When I find fresh seafood, the first word that comes to my mind is paella. This dish brings back childhood memories, and after all these years it's still one of those foods that I find exciting to cook and delicious to eat.
Paella is a baked (or charcoal-simmered) rice dish typical of Spain. The basic paella would be a white rice simmered in saffron-infused stock, sauteed onions and peppers. From this versatile base people concocted all sorts of variations. You can add everything from chicken wings to the classic mixture of fish and shellfish to this dish.
In this recipe, I used fresh seafood as the main ingredient. I was out of white rice one day and decided to use jasmine rice instead. To my surprise, it turned out to be a fantastic combination of scents and flavor.
Make sure that you have a roasting pan with a lid that you can use both on the stove and in the oven.
NOTE: When buying shrimp, you will often see numbers such as 8/12, 16/20, 31/40, etc. written on the package. That means "shrimp per pound," so the smaller the number, the bigger the shrimp. For example, in a package of 8/12 shrimp, it would only take 8 to 12 shrimp to make a pound. Whereas it would take 31 to 40 Shrimp to make up a pound in a bag of smaller shrimp.
Spanish Seafood Paella with Jasmine Rice
makes 6-8 portions
2 cups jasmine rice
4 cups of chicken, or fish Stock (I used fish stock)
1 pound tiger shrimp, shelled and deveined (I used size 21-24)
1 pound squid, cleaned and cut into rings
1/2 pound of your favorite fish fillet, cut into 1 inch cubes (I used cod)
1 pound cleaned mussels and/or pasta clams (optional)
1/2 pound sea scallops
1 large spanish onion, diced
2 large red bell peppers, diced
1/2 cup peas
1 handful parsley, chopped
1/3 cup of Manzanilla olives with pimentos, chopped
2 tablespoons capers
3 cloves garlic, minced
Very fragrant olive oil (I recommend Greek or Portuguese olive oil)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. The first step in all of my recipes is to prepare all your ingredients. This means that you mix, chop, cut, dice, and prepare everything youre going to need! For this recipe you should prepare:
- The fish or chicken stock
- The seafood, then store in fridge until needed
- Diced onions, olives, peppers and minced garlic
2. Place roasting pan on stovetop (if it's large, you may have to use two burners at the same time) and heat on medium-high. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Add enough olive oil to slightly coat the bottom of the pan and add the onions, peppers, garlic, capers, olives and parsley. Saute the vegetables for 10-15 minutes, until the onions become translucent. Keep things moving with a wooden spoon to avoid burning the garlic.
4. Add the seafood and saute for another 15 minutes, until they have released their liquid. You will see the pan start to fill up with water. These are the juices of the seafood and will be one of the main flavorings of this dish. At this point you can add the pinch of saffron. Notice the color change to a nice yellow or orange.
5. Add the rice, followed by the stock and the peas. Adjust the salt and pepper (make sure it's very flavorful). Bring to a simmer. As soon as it starts to simmer, give it one big stir, place the lid on the roasting pan and place it in the oven. Cook for 30-40 minutes. Do not open lid during this time.
6. Remove the pan from the oven and open up the lid. Add a couple of swirls of olive oil and stir once. Let the paella rest for 10 minutes before serving.
By: Chef Cristian