Quick & easy Paella

Mark Hughes Leftovers, Light Lunches, Main Courses, Rubs, Spice, Taste products 0 Comments

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

Directions

  1. Dice the onion and sweat gently over a low heat in a splash of rapeseed oil for 4-5 minutes
  2. Add the chorizo (if using) and the Paella Spice seasoning; stir well and cook for 1 minute to kick start the spice
  3. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains in the oil and spice
  4. Turm up the heat and add the wine or vermouth, if using; keep stirring gently and be careful for flames!
  5. Once this has reduced completely, add the stock and give it a gentle stir
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. Take off the heat, squeeze over the lemon, sprinkle over the parsley and season to taste
  9. Serve with crusty bread and a cool, crisp wine!
The key difference between risotto and paella is the lack of stirring which makes it the perfect dish to impress with the minimum of fuss. In fact, the base should get a little dry, almost forming a light crust that’s packed with flavour. If you prefer not to have the crust, make sure you add a touch more stock and keep the heat low when cooking, but you really should try it!
There you have it, one of the quickest, easiest paella dishes you could wish for and, depending how extravagant you are with the seafood, relatively cheap. The Paella Spice seasoning is enough for 4-5 meals and a couple of handful of rice won’t cost much. The payoff, however, is incredible flavour and a dish you’ll want to try again!

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