Sunday, September 30, 2012

Perfect Paella Versus Manorexia

This recipe is very much an experiment, but one I had wanted to try for years. Despite my manorexia I was determined to perfect a Paella recipe which I had always found really daunting. So whilst on holiday I decided to give it a go, no recipe books or outside help, just me, instinct and a huge Paella pan. Fuelled with wine this is how is went!
Sourcing the ingredients
Whilst at the local Carrefour I went straight to the fish counter. I was in look as the wizened old man guarding the ocean treasures counter spoke a little English which is a lot more Spanish than I can muster. I gesticulated at the Cod (Bacalao) and bagged myself two large fillets. Next up were the Prawns (Gambas) - I said in my best accent that I would like 2Kgs, bluffing the ingredients I required. Finally, I asked (pointed at the) baby squid (Calamar) and got 1kg of the pearly white little monsters with big black boggle eyes... Next came the Chorizo and I went for a string of 6 plump little red sausages which I could hack up roughly.
After the fish stand came the search for the rice. As I turned the corner of the carbohydrate isle I was met with a wall full of rice types, brands, shapes and sizes. Searching for the perfect paella rice was something I did with zero knowledge, but after playing with various packets I found a yellow and red one with the brand Arroz Bomba on the front. I quickly found the oil isle and chucked in a litre of the greenest, most expensive olive oil I could find. This being Spain, the oil was only €8.
Next up I turned my attention to the herbs and spices. I guessed that I would need some sort of stock (which I did not want to make from scratch), Saffron and some sort of North African type spicing and so I went for the Ras el hanout spice which is a mixture of 35 differing ingredients.
Finally, I needed some veggies and so I bagged two large brown onions, a huge garlic clove, some really ripe vine tomatoes (about 2kg) and 3 huge red peppers. Last up was a bunch of fresh parsley, about 4 fat juicy oranges and a bright vibrant yellow lemon.
Ingredients - Serves 8
1kg Paella rice 
4 Oranges (juiced) 
1 Lemon (juiced) 
2 Large Onions (Chopped) 
2Kg Chopped Tomatoes 
1 Large bunch of chopped Parsley 
1/2 a bulb of garlic, finely chopped 
3 Huge red peppers, charred, de-skinned, de-seeded and sliced 
Lots of Salt and Pepper 
2-3 tablespoons light soy sauce 
3 Tablespoons Ras el hanout 
1 Tablespoon Cayenne pepper 
7-9 Saffron strands 
2 litres chicken stock 
1 Bottle of white wine 
2kg Fresh, raw prawns 
1kg baby squid 
2 Large Cod fillets 
100g butter (melted) 
150ml good of olive oil

Back to the pool scene and as the sun beat down on us all I decided to go and get the chopping board. I got stuck into the onion, garlic and tomatoes chopping them roughly into large chunks. Earlier over lunch I had, charred the 3 peppers on the BBQ until black and blistered on the outside and soft and tender inside.
Next I cracked open some more white wine and sipped away as I melted 100g of butter with 100ml of olive oil in a large Paella pan. Once warmed I added about 3 tablespoons of Ras el hanout about 1 tablespoon of Cayenne pepper and 1 tablespoon of salt and freshly ground black pepper. I fried this for about 5 minutes until fragrant and then tipped in 1kg of raw rice and stirred to ensure it was fully coated. As I sipped more wine I fried the rice for about 5-10 minutes in the spiced oil and butter mix.
Once the rice was lightly toasted I removed from the pan into a large bowl and left to cool whilst I prepared for the next stage of the recipe. Firstly I placed about 8 strands of Saffron into half a cup of nearly boiling water to steep.

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