One of my summer objectives was to christen my paella pan, which I had received for my birthday. My thinking was to raise my beach BBQ game by cooking seafood paella on a homemade fire on the beach, instead of the usual BBQ fare. As it turned out transporting crockery for 10 (as I did not have any melamine bowls with me), was a daunting prospect so we made the decision to use the Weber BBQ at the cottage instead and eat in the garden as the weather has been so balmy. My paella pan was from http://www.thepaellacompany.co.uk and it’s important to buy one with a lid – especially if you do end of cooking it on a sandy beach!
Whilst it requires a little forward thinking when it comes to the ingredients itself the actual cooking was really good fun and comparatively easy. You do need a long spatula – something like this would be perfect and I also had some oven gloves. The final result was delicious and whilst I cooked for 10 the amounts below could definitely stretch to 12-14 if required. Most of us had seconds and even the dog had a little to try as well.
I had prepped and sourced all the correct ingredients – bomba rice being an absolute must. It is a short-grained variety grown in south Spain and unlike risotto rice does not require any stirring. It holds it’s shape during cooking and does not fall apart. You are aiming for the bottom of your rice to begin to char and crisp up on the bottom. In Spain when you are served up charred bits from the bottom, you known you have received the very best type of paella cooked with love and skill. I also rather handily found paella seasoning which you can source from Sous Chef.I popped in 3 sachets to my fish stock. I used fresh fish/seafood stock bought from Marks & Spencer. I can’t seem to see it online but you can certainly find it in the larger stores. Equally most fish mongers will have some, you can make your own, or use the cubed variety. Failing that opt for vegetable stock. The mussels you cook separately for 4-5 minutes and then remove 3/4 of the mussels from their shells.
I didn’t time how long it actually took to cook, but I would say that from the point of putting the oil in the pan to serving was around 30-40 minutes. It does depend on your heat source so please bear this in mind. From the time the rice goes in the pan it was 20-25 minutes max. I also didn’t measure the exact amount of extra boiling water I added or the exact amount of wine, but use your judgement. I added a little more liquid when I thought it looked too dry half way through cooking. I tasted the rice half way through and it was still a little too hard, so I added a little more water and replaced the lid back on the pan. I then tried again about 10-15 minutes later and it was perfect. You will notice I didn’t add any salt. This was because I felt the stock, chorizo and paella seasoning would contain it, but again use your judgement and taste and add a little if required.
It was such a fun meal to cook and had all the summer wow factors when serving. Adults, teens and tweens alike loved it and even the dog. I’ll be using it again over the summer both in London on the BBQ and also on the beach.
1.5 litres fish stock (or vegetable stock if you can’t find fish stock). I found fresh seafood/fish stock at M&S and used 3 packets which were around 400-500ml per packet.
3 packets of paella seasoning
300ml white or rose wine
6 tbsp olive oil, approx
2-3 large white onions, finely chopped
1 head of garlic, finely chopped
4 chorizo sausages, halved lengthways and then roughly chopped
1 tbsp smoked paprika flakes or smoked paprika powder
3 large tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
5 large squid tubes, cut into rings
1.5kg bomba rice
500ml boiling water, as required
2 glass of white wine + 1 glass of hot water
1.5kg mussels, beards removed and cleaned
1 handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
14 large king prawns shells and heads kept on
2-3 lemons, cut into 6 wedges per lemon
- If you are cooking this on the beach, proceed to step 9 first before continuing. Please note you will require a paella pan + a deep pan to cook the mussels
- In a deep saucepan bring the stock, paella seasoning and wine to the boil and then turn off the heat. You can do this on a BBQ or on a conventional hob. If cooking on a BBQ place the pan on a rack as opposed to directly on the hot coals.
- Place your paella pan on your BBQ and then add the olive oil, allow it to warm up – it won’t take long if your BBQ is already nicely hot.
- Add the onions and move them around the pan. After a 3-4 minutes add the garlic and after a further minute add the chopped chorizo.
- Allow to soften for a couple of minutes moving around the pan to help with the cooking. If your heat source is not consistently hot it may require a couple more minutes.
- Add the smoked paprika flakes or powder, chopped tomato and paste and mix in well. Allow to soften for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the squid rings and a minute later add the bomba rice. Move the rice around the pan so that it is evenly spread out. After a minute add the fish stock that you had warmed up earlier.
- Stir in well and then place a lid on the pan ( I also add the outer BBQ lid, but if you are doing this on a stone BBQ on the beach you won’t be able to do the latter, but that’s fine)
- On a separate hob (if you are cooking this at your house and not at the beach) add 2 glasses of white wine and hot water and bring to the boil in the large deep pan with a lid – use the same pan you warmed the stock. Add the mussels and give a good stir and then place a lid on the pan. Cover for 4 minutes and then add the chopped parsley. Check to see if the mussels have all opened and if not leave for another minutes or two giving a good stir. If it looks dry add a splash more white wine or water. Once they have all opened, remove from the pan and remove 3/4 of the mussels from the shell and place in a bowl. Place the rest of the mussels in another bowl and leave to one side.
- After 18 minutes once the rice has been in the pan, spread the prawns around the side of the paella. You can of course use prawns which have been shelled but I think it looks more rustic and authentic to have them in their shells. Scatter the de-shelled mussels around the rice and those in the shells. Place the lid back on the pan.
- After 3 minutes, turn the prawns over and replace the lid once again and leave for a couple of minutes.
- Taste test to see if the rice is nicely cooked. It will not be a soft and glutinous like risotto rice as it holds its shape. Scatter the lemon wedges and serve.
If you make this let me know how you get on by posting a comment below. It’s a definite crowd pleaser and a great way to feed a large group of people.