My aunt Margie as famed in our family for making Paella and it has always been a favourite at large family gatherings. Last week I picked up a large paella pan for a bargain price of $6.99 from Aldi (I love Aldi!). This is my version based on a recipe by Ian Parmenter that is featured in Poh Ling Yeow’s book Poh’s Kitchen. Mark and I bumped into Poh at a book-signing of the book and were very chuffed to get a signed copy. The book has some quirky facts about Ian, my favourite is how once while traveling he had no access to a kitchen and lots of fresh seafood in his possession, he was once driven to cook scallops with and iron from his hotel room.
I managed to track down a bag of Calasparra Rice. This short-grained rice is perfect for paella, producing a sumptuous, creamy dish and comes in a stitched cloth bag. If you can’t find this any medium-grain rice will do. Paella can use any seafood at hand, scallops, Moreton Bay bugs or crab claws would all be fantastic as well. Making this made me really homesick for NZ green-lipped mussels. In NZ these are sold live in supermarkets in tanks that spray them with water, and you have to push a button to temporarily stop the spray so you can get them out. For the fish I used shark, fishmongers here call it flake to make it sound more friendly.
1 large pinch saffron strands
2 tbs extra virgin olie oil
250g Chorizo cut into chunky bite sized pieces
500g skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2-3cm pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 capsicums (1 red and 1 yellow or green)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2-3 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
3 cups Calasparra Rice (see note above)
4 cups (1 litre) chicken stock
12 green prawns either cleaned or shells intact
400g white fish fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 squid tube, cleaned and cut into rings.
1 cup frozen peas
Preheat oven to 220°c. Immerse the saffron in 2 tablespoons of boiling water for 5 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large oven-proof frying pan over medium heat on stovetop and partly cook the chorizo for a few minutes. Add the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes, or unti browned. It doesn’t need to be cooked right through at this stage.
Add the onion, capsicum, garlic, cherry tomatoes, paprika and bay leaf and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes. Pour in the stock and the saffron liquid (discard the saffron strands) and add enough water to cover the rice by 1cm.
Cover with foil (join two pieces together by folding a seam), bake in oven for 15 minutes, or the liquid is almost absorbed.
Meanwhile, rinse and drain the prawns in cold water. Scrub and de-beard the mussels in cold water, and discard any that have opened or are cracked.
Dot the prawns, mussels and fish over the rice mixture. Add the frozen peas. Bake for a further 10 minutes, or until the seafood is just cooked. Discard any mussels that have not opened.