I was missing the food in Barcelona (although I understand paella is from Valencia), so I tried to make paella from scratch using this recipe with some adjustments to fit my laziness (instead of clams and cuttlefish, I had shrimp, frozen scallops, and vegetarian Italian sausage tossed with taco mix to pass as fake chorizo). Basically, the point of my writing this is that I had a lot of doubts about my ability to make a good paella based on my lack of authentic ingredients and equipment, but have no fear. You don’t need a paella pan to make paella (I used a wide cast iron pan with shallow sides), you don’t need some kind of specialized Spanish rice, and you don’t need a whole lot of ingredients. You do need saffron though… I found a nice tiny box at Cost Plus for $4.99.
So, adapted from the above-linked Gastronomy blog (I think if you follow that one, it would be best plus the photos are much prettier, but even using my shortcuts, it was still really good), the recipe:
pinch of saffron, crushed, soaked 15 min. in 1/4 cup hot water or chicken broth/stock
5-10 large shrimp, deveined, tail-on, peeled (I actually peeled one as a test and left the others intact, and I felt that the peeled one had much more flavor)
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tb. tomato paste (original recipe calls for tomatoes, I didn’t have any)
1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
1 Tb. paprika plus more for the shrimp
4 cups chicken broth/stock (other recipes use fish or seafood stock)
2 cups short or medium grain rice (I used Calrose medium grain)
handful of frozen or canned green beans
handful of frozen or canned peas
olive oil, oregano, salt & pepper
lemon, cut in wedges
*OPTIONAL: chorizo, cut in bite size pieces (I used vegetarian Italian sausage because I need to get rid of it, so I heated it in the microwave and added when the paella was almost done; if you use real chorizo, saute it right after the shrimp and leave in the pan when you add the onions, pepper, etc.)
Pat shrimp dry, coat with a little olive oil and season with paprika and oregano. Heat olive oil in a wide pan over high heat. Saute shrimp for 5 minutes. Set aside. Add some more oil if the pan is a little dry. Add onion, garlic, scallops or whatever other seafood/meat you might want to use, tomato paste, bell pepper, and 1 Tb. paprika. Saute until onions are soft. Add saffron water and stock, bring to a boil, then distribute uncooked rice into the pan evenly. Let it cook over high or medium high for 10-12 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed. The rice is done cooking when it is al dente, although I prefer a little softer. With about five minutes left, I add the frozen green beans and peas to cook. To finish, top with shrimp and lemon wedges, make it pretty, take a picture, then ruin the whole thing by digging in and serving.
Drink with wine! Or sangria! I didn’t have either of those, so I made do with some whisky and coconut water (not mixed together).
Ooh, next I should try squid ink paella! So yum. This dish was really easy to make and I used up a lot of rice that was sitting around for a while. Yes, I’m Asian, and I rarely eat rice. It’s very strange.