Paella – fast, easy and delicious

When you think of Spain most people think of sangria, cerveza, tapas and paella, right? At least most people I have come across so far, usually mispronouncing it, too. It’s pronounced “pa-eh-yah” not “pa-ella”, it’s not a rice dish for a person called Ella. What could she have possibly done to have a Spanish national dish named after her? Cleaning in front of the house before the other I-clean-earlier-than-you-neighbour has even opened the blinds? Considering the Spanish “syndroma de la Puerta”, I actually would not be surprised.

Even though not everybody can say it, everyone knows what Paella is. Rice, some meat, calamari and shrimp with a lovely yellow colour. It’s delicious and nutritious and I can’t make it. We make it about once a year and my mother cannot give me the recipe, as she doesn’t have one. She makes it the way her parents made it before. This always frustrated me, especially considering that she always hated to cook. Without a recipe I couldn’t take over. I tried taking notes before, but I always lost them. This time I stalked her with my digital camera and a notetaking app. I’m not losing the recipe again. Now I will record it here, so I can never lose it again.

I will probably update the photos one day, but for now this will have to do. Sorry, if they aren’t the greatest, a Spanish kitchen always seems to be a frantic kitchen. She kept stirring while I was trying to take them. Here are the steps as well as I managed to catch them.

Paella

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 peeled Tomato chopped or two tablespoons chopped tomato from the can
  • 3 Tsp. Instant vegetable stock
  • 1 chicken- or turkey breast
  • Salt
  • 250 gr calamari, in hoops
  • Colorante or saffron
  • 250 gr shrimp, precooked (peeled or not according to taste)
  • Salt
  • 1 Glass of white wine
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Parsley, freshly shopped or freeze dried
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice

Instructions:

1. Pour a generous amount of olive oil into a deep wok-like pan or paella. The bottom should be evenly covered.

2. Sauté the cubed bell pepper on high heat for a few minutes.

3. Add the garlic and sauté for another two minutes until lightly beige.

4. Add the instant vegetable stock and the tomato and sauté.

5. Now add the meat and sauté until beige.

6. Add the calamari hoops and give it a stir. Sautè for a couple minutes.

7. Add the precooked shrimp now, if they are on the harder side. Otherwise you can add them at last.

8. Add the Colorante or saffron and stir.

9. Pour in white wine and leave it to reduce.

10. Add rice and roast it for a minute.

11. Pour in the hot water and reduce the heat to medium low. Technically once you pour the water in you no longer stir the paella, but that has never worked for us so far. Give it the occasional stir to be safe.

12. Crush 2 cloves of garlic with some salt, parsley and lemon juice in a mortar. Add that about five minutes before the rice is done.

13. Once the rice is cooked, check whether it needs any more salt. If it’s good then the paella is ready to serve.


RIP to our latest pan. We always try not to stir, it never works. I love this paella and it is really simple. Traditionally you would make the paella with risotto rice, but my mother hates how mushy that becomes. Feel free to make that change.

I have been toying with the idea of trying to put together a one hour Holiday dinner. How would you feel about that?

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