Thursday, February 7, 2013

Seafood Paella

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
It's the time of year, where Jason and I start to plan out our vacations for the year.  If it was up to me, I would go on vacation every month, but this pesky thing called work always gets in the way.  We just booked our first trip of the year this past weekend.  We decided to go to Barcelona for a little over a week in June. But before we even begin to look at hotels, I took my trusty Michelin Red Guide for Europe off the shelf to get the difficult discussions started.  Where are we going to eat?!

I have been to Barcelona before with Joanne when I was 17.  Our trip consisted of staying in youth hostels and trekking across Spain with giant backpacks weighing as much as Katie. It was definitely a trip to remember.  I can't wait to go back to Barcelona and experience it again in a different light.  My food choices have dramatically changed.  When I first went, I would avoid ham or any sort of pork product.  I loathed olives.  How much has changed... now I'm dreaming of having a big glass of cold Sangria, some tangy olives, and a beautiful plate of it June yet?

Seafood Paella 
I wanted to feature a dish I had when I was in Spain with Joanne.  We traveled to Valencia and had a huge platter of seafood paella on the beach.  While I don't remember the exact flavor, I do remember the experience, especially when we got to bill and saw they charged per person not per plate.  Quite a shocker for some kids trekking through Spain on a very limited budget. Nevertheless, paella still has a very warm spot in my heart.

Toro, Boston, MA
The recipe I'm featuring is from a local South End chef, Ken Oringer.  He has a restaurant called Toro a few blocks from my apartment.  It is always busy no matter what night you want to go, but it is worth the wait. Go in, put your name on the long list and head over to the bar to down some of his delicious Sangria.

I hope you enjoy this paella as much as I do!

Seafood Paella
inspired by Toro Resturant, Boston
serves about 4 people, time: 1 hr
  • Paella pan - if you do not have one, no need to run out an buy one.  I have one but then again I have a lot of random kitchen appliances (anyone want Yoda shaped cookies?)
  • Alternative to a paella pan is a 12 inch deep saute pan or a large heavy bottom dutch oven.  You may have to adjust the ingredients to fit into pan.  This recipe is designed a large paella pan
  • 1 cup of rice, use either Calasparra/Bomba rice (if you cannot find this use short grain rice)
  • 10 threads of saffron
  • 1 cup sliced Spanish chorizo
  • 1/4 cup of diced red pepper
  • 1/4 cup of sliced scallion bottoms
  • 1/4 cup of sofregit (explained below)
  • 1/4 cup of chopped Spanish onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 cup chicken breast/thigh meat sliced into chunks
    • You can use whole thighs or drumsticks if you desire
  • 1 1/2 cup of seafood stock (lobster if available)
  • 1 1/2 cup of chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cup of vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 top/neck clams
  • 5 large shrimp (raw) 
  • 15 mussels
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • Garnishes
    • scallion tops
    • olive oil
    • sea salt
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Over medium to high heat, saute garlic, onion, red pepper, scallion bottoms, sofregit, chicken, and chorizo in pan for 4 to 5 minutes.

Add rice and saffron to pan, stir so that everything is evenly coated.  Toast the rice for 4 to 5 minutes. Flatten out rice in pan.  Add all stocks to the pan and turn up heat to high.  Once boiling add the clams, cook for 5 to 10 minutes till they are open.  Add mussels and turn down to medium heat, once mussels open add shrimp and pees.  Keep on medium heat until shrimp and rice are cooked.  Rice should be cooked so that there is a crispy bottom, referred to as a Socarat.

You may need to add more stock if the mixture over reduces.

Garnish with scallion tops, olive oil, and sea salt

Notes on recipe
  • What is sofregit?  It is the starter for the majority of Catalan cuisine.  Think of it as the rue of Spain.  To make it dice up one small onion and saute in olive oil until translucent.  Add 2 cups of tomato paste, let this mixture reduce on low heat for 5 minutes 
    • you can reduce the amount down.  You only need 1/4 cup for this recipe.  I would suggest taking 1/2 small onion and add 1 cup of tomato paste.  
  • Saffron can be quite expensive.  If you cannot find the threads,  you can use saffron powder, or even buy saffron rice.  I would highly recommend getting the threads if your budget allows for it.  
  • If you want to spice up this recipe more, I'd add lobster.  Adding lobster to anything is always a good decision.  
Happy Cooking!!

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