Although paella originally hails from Valencia, over half of Spain’s rice is grown in the area of Seville and all kinds of rice dishes are popular in the Andalucian region. You simply can’t visit Spain without trying a traditional paella and I usually go for a seafood one. The subtle spicing of smoked paprika and saffron works so well with fish and seafood. Always cook a paella with a short-grain or round rice which absorbs liquid well, holds onto its starch and remains al dente. This dish is great for a dinner party and looks impressive served at the table for everyone to tuck in.
Warm the stock in a saucepan over a low heat and add the saffron. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for 5–10 minutes.
Heat the oil in a paella pan or wide deep frying pan over a medium–high heat, add the onion and fry for 6–8 minutes until soft and just beginning to turn golden. Add the garlic and pepper and cook gently for 4 minutes, taking care that the garlic doesn’t burn. Stir in all the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the paprika and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the wine and let it bubble for 1 minute, then add the rice. Stir well until all the rice is coated with the wine and oil, then add the infused stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the peas and arrange the seafood on top of the rice, nestling the pieces down. Continue to cook over a low-medium heat, without stirring, for about 8 minutes. Keep an eye on the pan – if it begins to look too dry before the rice has cooked through, add a little hot stock or water. The finished dish shouldn’t be wet: you are after a crunchy crust on the bottom.
Turn off the heat, then cover the pan with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Remove the foil and check that all the mussels are open (discard any that aren’t). Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve with the lemon wedges for squeezing over.
- 500ml fish stock
- a large pinch of saffron
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 red pepper, de-seeded and sliced
- 200g ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tsp hot/sweet smoked paprika
- 50ml dry white wine
- 200g Calasparra, Bomba or other short-grain rice
- 150g frozen peas
- 200g baby squid, cleaned and cut into thick rings
- 12 raw tiger (or king) prawns, peeled and de-veined
- 4 large raw tiger prawns, with shells left on
- 150g mussels, scrubbed
- a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges