Oh, paella, that little word that means so much to us Spaniards. Since moving to the UK, I’ve heard countless variations of it, is it pronounced pae-ay-ya or pae-el-a or pa-eh-la or is it a spawn-of-the-devil word that should never be uttered? Never fear, I am here to clear this mystery up. It is actually pa-eh-ya (audio clip attached) and, most importantly, it is absolutely delicious.
What you maybe don’t know is that paella to a Spaniard is like Sunday roast to a Brit: it is a tradition, no, an institution, and there are as many versions of it as there are families -my dad’s paella is best, though, this is a certifiable fact. While any purist will tell you that chorizo and peas definitely do not belong in a paella, you can pretty much use whatever you like to make it, as it originated in the Valencian countryside, where farmers would put any veg and game or seafood that was left over together with some rice.
So today, in true traditional spirit, I’m using what I have laying around in my fridge -king prawns and some broad beans grown in our garden- to make my own rather simple version of a traditional Sunday paella and I’ll share the ‘recipe’ with you in case you fancy giving it a go!*
You will need
Paella rice -a short-grain variety called Bomba and available in most supermarkets
Garlic cloves, loads of
A good preferably home-made fish stock (if you are making it from scratch, you will also need one celery stick, one tomato, and some white fish)**
A paella dish (I use a wok pan because I don’t have one, shame on me, but they look like this)
Sautee finely chopped garlic in olive oil and add the tomato puree as your base for the dish. Set aside.
Make a broth using water, the veg, the heads of the prawns and the fish. Add some salt and save for later.
On the pan, add some more olive oil and your tomato base. Stir for a couple of minutes and then add your rice, which will need to cook in this mixture for another couple of minutes (make sure not to burn it!). Add the stock you made earlier and the saffron -you can add more salt later if you need to. Leave it to simmer for about ten minutes and add the broad beans. Cook for a further five minutes and add your prawns -you can peel the shells, but I like to cook them whole. This is a good time to taste for salt and add some more if needed. Again, cook for a further 5 minutes, then cover with the kitchen foil and leave to rest for a few minutes before serving. Et voilà!
*This is how I make paella and it is not the traditional method, but it’s quick and tasty!
**If you are not a seafood lover, you can swap the prawns for chicken and the fish broth for chicken stock. You will also need to brown the chicken before adding the rice to the pan.