Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Recreating Europe #3: Pleasingly Palatable Paella
Just to continue my previous post, my hispanophile friend told me that the Spanish dinner that I whipped up indeed tasted authentic! Therefore, without further adieu, allow me to post the main recipe of that evening, which is again based on my Spanish cookbook--a recipe for paella. Just a quick note though, paella is typically made with mussels and not just clams. However, the seafood section in my local Safeway was out of mussels, so I simply used clams instead. You could use both mussels and clams, for extra seafood "oomph."
1 lb of littleneck clams, scrubbed and presoaked in tepid water, to rid the clams of any grime or sand (you may also use scrubbed mussels, with beards removed)
1/2 cup of white wine
1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
5 oz of chorizo
1/2 lb of calamari, cleaned and cut into bite-sized rings and tentacles
2 yellow, red, or orange bell peppers, cut into thin lengthwise strips
1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
2 cups of chicken broth
2 generous pinches of good quality saffron
1 cup of short grain rice, preferably paella rice, if available
1 lb of medium-sized shell-on shrimp
1 1/2 cups of frozen peas, defrosted to room temperature
Place the white wine and clams into a small pot, and bring the clams to a rolling boil. When the clams have opened, immediately take the pot off the heat and set the clams aside, reserving the liquid separately.
In a large paella pan (or a large non-stick pan, if you do not have a paella pan), heat the olive oil on high heat, and saute the onions and garlic, until the onions are just translucent. Add the chorizo, and fry the meat for a few minutes, breaking up the large chorizo pieces with a wooden spoon.
Next, add the calamari and bell pepper strips to the cooking pan, and continue to cook the paella ingredients down for a few additional minutes. Then add the clam/wine broth, the tomatoes, the chicken broth, and the saffron; cover the pan with a lid; and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the rice, cover the paella again, and bring the rice to a simmer on medium heat. After 15 to 20 minutes, when the rice has absorbed more than half of the liquid, add the shrimp, and combine the paella ingredients thoroughly.
Continue to cook the paella on medium heat, stirring only occasionally, until all the liquid has been absorbed, the rice is no longer al dente, and the shrimp is cooked through (and not overcooked). You want the rice at the bottom of the pan to have formed crisp crust patches. Add the peas, and stir the entire paella mixture, ensuring that the ingredients and flavors are evenly distributed. Finally, take the pan off the heat, and nestle the open clams into the surface of the paella rice. Cover the rice with the lid, and allow the steam to heat the clams before serving the rice with wedges of lemon.
If you liked this post about my attempt to recreate the memorable meals my beau and I had in Europe, stay tuned for more, and check out the other posts in this series, including:
Also, feel free to browse some of my other Spanish food posts, which are based out of my experiences in San Francisco: