One of the most important things I teach my cookery students is , KEEP IT SIMPLE. Why spend hours in the kitchen slaving away over a hot stove getting sweaty, whilst your friends are sitting down relaxing and having a good time? It makes no sense. Its much easier to make one large dish which everyone can dive into taking as much as they want. (It also saves time on the washing up after!)
Paella is one of those perfect entertaining dishes. You can serve it with meat, fish or vegetarian. It can be cheap to make with chicken or mussels. However you can also give it the wow factor by adding large prawns, crab and lobster for that special occasion. Once you have mastered the basic paella technique (which is quite similar to making a risotto) you can experiment with all sorts of ingredients.
When making the paella recipe below, I usually pan fry the prawns and squid first. This way the seafood does not get overlooked and become tough and chewy. If you are making the paella for less than 6 people you can add all the fish to the paella together. ( when you add the cod).
Another tip is to invest in a paella pan ( which are cheap to buy), Otherwise just use the largest frying pan you have, as paella needs to have a large surface area so that the rice cooks evenly.
You can vary the quantities and type of fish you use and if you don’t eat meat you can omit the chorizo, just double the quantity of paprika.
Seafood paella with chorizo and peas
difficulty: medium Serving:6
18 raw prawns peeled and deveined
3 medium sized squid cleaned cut in half (ask your fishmonger to do this)
350g cod fillet cut into 2.5 cm chunks (or any firm white fish)
2 medium onions finely chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 red pepper seeds removed and sliced
250g peas ( frozen are fine)
400g paella rice ( or arborio will do if unavailable)
3g saffron threads soaked in a cup of warm stock (300ml)
1 red chilli deseeded and finely chopped/ 1tsp dried chilli flakes
1.2litre of warm fish or chicken stock (approx 4cups)
2tbsp olive oil
Place the saffron threads in a cup of warm stock and leave to soak.
Using a sharp knife lightly score the squid in a diagonal crisis cross pattern and drizzle with a little olive oil and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onions and cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until the onions soften add the chorizo and cook for 2-3 minutes then add the garlic, chilli and paprika and cook for another minute*. Stir in the rice and add the saffron soaked stock and remaining stock and cook for 12-14 minutes, stirring very occasionally.
Whilst the rice is cooking season the prawns with salt and pepper and quickly sauté in a hot frying pan 2-3 minutes either side. Remove the prawns and reserve on a plate then season the squid and sauté for 1-2 minutes until the squid curls up and just starts to colour. Remove and add to the prawns.**
Add the cod and peas to the rice and a little more stock if looking too dry. Cook for another 3-4 minutes so that the fish and rice are just cooked and all the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the prawns and squid. Check the seasoning and serve.
* You can do this in advance
**You can do this in advance