- 1 Large Red Onion, finely chopped
- 150 ml White Wine
- 16 Cleaned Black Mussels
- 1 tbsp Good Quality Olive Oil
- 4 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
- 1 Red Capsicum, (Pepper) diced
- 1 100g Slice Jamon, (Serrano Ham) diced
- 1 Spanish Chorizo, thinly sliced
- 1 Large Vine Tomato, peeled* & diced
- 2 Pinch Cayenne Pepper
- 240 g Medium Grain Rice
- 500 ml Chicken Stock
- 1 Pinch Saffron Threads
- 180 g Frozen Baby Peas
- 4 Cleaned Baby Octopus, sliced in half lengthways
- 320 g Firm White Fish Fillet, cut into pieces
- 16 Large King / Tiger Prawns, peeled & deveined with tails intact**
- 2 Lemons, halved, to serve
- 1 Handful Parsley Leaves & Tender Steams, torn, to serve
- Smoked Sea Salt & Back Pepper
Preparation time 15mins
Cooking time 45mins
Adapted from shethinksshecancook.blogspot.com.au
In a small saucepan add half of the chopped onion and the wine and place over a high heat. When hot, add the mussels, cover with a tight fitting lid, and shake the pan gently until the mussels have all opened, usually between 4 and 8 minutes. Any that don't open up can be cooked for a little longer as sometimes they're just a bit stubborn, but the ones that remain firmly shut must be thrown away. Remove mussels and strain the liquid into a small bowl, discarding the leftover onion.
Into the same pan add the chicken stock and a pinch of saffron threads. Bring to a simmer so that when adding the stock to your paella pan the cooking temperature is not lowered.
Heat the olive oil in a large, wide, shallow pan and add the remaining onion, garlic, pepper and jamon. These are the first lot of ingredients that make up what the Spaniards call 'The Sofrito' - or flavour base. Sauté over a medium heat for 5 minutes until the onion and garlic have softened, before adding the chorizo, tomato and cayenne pepper and sautéing for a further 5. When the juice from the tomato has evaporated and the whole concoction has thickened up and smells incredible you can add the liquid from the mussels. Stir to combine before adding the rice, then the hot saffron stock and bringing to a rapid boil. Next, reduce the heat to a simmer and leave to cook for 15 minutes.
Traditionally paella is not stirred at all during cooking in order to achieve a prized layer of crust at the base, called 'socarrat'. I personally prefer to stir mine, as texturally speaking I just don't enjoy crunchy rice, though it is up to you whether or not you wish to stir your paella during this time.
When your rice has simmered, add the peas and the seafood, including the mussels, to the rice. Cook for a further 10 minutes to finish rice off and allow the seafood to cook through. If you opted not to stir your paella, you will need to push the ingredients down into the rice to get them closer to the heat source, turning over halfway through to ensure they are evenly cooked.
Check the rice is al dente before removing the pan from the heat. Add the lemon, scatter over some parsley and sprinkle a little smoked salt and black pepper. Serve the paella in the pan it was cooked in - to offer it on a plate is an offence!
*To peel the tomato cut a shallow cross into the base and submerge in boiling water for several minutes. When the skin begins to wrinkle you can remove it from the water and easily pull it off.
**You may notice that in my photo my prawns are cooked whole, while my instructions to prepare them are to peel and de-vein. The latter is my usual method of preparation and has never let me down, however the day I photographed this dish I chose to try and be fancy and serve them whole as I'd seen them do in restaurants. The result was unimpressive - neither myself nor my guests enjoyed shelling the prawns at the table, it was messy, fiddly and generally annoying, however you may do as you please!
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