Don’t add too many ingredients – remember, paella is all about the rice and the ingredients are there simply to flavour it. Do not stir – I repeat – do not stir paella. It must have a dark crust on the bottom to impart that slightly smoky, deep flavour.
The resting time at the end is crucial so the flavours can marry. A rested paella always tastes much better than one hot from the stove.
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 6 large prawns
- 250g calamari or cuttlefish, cleaned and cut into rings
- Salt and pepper
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 3 tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 tsp saffron
- 2 tbsp warm water
- 2 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 litre water
- 1/3 cup peas
- 400g rice
- 150g white fish (ling, flathead or snapper), cut into large pieces
- 12 mussels, cleaned
- 2 lemons, in wedges
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- Heat the paella pan. Add 2 tbsp of the olive oil, then the prawns and calamari. Cook for a few minutes until brown all over and season with salt and a little pepper. Remove to a bowl.
For the Sofrito
- Add the rest of the oil to the same pan and, when hot, add the onion. Cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally until the onion has softened and is golden. Now add the garlic, cook for about 7-8 minutes until lightly coloured and softened. Now add the tomatoes, season liberally with salt and pepper and cook slowly until the sofrito has reduced and there is no liquid left. Add about 1/2 cup of water and continue to cook until the liquid has again reduced. This should all take about 45 mins and can be done ahead of time. The sofrito should have a concentrated flavour and pulpy consistency.
For the Paella
- While the sofrito is cooking, gently heat the saffron in a small pan for a few minutes, until it changes colour and becomes fragrant. Be careful as it burns easily. Remove from the heat, crush with the back of a spoon and add to 2 tbsp warm water. Add the prawns, calamari and paprika to the finished sofrito and cook, stirring for a few minutes, then add the water and bring to the boil. Taste mixture, adding salt if necessary.
- Add the saffron, peas and the rice and bring to the boil. Stir briefly then turn heat to low. Place the pieces of fish and mussels over the rice and poke them in a little so they can cook. Do not stir.
- Remove from the heat and cover with a tea-towel for 10 mins, then remove the tea-towel and allow to rest for another 5-10 mins before serving.
- Squeeze over the lemon juice and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
- Serve directly from the pan.