I love a bit of authenticity. Particularly so when it comes to my kitchen equipment. So when it came to getting my hands on a paella pan, I did my research. They are a shocking price here in Dublin. So, reluctantly, as you can guess, I got on a plane and flew to Spain. Now, there really is no point in seeking out the ‘real deal’ on the Costa del Sol. One is more likely to be served roast beef with Yorkshire pudding than any traditional Spanish dish down that neck of the woods. No, I took myself to the beautiful village of Cadaqués, on the north-east coast. The village was home to that creative genius and surrealist, Salvador Dali. What better place to buy one’s cookware?
The new customer focussed Ryanair didn’t object to my bringing this back into Ireland despite it being way over the luggage size. I also managed to sneak in some beautiful chorizo sausage.
I thought we should christen the paella pan (Spain is a Christian country after all) with a Seafood Paella. Here’s the ingredients (and the pan).
Ingredients – for 4 to 6 people
- 200 grammes of Spanish paella rice
- 3 to 4 squid, depending on size
- 8 to 10 monkfish cheeks or a monkfish tail cut into big chunks
- 6 to 8 Gambas
- 12 big mussels
- half a kilo of Carpet Shell clams
- Half a litre of fish stock
- Half a ring of chorizo
- 6 to 8 shallots (or one big Spanish onion.
- A large teaspoon of hot paprika
- A generous pinch or two of saffron
- A big handful of parsley
- A lemon
- A small amount of olive oil
Side note on ingredients: Given where the pan came from, be as creative as you like in substituting the ingredients. Purists may be shocked but, it really can be a matter of being artistic and using what’s available and cheap.
First, get the clams into some salted water so they think they are back in the sea. They will start to open and close, releasing any sand trapped in their shells.
Next, chop up the chorizo into small bite size chunks.
Heat the pan and add some olive oil. Just enough to start the chorizo. It will release lots of highly flavoured, tasty oil too.
While the chorizo is cooking, chop the shallots.
Add the saffron to the stock and warm it. This will help with the cooking and also release more flavour and that lovely colour. Wash and prepare the squid. You can see how here.
When the chorizo has released lots of oil, turn down the heat and add the shallots.
When the shallots are softened, add the rice and stir to coat.
Next, start to add the stock, stirring as you go.
Let this cook , being sure it does not dry out but resisting the urge to scrape the rice off the bottom of the pan. We want to get a nice crust on the base of the paella. This is known as the socarrat and is key in any good paella. Add water as needed. You might need up to a half litre.
Taste the rice as you cook. Sooner or later it will look like in the photo below.
First in goes the squid.
The clams will release some liquid and sea flavour into the dish.
Mix these in and then strategically place the mussels, mouth end up. Press the monkfish pieces into the rice and then decorate with the gambas.
Cover the entire dish with aluminium foil and let the steam cook the fish and gambas. This should take no more than 5 minutes. Remove the foil. decorate with the handful of parsley and slices of lemon.
Serve your diners with this beautiful treat. It is really delicious and it was well worth my while making the journey to Spain to get the authentic pan.
The seafood paella really is creative artistry on a plate. Get on a plane, buy your paella pan and come home to a surreal dining experience. “Disfrute de su comida” as they say in Cadaqés.