Like risotto, paella is sometimes thought of as a dark art, when in reality it’s pretty straightforward. Rick Stein once said that when he’d asked ‘how the risotto was’ in a restaurant, the answer was simply ‘we have some excellent stock’. Therein lies the secret; good stock turns a good risotto or paella a great risotto or paella. But, more on making stock in another post (it’s really easy). For now, we’ll assume you’ve either got a nice stock in the fridge or are using a nice shop-bought one. If you’re buying a concentrated stock, opt for the liquid or gel stock rather than a one of the famous cubes if you can as it will likely have less salt in it and this makes a big difference to the end result.
This is incredibly versatile dish and you can use prawns, squid, fish, in fact any seafood really. If you like chicken in yours, add a bit of that too. I usually have a ‘fish pie mix’ bag on the go in the freezer where I add any leftover (uncooked) prawns, fish or other seafood that isn’t enough for a meal on its own but is terrific for saving up.
Purists may well make their own paella seasoning, but ours has lovely spanish paprika, tomato, spanish saffron & more for a fantastic, authentic flavour with no fuss.
Ingredients (serves 2)
- 2 fish fillets, skinless – I used smoked haddock, but anything is fine
- 2 tsp Paella Spice seasoning
- 2 handfuls of rice (about 70g per person)
- 1 pint of vegetable or fish stock
- finely diced onion
- squeeze of lemon juice
- a few chunks of chorizo
- drizzle of rapeseed oil
- half a glass of dry wine, vermouth, noilly prat or similar (optional)
- pinch of salt & pepper
- handful of finely chopped, fresh parsley
- Dice the onion and sweat gently over a low heat in a splash of rapeseed oil for 4-5 minutes
- Add the chorizo (if using) and the Paella Spice seasoning; stir well and cook for 1 minute to kick start the spice
- Add the rice and stir to coat the grains in the oil and spice
- Turm up the heat and add the wine or vermouth, if using; keep stirring gently and be careful for flames!
- Once this has reduced completely, add the stock and give it a gentle stir
- Reduce the heat so it gently blips away for 12 minutes or so, or until the rice is cooked; you may need to adjust the heat to ensure the stock is on track to be fully absorbed by the end of the 12 minutes. Don’t be scared to add a touch more liquid if you get ahead of yourself though.
- 5 minutes before the rice is cooked and the stock is absorbed, add the fish fillets and jiggle them around in the pan so they’re pretty much covered; they’ll only need the final 5 minutes of cooking time. This would be the time to add any prawns, mussels or anything else you’re having
- Take off the heat, squeeze over the lemon, sprinkle over the parsley and season to taste
- Serve with crusty bread and a cool, crisp wine!