Like many recipes, the following for an authentic paella de marisco, may at first glance seem pretty daunting, please just keep in mind it is basically rice. I love rice and it is very easy to cook if you follow some simple rules. The principle behind making a good paella de marisco is very simple one, much like a risotto, you want to drive as many of the flavours from the stock and other ingredients into the rice, but unlike a risotto, you do not stir during the entire duration of cooking. There is a myriad of varieties of paella and a huge number of ingredients that go into different regional recipes, some call for chicken, rabbit or snails. This is my recipe is for a great, authentic paella de marisco or seafood paella, packed with tasty mussels and prawns and with a rich, full flavour from the garlic, Chorizo and smoked paprika.
It is really important when making your paella de marisco to use the right rice, many Spanish people use a short grain variety called Bahia, grown in South & South-eastern Spain. It requires around two times its own volume in cooking liquor. For that extra special paella, there is a variety of rice called Bomba – this is a slow growing rice that absorbs three times its own volume when cooked without falling apart. As paella is primarily about the flavours of the stock being absorbed into the rice this is a particularly excellent variety, although it can be quite expensive. About a 100g of rice per person Bomba or standard paella rice will give a good main-course size portion, which means 1Kg of rice will make about a 10 person paella
Your paella pan, the name paella is a Catalan derivative of an old French word for pan, should be a sturdy and made of polished steel, to care for it follow the technique in my early post for looking after your wok or any cast iron pan. The reason there are so many different sizes of paella pan is that it is important not to create a paella that is too deep. Your final paella needs to be a “dry” rice and having the dish too full will not allow any excess cooking liquor to evaporate out once cooked. As a basic rule of thumb, a paella should not be deeper than the rivets for the handles on the paella pans. Traditionally paella is cooked over an open fire as you may have seen in Spanish fiestas or festivals. The way to achieve an authentic paella is to allow me to introduce Sofrito and Socorat.
The Sofrito and the Socorat
The Sofrito and the Socorat are not characters or events in Don Quixote. They are the key to you making an outstanding classic paella de marisco . The sofrito is a fried tomato paste, do not worry if you don’t like tomato – you will never know it’s there. It adds a rich sweet note to the finished paella. The socorat is perhaps the most highly prized part of a paella. It is the dark caramalised rice that sticks to the bottom of the pan.
Seafood Paella – serves 4 to 6
200 gr Monkfish Fillet
150 gr Squid
125 gr good quality Smoked Chorizo Sausage, very finely diced
12 Prawns, the bigger the better, peeled and de-veined
4 King Prawns or Gambas , as big or bigger than the prawns
500 gr approximately Mussels, washed and scrubbed
100 gr cooked Butter Beans
2 Red Peppers, thinly sliced
Paella Rice, one cupful per person
Chicken or Fish Stock approximately twice as much as the rice
1 large Spanish onion, peeled and very finely chopped
4 cloves of Garlic, peeled and very finely chopped
1 small tin of chopped Tomatoes
Peas (as many as you like)
A glass of good dry White Wine
Good quality Olive Oil
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
Freshly chopped Parsley
A large 6 person Paella pan
In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan place the diced chorizo sausage and generously cover with olive oil, heat until the oil just starts to bubble then turn down to lowest setting and keep on the lowest possible simmer for thirty minutes. Be careful not to have the sausage on a high heat and burn the chorizo, the aim is to slowly confit the meat in the oil to release the delicious flavours. Remove from heat and cool, then store in airtight container in the fridge. This can be made up to a week ahead of time. This braised chorizo is great gently re-heated in stews, casseroles, with chicken, as a garnish to monkfish, sea bass and oysters. As with many recipes, some people are probably shaking their heads at the addition of chorizo ( They don’t do that in Spain you know ) to a seafood paella but once you smell the heavily flavoured oil sizzling in your pan I think you will be convinced.
Score and cut the squid into cubes about two centimetres each and then slice the monkfish fillet into finger thick escallops. Heat a generous serving spoon of the flavoured chorizo oil in the paella pan, when the oil is smoking add the prawns and crayfish, sauté for a minute or two then remove and put to one side. Next, put the squid in the pan and fry until light golden brown. Remove and add to the prawns.
For the sofrito
In a little further oil gently sauté the onion for five minutes without colouring. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes. Turn up the heat and cook the tomatoes with the onion until it reduced into a very thick dark red paste. Stir continuously to prevent the sofrito from sticking and burning, but reduce it right down.
Add the garlic, saffron, and paprika and stir everything around before adding the rice. Pour in the fish stock, wine, pepper slices, around a ½ teaspoon of salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper and bring it up to the boil and simmer. After ten minutes of cooking add the butter beans, peas, prawns, the crayfish and the mussels. Cook for an extra five minutes until almost all the liquid has been absorbed. Occasionally gently shake the pan to prevent the large ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pan, DO NOT STIR.
For the socorat
Turn up the heat to full for no more than a minute or so. You will hear the rice start to “pop”. After a short time, “popping” (thirty seconds or so) turn off the heat completely. Interestingly this is how popped rice cereals made without the fish flavouring!
Resting is important for the final flavours to develop and the rice to finish cooking. If you want to decorate your paella with extra pre-cooked prawns and mussels on the half shell, then this is a good time to add them so they can warm through. Cover with a double layer of foil and leave it to rest for ten minutes. Serve with lemon wedges and parsley straight from the pan.
Allergens in this recipe are;