Seafood Paella

I recently learned how to make a classic Spanish dish while I was in Madrid: Paella Valenciana which includes flavored rice with rabbit and chicken pieces. However, I am not much of a fan of rabbit meat, so I decided to incorporate the rice with seafood and a little meat instead, creating a dish known as Paella Mixta.

For my seafood, I have used whole king prawns, mussels, calamari and scallops, but you could use other types of seafood as well. The key to making a good paella is to flavor the rice well so it doesn’t taste too bland. Besides using the standard chopped tomatoes, pimentón (smoked paprika) and saffron, I have also incorporated roasted red capsicum and its juices in my recipe. Also, by turning the heat up high during the last few minutes allows a nice crust to form on the bottom of the paella pan, known as a socarrat. Everyone scrambles to eat this crunchy layer at the bottom of the dish- yum!

You’ll need a flat paella pan for this recipe and to get the best results, use a short grain rice such as bomba, which you can find in specialty stores. I used a smaller 11 inch paella pan for my recipe, but if you use the larger 18 inch pan, you’ll need to almost double the recipe.

Oddly enough, when I presented my Paella Valenciana dish to the chef at the Madrid Cordon Bleu School, he said that my “rice was overcooked.” Of course, he hardly tasted it and when I got home and ate my paella for dinner, I found the wonderful crunchy socarrat at the bottom of my dish. Little did he know …..

Seafood Paella
Serves 4
A classic Spanish dish: rice flavored with Spanish paprika, saffron, tomatoes and white wine.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 red capsicum, roasted and sliced in strips
  2. 1 onion, chopped
  3. 2 garlic cloves, diced
  4. 1 Spanish chorizo, thinly sliced
  5. 1 tsp Pimentón Dulce or Sweet Paprika
  6. 3 tomatoes, skins removed, de-seeded and chopped
  7. 2 tbsp tomato paste
  8. 100 ml white wine
  9. pinch of saffron soaked in 1/4cup hot water
  10. Salt to taste
  11. 2 cups chicken stock or water
  12. 1 cup ‘Bomba’ rice or other short grain rice
For the seafood
  1. 4-6 King Prawns (or shrimp) whole, uncooked
  2. Calamari rings
  3. 6-8 scallops
  4. 6-8 mussels
For the garnish
  1. Chopped flat leaf parsley
  2. Lemon wedges
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the broiler oven to 200 C (400 F). Place the red capsicum on the top shelf of the oven and bake until the skin blackens (about 10-15 minutes). Alternatively, place the pepper directly over a gas burner and scorch until the skin blackens- careful not to over-burn the skin. After the skin blackens, place the red pepper in foil, cover with a bit of salt and olive oil and cook in the oven for about 10-15 minutes (180 C or 350 F). Let cool for several minutes. Remove the blackened skin, pulp and seeds and then slice the capsicum into thin strips. Retain the juices from the foil wrap.
  2. Slice the chorizo into thin rounds. Using the paella pan, heat the chorizo on the stovetop in a little oil until juices form; remove the chorizo from the pan. Using the same juices from the chorizo, heat the garlic and onion until they are translucent. Add the chorizo back to the pan along with the sweet paprika (Pimentón Dulce), chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, white wine and juices from the roasted red pepper. Soak the saffron pieces in 1/4 cup hot water for 5 minutes then add to the paella pan with the other ingredients. Stir for at least 15 minutes until all the flavors have infused, add salt as required.
  3. Add two cups of water or chicken stock to the mixture and bring to a soft boil. Add the rice, stir the mixture and then reduce the heat to a simmer. When the rice is about ¾ cooked (almost absorbed by the water), add the calamari rings and king prawns and press them lightly into the rice mixture. Cover with foil or a lid and let them cook for several minutes until the prawns turn pink. Now add the mussels and scallops, cover and heat until the mussel shells open. During the last several minutes of cooking, turn the heat up to medium high, allowing a thin crust to form on the bottom of the rice mixture.
  4. Remove the paella from the heat, add several lemon slices to the dish and sprinkle with finely diced parsley and a few splashes of olive oil.
Notes
  1. You can substitute chicken thigh pieces for the chorizo, if desired.
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Fabada Asturiana- Spanish White Bean Stew

Hello everyone! I haven’t posted any recipes or the past 6 weeks because I have been very busy attending a 4-week intensive course in Spanish cuisine at the Madrid Cordon Bleu School. Every day we had a 3-hour demonstration class followed by a 3-hour practical class. It was quite tiring: here is a picture of me on the first day of class when I was rested and ‘raring to go.’ Four weeks later, I didn’t feel quite so rested!

                                          that’s me on the right

After doing this course, I am definitely not an expert in Spanish cuisine, but I can say that the Spanish do use a lot of olive oil and smoked paprika (pimenton) in their cooking. They also use a lot of cured meats such as chorizo and Iberian ham.

One traditional dish from the Asturias region of northwest Spain is called Fabada Asturiana. This stew uses fabes (white beans) combined with smoked pork sausages from Asturias (chorizo asturiana), and blood sausages from the region (morcilla asturiana). The addition of the pancetta gives this dish a hearty smoked flavor- perfect especially for the cooler weather. (While I was in Madrid, the temperature reached an average of 90 F every day, however I still liked eating this dish)!

The fabes are large white kidney beans from Asturias that are creamy and tender- however you could also use cannellini or Great Northern beans as a substitute. I had never tried morcilla or blood sausages before but these had a light texture that I really liked. These sausages need to be added at the very end of the cooking, otherwise they tend to break up and ‘disappear’ in the stew. If you don’t have access to the morcilla, you could substitute another type of sausage of your choice.

And don’t worry about soaking the white beans overnight and cooking them for two hours ahead of time! I used the quick-soak method, where you bring the beans briefly to a boil and let soak for only 1-hour- this will save you a lot of time!

Blood sausage from Asturias (morcilla asturiana), Smoked sauage from Asturias (chorizo asturiana) and pancetta

So, if you want to experience a taste of Spain (without having to travel to the country) try making this smoky bean stew, Fabada Asturiana!

 

Fabada Asturiana (Spanish White Bean Stew)
Serves 6
A smoky Spanish stew from the region of Asturianas
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Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb dried white beans (fabes, cannellini or Great Northern beans)
  2. 1 onion, chopped
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. ½ lb pancetta or speck bacon, cut into ½ inch strips
  5. 2 'chorizos asturianas' (or other Spanish chorizo)
  6. 2 ‘morcillas asturianas’ (blood sausages)
  7. 12 cups water (or enough water to cover the beans and other ingredients)
  8. 3-4 threads of saffron
  9. Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Rinse the dried beans. Fill a large saucepan or Dutch oven with water and bring to a boil; add the beans and boil for one minute. Remove from heat and cover the pan with a lid- let the beans soak for one hour. Strain the beans and set aside. In a large pot or Dutch oven, ‘sweat’ the onions and garlic in a little olive oil until they are translucent. Cut the pancetta into thin strips and the chorizos into ¼ inch slices and add to the pot and cook for about one minute. Add the soaked beans to the pan and enough water to cover the ingredients; add a few threads of saffron and salt to taste. Cook for at least 1 hour on a medium-low heat until all flavors have infused together.
  2. While the ingredients are cooking, cut the morcilla (blood) sausages into thin slices and bake in a pre-heated oven at 320 F (160 C) for 10 minutes. Add them to the stew during the last 5-10 minutes of cooking. Serve warm in individual bowls.
Notes
  1. You could substitute the morcilla blood sausage with any other sausage of your choice. Also, if you do not have access to 'chorizo asturiana', you could substitute a general Spanish chorizo for this.
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