Twin brothers, Jorge and Felipe Correa, demonstrate how to prepare paella, and provide historical insight into this Spanish dish.
Paella is one of the world’s most famous rice dishes, and this version is a seafood extravaganza. Although Traditionally paella is prepared in a paellera (a wide, shallow pan with looped handles) and cooked over an outdoor fire, it’s easy to cook paella to authentic perfection in your own kitchen over the stovetop. The following paella recipe serves 4, and for best results cook in a 14 or 15-inch paellera. A large shallow frying pan makes an acceptable substitute.
1) CHOP THE VEGETABLES
Finely chop 1 red onion, dice 1 red and 1 green pepper (capsicum), finely chop 4 cloves of garlic, and finely chop 2 tablespoons of fresh flat-leaf parsley.
2) PUREE THE TOMATOES
Using a box grater, puree 2 ripe tomatoes (vine-ripened are best), discarding the skin. Alternatively, you can use a cup of canned peeled tomatoes mashed with a fork.
3) PREPARE THE SEAFOOD
Peel and devein 16 large raw shrimp (prawns), cut 2 squid tubes into rings, and scrub and debeard 12 fresh mussels. Cover and refrigerate.
4) MAKE THE SOFRITO
Sofrito is a Spanish tomato and onion sauce that is used as a flavor base for a variety of dishes, including paella. To make the sofrito, heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in the paella pan over medium heat and cook the chopped red onion, 2 tablespoons of parsley, and 3 of the chopped garlic cloves for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pureed tomatoes and 2 teaspoons of paprika (preferably Spanish smoked paprika) and cook until all the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated and the sofrito has the consistency of jam. Transfer the sofrito to a small bowl and wipe clean the paella pan.
5) COOK THE MUSSELS
While the sofrito is cooking, place the mussels in a saucepan with half a cup of simmering water. Cover and steam on low heat for 5 minutes. Remove mussels and set aside, discarding any that haven’t opened.
6) COOK THE SHRIMP AND SQUID
Heat 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in the paella pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining clove of chopped garlic and the shrimp and cook for 1½ minutes, tossing continuously. Add the squid rings and cook for a further 1½ minutes. Remove the shrimp and squid from the paella pan and lightly season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and set aside.
7) COOK THE DICED RED AND GREEN PEPPERS
Heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in the paella pan over medium heat and cook the diced red and green peppers for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
8) ADD THE RICE
Add the sofrito back to the pan along with 1½ cups of Spanish Calasparra or Bomba rice (regular medium grain rice makes a good substitute) and cook for a minute, stirring to coat the grains.
9) ADD HOT STOCK, SAFFRON, SALT AND PEPPER AND COOK WITH STIRRING
Add 3 cups of heated fish or chicken stock, a pinch of saffron threads, 1½ teaspoons sea salt and ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine, and bring to a rolling simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, uncovered without stirring. (To make sure the rice cooks evenly you will need to regularly move the paella pan around the heat source, or you can straddle the paella pan over two burners.)
10) LOWER THE HEAT AND CONTINUE COOKING
Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for a further 15 minutes without stirring. After 15 minutes, turn the heat up to medium-high for a minute or so until you can smell the rice toasting at the bottom, then remove the paella pan from the heat. (The toasted rice bottom of paella is called socorrat and is highly prized.)
11) ADD SEAFOOD AND PEAS AND COVER
Push the reserved shrimp, mussels and squid into the cooked rice, and scatter with half a cup of defrosted green peas. Cover the pan with foil or a clean cloth, and let the paella rest for 5 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges Present the paella in the pan at the table with lemon wedges on the side for drizzling.
Camera: Alan Alger