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15 July, 2011


(pron: pay-ay-ya)

Paella probably has its origins in a Moorish rice pilaff, introduced during the long Moorish occupation of Spain. Even the name Andalucia is Arabic in origin. However, in style and flavour paella is unmistakably Spanish, and in my opinion perhaps the best rice dish in the world.

If you love paella, it is well worth investing in a good quality paella pan, which you will be able to find in the kitchen section of good department stores - or do a web search for one and buy it online. A large frying pan or a wok are good alternatives.

Serves 4-6

4 tbsp olive oil
Half a medium Spanish onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 rasher of belly pork, skinned and cut into small pieces
2 chicken thighs, skinned and boned and cut into small pieces
2 cups of paella rice
A pinch of real saffron
1 cup of frozen peas or trimmed fresh mange-tout

Half a red pepper, roughly chopped
Half a litre of fish stock
200g mixed fish pieces (hake, cod and salmon are great)
100g large peeled prawns
100g prepared squid
Chopped parsley for garnish

Heat the oil in a paella pan and add the onion, garlic, chicken and pork. Stir and fry to seal the meat and flavour the oil.
Add the dry rice and stir to coat each grain in the oil.
Add the saffron.
Add half of the fish stock and bring the pan to a fast simmer for 10 minutes, adding more stock as necessary to keep the pan bubbling away.
Stirring is unnecessary, but you may just wish to turn the ingredients in the pan occasionally.
Add the peas/mange-tout and peppers and return the pan to a fast simmer.
You need to stay with the pan and watch closely as the rice begins to cook through, testing a few grains - until it reaches an al-dente texture.
Add all the fish, squid and prawns, arranging it evenly over the rice.
Add more water or stock if necessary, but don't overdo it - you want the rice to absorb the last of the liquid as the fish cooks.
Turn the heat down very low and cover the pan loosely with foil. Leave like this until the rice is perfect.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.


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