Most non Spaniards consider paella as a national dish but Spaniards attribute this to Valencia. Moors in Muslim Spain started rice cultivation since 10th century. Rice has been made into casseroles using fish and spices since then and it really symbolizes the union of two cultures – Roman and Arabic.
To make a good paella, you need to use Bomba rice, saffron and really good full bodied stock. I feel your paella is only as good as your stock. If you don’t have a paella pan, use a stainless steel pan but do not use cast iron or non-stick pans. If you use a heavy bottomed pan, you will not get the very desirable soccarat. Soccarat is the rice that gets crunchy and forms a crust at the bottom of the pan.
200 grams monk fish fillets, cut into 5cm pieces
200 grams mussels, remove beards and scrub the shells
300 grams large prawns with their tails intact
250 grams bomba or calasparra rice
100 grams onion, finely chopped
1 large celery stick, peeled and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped very finely
A couple of pinches of chilli flakes
1 teaspoon mild or sweet paprika
A couple of pinches of saffron, soaked in a few spoons of warm water
100ml dry white wine like Riesling
½ cup of peas, soaked in water from a freshly boiled kettle
1 red pepper, chargrilled, peeled and cut into thin slivers
75 grams tomato, finely chopped
Rind of one lemon
650ml fish stock
50ml olive oil
Salt to taste
Season the fish and fry them briefly for 30 seconds on each side in the pan using some of the olive oil. Set aside.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a large paella pan or stainless steel fry pan. Fry the onions and celery for three minutes. Add the garlic and chilli flakes. Mix to combine.
Put the rice in and mix in the paprika. When it’s hot, add the wine and let it evaporate rapidly. Add the finely chopped tomato and the fish stock. Mix to combine and allow to cook (there is no need to mix like risotto) for 15 minutes.
Season with salt and stir in the saffron along with mussels and prawns. Allow to cook for three minutes and mix in the par cooked fish pieces. Allow to cook for a further minute. (The rice will be cooked in 20 – 25 minutes). At this stage the prawns should have a pinkish hue and the mussels opened up.
Just before stirring, top with the red pepper slivers and peas. Serve hot with a wedge of lemon on the side.
Serves 4 as a main.