Seafood Paella

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.

Seafood Paella

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

 

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Add the smoked paprika flakes or powder, chopped tomato and paste and mix in well. Allow to soften for 2-3 minutes.
  7. 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.
  8. 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)
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. After 3 minutes, turn the prawns over and replace the lid once again and leave for a couple of minutes.
  12. 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.

 

 


Dreaming of Kerala – Squid Coconut Fry

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Kerala, often called ‘God’s own country’, is the perfect destination for the avid traveller who seeks adventure, beauty and tasty food. It encompasses so many different experiences and terrain in this sunshine state that no day is ever quite the same. Over the course of the last few weeks my family and I (and not other animals) spent time in Cochin, exploring their diverse places of worship as well admiring their famous Chinese fishing nets.

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The Western ghats, which provide the state, and much of the wider world, with tea, cardamom and coffee.

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The calming, slower pace of life in the emerald backwaters,

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and of course the palm fringed beaches of the coast and the gloriously warm Arabian sea.

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Along the way I met some wonderful people, both locals and fellow travellers, who all made our experience of Kerala very memorable. It was tough to say goodbye to the warm rays and friendly smiles and head back to a much colder London, which is now firming in the throes of winter.

During our travels I learned to cook a wealth of Keralan recipes from chefs and home cooks who welcomed us into their homes and kitchens. Meet some of them below. From left ‘Mummy’ from Philip Kutty’s Farm,  Sreeja  from Marari Beach Hotel and Moly from Cochin, who allowed me to shadow her for the day.

Prior to visiting the state I had a preconceived notion that a lot of the cuisine would be vegetarian, however this is not the case. In Kerala, Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Jews (there are only 6 now left in Cochin) live harmoniously and respectfully amongst one another. As such we feasted on chicken, lamb, pork and beef as well as delicious fresh and seawater fish, shellfish and a host of vegetarian dishes. Coconut oil and coconut in many forms, is the heart of many Keralan dishes along with the irresistibly sour tamarind and kokum, the latter being new to me. “Kera” in Malayalam (the language of Kerala) means coconut. As Kerala is abundant with coconut plants, it naturally got the name Kerala. Yes, many of the dishes in Kerala have heat, but with the cooling qualities of  coconut, many had their chilli bite tempered.

Over the coming months I will intersperse my blog posts with temptingly delicious Keralan dishes that will hopefully encourage you to try cooking them at home.

First up is ‘Squid Coconut Fry’, which in all honesty takes 10 minutes and that includes the prepping and cooking. So look no excuses not to give this a whirl. It is so good you’ll be cooking it time and time again. IMG_2160

 Squid Coconut Fry

Serves 2 (or 4 if serving with other dishes)

2 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

2 dried red Kashmiri chillies, halved and seeds removed if you like it less hot

10 pieces of thinly sliced fresh coconut or dried coconut slices

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tsp ginger paste

1 fresh green chilli (2 if you like it hot)

10 curry leaves

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

300g squid tubes, chopped into thin rings

1/4 juice of a lemon

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 garam masala

  1. First get all the ingredients ready as the dish takes no time to cook and you will want to eat it immediately. This dish is not good to be reheated.
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a pan. When it is hot add the mustard seeds and red chillies followed by the thin coconut slices. Keep the heat on a medium to low heat.
  3. After 20 seconds add the garlic, ginger, fresh green chilli and curry leaves.
  4. Move around the pan for a minute before adding the red onion and salt.
  5. Now add the chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and allow the flavours to come together in the pan. Allow the onion to soften for 3-5 minutes
  6. Add the squid and move around the pan. Cook for a further 3 minutes.
  7. Add the lemon, pepper and garam masala. Move the ingredients around the pan.

Serve immediately. All the wonderful flavours will have wrapped themselves around the squid culminating in the most appetising of dishes.

Quick and easy. I would serve with rice, a vegetable curry and a dal (see my recipe library).

 


10 Minute Asian Squid With Noodles

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I love all the traditional feasting around Christmas and the warm, inviting smells that come from the kitchen. Sometimes however, I think it is rather refreshing to have a completely different, spicy type of dish to feed the family over the Christmas week.

Squid is very economical, especially if you are feeding large numbers and takes minutes to cook. So I imagine you have been feasting royally over Christmas and Boxing Day and you crave something a little lighter and perhaps a chilli kick. You want minimum fuss to prepare a work of wonder. Step forward my ‘Asian Squid with Noodles’ to feed the family. It really is ridiculously easy and quick and you will be rewarded by many happy faces. By all means tone down the chilli if you are feeding to little ones (I tend to do a separate one for my youngest).

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I find the best place to buy squid is fresh from the fishmonger or from the fresh fish counter at your local supermarket. The fishmonger can gut the squid for you so that all you need to do is to cut it into rings. Gutting the squid yourself though can be rather good fun, but perhaps not if you are squeamish. I will do a vimeo of me doing it next time I make this and will then paste it up here for you to see. Watch this space. It’s actually very easy and my daughters actually enjoy helping me with this part.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year.

10 Minute Asian Squid With Noodles

serves 4

2 tbsp sesame oil

1/2 white onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, finely sliced

1 inch of ginger, finely grated

1 red pepper, chopped

2 green chillies, finely sliced

1 handful of fresh sugar snaps

400g squid, cut into rings

1 tbsp five spice powder

3 tbsp light soy sauce

1 handful of fresh coriander

250g medium egg noodles

1 lime, quartered

1. In a bowl add the five spice powder to the squid rings and put to one side.

2. Place the oil into a wok or shallow pan and add the onion, garlic, ginger. Cook on a medium heat for a couple of minutes before adding the red pepper, green chillies, sugar snaps. Cook for a further couple of minutes before adding the five spiced squid.

3. Move around the pan so that ingredients do not burn. Add the soy sauce and continue to cook for 3 more minutes.

4. Boil the egg noodles according to the packet and then drain and serve into bowls.

5. Just before serving add the fresh coriander to the squid.

6. Spoon the Asian squid onto the noodles, place the lime on top and serve immediately.