Seafood, saffron, moist rice... what's not to love!

A Medley of Flavours!

I love Paella! To me, it stands for everything good. Seafood and specifically those beautiful red langoustines, the shellfish, saffron, and of course the rice! The combination of flavours in Paella are heavenly, but best of all is the almost melt in your mouth experience! Love, love love… ūüėČ

Invite your friends, spread out a table with flatware, pour the wine and turn on the music, because you are about to serve absolutely delicious food. It is worth mentioning here that the use of Chorizo in the making of Paella is in fact a South american tradition, and not the authentic Spanish Paella ingredient. I have kept it here, because I know that most people love it in Paella, however if you wish to go authentic, remove it. Also Green beans are the beans of choice alongside white butter beans. I have gone with the peas here as they are my personal preference.

The Saffron

When talking about Paella, I find, it is a must to tap a little bit into Saffron. The world’s most expensive spice is not so for no reason!¬†Saffron has been famous since ancient times. It has been used as medicine, food colouring, as well as for flavouring food with its distinct flavour. Saffron threads which you see and use in your kitchens are essentially the threads of the Crocus Sativus Flower, which is originally the product of Western Asia, specifically Persia. Past trade routes had spread Saffron trade to Europe and India, where aspiring merchants tried to cultivate it. Cultivation worked in Spain and despite many attempts, did not go so well in Germany, Italy and France… Nowadays Persia and Spain are the world’s largest Saffron producers. Persia being the largest.

The reason why this spice is expensive is because of its rarity, and difficulties of cultivation, as it requires specific climate and soil conditions. Even when all goes well and cultivation works, 1 acre of land filled with Crocus Sativus flowers will yield only 10 pounds of Saffron threads!!

If you are an avid user of Saffron, then it is worth investing in buying large amounts. Yet, if you are the average home user, then it is best to buy good quality Saffron in smaller amounts. With that said, to store saffron, in order for the flavours not to¬†diminish, it is best kept in a cool, dry and dark place, in an airtight container, ideally for up to 6 months. Under these conditions, saffron will remain good for up to three years, as in it won’t go bad! Mind you, after 6 months the flavours will start¬†diminishing, which is why, it is best to purchase small amounts if you don’t use it regularly.

As with any spice, whole is always more powerfully flavoured than ground. It is therefore, always better used as threads, rather than powder. However, if you only have access to powdered Saffron, make sure it is good quality saffron, by tasting it, as it could be mixed with ground turmeric (Kurkum) and other threads. This of course is not refering to the other time of ground saffron, which is in fact a saffron root (popular in Indian and creole cuisines) instead of the saffron threads we are talking about.

In application, Saffron threads are sometimes soaked in a liquid, mainly: water, rose water, or milk to prepare it for cooking. At other applications it could be toasted then ground before use in a recipe. Or as is the case with Paella, the threads are added straight to the cooking rice.

Let’s get right into the making of my favourite Seafood Paella.

Ingredients

Serves: 4-6
  • 8¬†fresh black mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
  • 6 fresh langoustines, kept whole
  • 5¬†Fresh baby squids, cleaned and sliced
  • 12 Fresh clams, scrubbed
  • 200g¬†Chorizo, sliced (optional, not authentic to Spanish Paella)
  • 150g fresh peas in the pod or frozen peas
  • 1 red capsicum, finely chopped
  • 1 ripe tomato, skinned and roughly chopped
  • 1 brown¬†onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2¬†cups medium grain rice
  • 1/4 cup DS Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1.5 Liters¬†cups¬†Seafood Broth (best is lobster broth when available)
  • 1 cup white wine, or 1/2 cup sherry vinegar
  • A¬†pinch of good quality Saffron threads
  • 1/2 tsp smoked Paprika
  • Salt & Black pepper to taste
  • Finely chopped parsley for garnish
  • Lemon wedges

In a large Paella dish, heat the olive oil and saute the garlic, onion, capsicum and tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper and smoked paprika, then add the chorizo and saute for 2 minutes.

Once the vegetables are properly softened, add the rice and stir to mix and coat. Then spread the rice and top with the langoustines, clams and mussels (this is so we allow the shells to lend their flavour to the paella, we will not keep them here until done). Pour the wine over all and sprinkle with the saffron threads. Then pour the seafood broth and stir all once to incorporate. The broth should cover all the rice. Bring to a boil. Turn the seafood once, to evenly cook on all sides.

Once boiled, reduce the heat to simmer and remove the seafood from the paella dish and place in a separate dish, covered until ready to use.

Once the liquid is almost absorbed, add the peas and push into the rice, then add the sliced baby squid all over the top, pushing lightly into the rice, without stirring the rice. Cook f0r 5-7 minutes. Return the mussels and clams spreading them over the top. Place the langoustines around the centre on top. The rice should be done by now, if not, then cover and cook for 5 minutes extra.

 

 

Once done, sprinkle all with a little sea salt, fresh black pepper and chopped parsley.

Serve immediately.

You may also like…