Have you got friends round for lunch? Do you really want to impress them? Offer them this typically Valencian seafood paella.
One piece of advice: when it’s ready, don’t serve it up on plates. Put the paella in the centre of the table so that everybody eats from the same dish. It’s a sign of friendship or at least that’s the way we see it in the Valencian Community.
Another piece of advice: if you have the possiblity of using wood to cook it on, all the better.
So here are the ingredients for four people. If there are more of you, all you have to do is increase the quantities proportionally.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 water tumblers of rice
- Squid and cuttlefish
- Fish stock
- 4 Dublin Bay prawns
- 8 clóchinas (mussels from our area)
- Food colouring
- 8 large prawns
- Paprika or spicy red peppers
- Grated tomato
- Heat the extra virgin olive oil in the paella pan
- Slowly sauté the onion on a low heat
- Still on a low heat, now sauté the squid and cuttlefish
- After three or four minutes, move them to the side of the paella pan and in the centre, put the grated tomato.
- Mix all of the ingredients together and sauté them again on a low gas.
- Add the paparika or spicy red pepper.
- After a few minutes, add the rice and sauté for another three to four minutes.
- Once you’ve sautéd the rice, it’s now time to add the fish stock. Turn the gas up to bring it to the boil. You must add twice as much stock as rice so this time, it’s four water tumblers of liquid. Add a pinch of salt.
- The temperature must be high for the first five minutes. After that, you must start reducing it bit by bit. Leave it about 10 minutes on a medium heat and the same again on a low temperature until you see the liquid starting to evaporate.
- When you see the rice ‘appearing’ above the liquid, it’s time to add the prawns, Dublin Bay prawns and ‘clóchinas’ (mussels).
- Remove from the wood fire (if that’s what you used) or turn off the gas or electricity and cover the paella pan with tinfoil for 5 minutes. You must allow the rice to ‘dry out’.
And now it’s ready for serving.
There are three things that we want to make clear.
The first is about the ‘clóchinas’. This is the name we give to the auctoctonous variety of mussel in the Valencian Community. They’re somewhat smaller than the ones you’d buy from Galicia but with more flavour. In this link, you can read about the differences between ‘clóchina’ and mussel.
As far as the stock is concerned, it’s better if you make it by buying what we call ‘morralla’ (small fish such as whitebait) from the fishmonger’s. It’ll take you a couple of hours. But there’s no problem if you buy ready- made fish stock from the supermarket. We obviously prefer the first option, though.
You can use paprika or spicy red pepper. The latter is used mainly in the Valencian area.
And with this dish, you’ll really impress your friends. It’s around a paella that conversation and laughter arise spontaneously. It’s a dish you can prepare in summer or in winter. Serve it with a good local wine and enjoy.