Thursday, January 15, 2015

Seafood Paella

Classic seafood paella: a tasty and impressive saffron flavored rice mixed with your favorite, fresh seafood
I know what you are thinking... this is not an Italian dish. True! But once in a while it's nice to change and try something new.
I often make this recipe. It's a great one-dish, healthy dinner, perfect for my family.
I don't have the original Spanish "paella" (large, oven-safe frying pan), but I simply use my big, heavy skillet. And I cook the rice only on the stove, not in the oven.
The main difference between a paella and a seafood risotto is in the way you cook the rice. In the paella you add all the stock/water all at once at the beginning, and mostly let the rice simmer until ready. With the risotto, the liquid is added some at the time, and the rice needs constant stirring.
Paella can be very creative. Make it fun by choosing  a variety of seafood that you like best. Each adding a different flavor and texture. My favorite ingredients are calamari, shrimps and scallops. And let's not forget mussels. It really adds a special touch to the dish! If I were in Italy (or Spain) I would definitely use scampi. But here in California they are not easy to find. So no scampi in my paella :-(
So here is the recipe for my seafood paella. There are lots of ways to prepare it. This is how I make it and I hope you will enjoy it. Any suggestions or expert advise is always welcome!

Ingredients: serving 4
  • half onion, minced
  • 0.5 lb calamari or calamari steak
  • 0.5 lb shrimps
  • 0.5 lb of scallops
  • 0.5 lb of mussels
  • 3/4 cup of peas (I used frozen)
  • 0.5 cup of crushed tomatoes 
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
  • 1/4 of a teaspoon of saffron (I like powder better, but only had the Spanish type)
  • 0.5 cup of white wine
  • 1.5 cups of rice 
  • 3 cups of fish or vegetable stock 
  • salt to taste
Preparation time: 50 minutes
Directions:
Step 1: In a large skillet, sauté the garlic and the chopped onion in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Over medium-high heat, sauté the shrimps for 3 minutes or so. Remove them from the skillet and save them for later.

Step 2: Sauté the scallops and the calamari cut into small pieces. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Step 3: Add the rice, the crushed tomatoes, the saffron dissolved in the white wine, the white wine and the stock. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Salt to taste. No stirring the rice.

Step 4: While the rice cooks, wash the mussels under running water, scrub the shells and remove the beard if necessary. Place the mussels in a sauce pan, cover and place over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Throw away any mussel that did not open, and set aside for later.
Step 5: Mix in the peas and the shrimps. I cut about half of the shrimps in pieces, the rest I left whole. Cook for another 8 minutes or until the rice is mostly cooked. Increase or decrease the heat based on how much liquid you still have. It will need to be all absorbed by the end. Salt to taste.

Step 6: Add the mussels with the shell. Serve immediately!





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