Spaniards beware – a Brit is about to share with you a recipe for paella and if by the end of this you are left fuming and culturally outraged then please share with us below your secret family recipes! But in my defence (here I am apologising before I’ve even mentioned the word rice) I am a big paella lover who has eaten her fair share, and if I’m honest I had a little help from a lovely Spaniard called Rais and the crew at bcnkitchen.

Perfect Paella

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

Ingredients (makes a paella for 4-6 people)
• 6 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 to 2 raw extra-large shrimps per person
• 1 to 2 langoustine or crawfish per person
• 2 mussels per person
• 1 squid or cuttlefish per person
• 3 onions, chopped into small pieces
• 1/2 red bell pepper, 1 green pepper cored, seeded and chopped
• Around 4 saffron threads (yes I know its expensive but if you want it to be authentic…)
• 2 cloves of garlic, chopped (if desired)
• 3 large tomatoes, grated (without the peel)
• 1 squid or cuttlefish per person
• 4 cups fumet (fish broth)
• 1’5 cups uncooked Bomba rice

and a pan that can be used on the hob and in the oven.

Instructions

1. Making your paella goes a lot faster if you wash, chop, clean, measure and prepare your ingredients before heating up your pan and starting to cook.

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2. Heat your oil in a large pan (lucky you if you happen to own a paellera – a special paella pan). Fry your shrimps and crawfish gently and quickly on a high heat in order to seal in the flavour. A minute or two on each side is enough and then put them to the side – we’ll come back to them later.

3. Turn your pan down to a medium heat and add the onions. Cook until they are well caramelised then add your red & green pepper. The more cooked they are, the sweeter and more intense the flavour will be. When everything looks golden brown add the garlic.

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4. Start to heat up your fish broth as it must be hot when added to the rest of the mixture. You can also turn your oven on to preheat now at 350ºF / 180ºC.

5. Move the onion pepper mixture to the outside edges of your pan and then add a little extra drizzle of oil and the saffron to the centre. Gently mix everything together whilst adding the grated tomatoes. Leave it to cook for a while until none of the liquid from the tomatoes remains.

6. Make a space in the centre of your pan again and then add the rice, coating it with some olive oil. Let it crisp for a moment and then when the rice is nicely coated and browning, mix it in with the rest of the ingredients. Add the fish broth and reduce the head to low, allowing the paella to simmer. Stir occasionally. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes, until the liquid is nearly all absorbed, but you still have some liquid remaining for when it is added to the oven.

7. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook, uncovered, for about 6 minutes, until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Now add the muscles,shrimps and crawfish, in a decorative circle around the paella.

8. When the mussels have opened, (it will take around 3 minutes), take the paella out of the oven. The rice wont be 100% done and this is fine – let it sit for 3 minutes (as it will finish cooking in the pan), and then it is ready to serve. If you wait until the rice is ready in the oven it will be mushy by the time it arrives on your plate.

Perfect Paella

9. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and lemon wedges. Bring your pan to the table, Spanish style, and serve it up there.

10. Tuck in and enjoy!

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I learnt my perfect paella recipe at bcnkitchen, a cooking school in the heart of Barcelona. So now you have paella mastered how about taking a lesson & learning to make the perfect Crema Catalana (the Catalan equivalent to a Creme Brûlée) or a typical Spanish potato omelette. ¡Buen provecho!

Photo 1 Andy Ciordia the rest & text by Lorna Stokes