Paella is one of those dishes that you can have on cold winter's night to warm the soul or on a hot summer's night with friends/family. No matter what time of year, there is always time for Paella. You can cook Paella in most large heavy based saucepans, but the best and traditional way is done in a Paella pan.
Paella pans can range from small to extremely large. The one shown on the right is a 40cm diameter Paella pan. Obviously the bigger the pan, the bigger the cooker you need. You want to make sure the pan is heated evenly, otherwise the whole Paella wont be cooked. I don't have a big enough cook top or gas burner to cover the whole pan. I used our barbecue as the cook top and it worked perfectly.
Paella is more or less a seafood risotto. You can use basically any seafood for a Paella, just remember to use fish that are local and sustainable. A great website for sustainable seafood within Australia is - http://www.sustainableseafood.org.au This website lists available Australian seafood and the impact it has on the environment and the impact on the fish. Choose seafood that is sustainable and say no to overfishing, destructive fishing gear and poor aquaculture practices.
Paella is great party food, granted it takes time to prepare and cook, but the end result is well worth it. Paella is best served outdoors with a beer in hand with friends/family.
What you need:
125ml white wine
2 red onions, finely chopped
12-16 mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed
125ml olive oil
1 rasher bacon, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic
1 red capsicum, seeded and finely chopped
1 tomato, peeled and chopped
90g chorizo, thinly sliced
pinch cayenne pepper
225g paella or short-grain rice
500ml chicken stock
12 prawns, peeled and de-veined, tails left intact
2 squid tubes, cut into rings
115g white fish fillets, skinned and cut into pieces
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1) Heat wine and two-thirds of the onion in a saucepan. Add the mussels, cover and gently shake the pan for 5 minutes over high heat. Remove from the heat, discard any mussels that did not open and drain, reserving the liquid. Heat the oil in a large heavy based frying pan (or Paella pan), add the remaining onion, bacon, garlic and capsicum, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomato, chorizo and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the reserved liquid, then add the rice and stir again.
2) Stir stock into the rice mixture. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and gently simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes without stirring.
3) Put the peas, prawns, squid and fish on top of the rice. Push them in, cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, turning the seafood over halfway through cooking time, until the rice is tender and the seafood is cooked through. Add the mussels for the last 5 minutes to heat through. If the rice is not quite cooked, add extra stock and cook for a few more minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.