Okay, I’ll be the first to admit. This isn’t exactly a paella–but if it looks like a paella, smells like a paella…
But due to circumstances beyond my control, this ended up somewhat like a pseudo-paella. Those circumstances include:
- I didn’t have the right kind of rice, so I used brown rice which is delicious, healthy, and takes a million times longer to cook.
- Paella already takes a million years to make, and 1,000,000 x 1,000,000 is a really long time to wait.
- We were all very hungry.
- I also didn’t have a paella pan, and the one I used was too large in diameter for the burner underneath it (uneven cooking), but the only one large enough to contain all the ingredients.
Alas. Such is life. Also, it was still delicious, so I’m willing to call it a success. I’ve also learned a lot about making paella and I think my next one will be much better!
Seafood Paella (original recipe here from Annie’s Eats)
- 1/4 C + 1 t extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 tomatoes, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced, and 4 whole cloves
- 1 1/2 t smoked paprika (first time trying this–yum!!)
- 1 C clam juice
- 1 1/2 lbs mussels
- 12 jumbo shrimp, peeled with shells reserved
- 1 lb scallops
- 2 C rice–supposed to be “Spanish Bomba” rice, but I used long grain brown rice
- Salt to taste
There should also be saffron involved, but we didn’t have any and there wasn’t any at the grocery store. If you want the original recipe, check it out at Annie Eats, but here’s what we came up with.
First make the broth–if you want this to be a quicker recipe, you could use a previously make seafood broth, or even chicken broth in a pinch. Heat the shrimp shells in a saucepan over medium-high heat for a few minutes until they turn pink. Add a handful of mussels (I used 10-12) and five C of hot water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer for ten minutes. Strain through a sieve and add the clam juice–that’s your broth!
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pan (preferably a “paella pan”, whatever that is). When hot (you’ll see it “shimmer”) toss in the diced tomatoes and onion. Let it cook up for a bit, then add the garlic, smoked paprika, and salt (I used about a 1/4 t). Turn the heat down low, and let it simmer and thicken until it becomes a nice dark color, and very thick. Add the rice and stir it around for a minute. Spread the rice mixture out in an even layer throughout the pan, and gently ladle the broth over the top, trying to maintain the even layer of rice.
Now, if you are making a real, grownup paella, you don’t want to stir the rice again! You want it to develop a nice, thick, carmelized crust on the bottom. If you are working on a time crunch and it’s easier to just stir everything in at the very end, I won’t judge you. You just probably shouldn’t call this a paella. But sometimes life happens!
Bring the rice/broth mixture to a vigorous simmer. It’s also important that the heat be distributed pretty evenly, bubbling all the way to the edges so you can get that nice even bottom crust.
I didn’t get that. Do you still love me?
Once the rice has absorbed most of the liquid, layer the remaining mussels on the top and cook for a few more minutes–they should be opening up. Any mussels that don’t open up by the end should be chucked. After two minutes, add the shrimp, pressing them into the rice. Check the rice at the bottom (is it carmelizing?) by scraping at it with a spatula–you should have a nice crusty resistance, and the rice on top should be fully cooked. If the broth evaporates too fast, just add a bit of water or loosely tent with foil.
Heat the last t of olive oil in a small pan, and quickly sear the scallops. Toss them on top of the whole mixture and serve. Season with salt to taste (and I topped with a dash of smoked paprika–it’s so delicious! Why did I wait so long to discover it?).
Despite the fact that this didn’t turn out exactly how I hoped it would, the taste was still really good. I love seafood, and mostly have scallops and shrimp when I come home to see my parents, ’cause they usually have some in the freezer just waiting for me.
I also discovered that I love mussels today! I wasn’t sure if the mussel taste would be overpowering, but I had no issues with it whatsoever. It also went quite nicely with the white wine Mom picked out for us.
Since it is Memorial Day weekend, I welcomed summer by reading an entire book (the majority of it outside in the sun), going kayaking with Dad, and having a nice long after-dinner neighborhood walk with Mom and the giant wolfhound. All in all, a perfectly relaxing day. Not sure of our plans for tomorrow, but hopefully it will begin with me sleeping in all the way until at least 10:00–and then possibly making a red, white, and blue confection? We’ll see what I find.