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Seafood Pealla

Seafood Paella Recipe

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The dark nights herald months of hibernating but also bring with them the time of year when shellfish are sweetest. I am a sucker for shellfish and rarely pass up the opportunity to order it when we’re out.

Our local farmers’ market has a good fish stall and their array of seafood draws me in every time. A few weeks ago they had bundles of razor clams which I couldn’t resist. I went back and fourth on how I would prepare them but once the idea of paella had taken hold I knew that’s what we needed.

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In the Autumn and Winter particularly, I feel the need to spend time cooking. To make nourishing meals which bring us together in the kitchen before a meal as much as they do during.

I find cooking paella for our Monday supper is a wonderful antidote to the sudden early evening darkness we’re plunged into. The golden spice, deep paprika and sweet shellfish are as comforting as any pie.

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When it comes to razor clams you can prepare them a couple of ways.

You can blanch them for a moment until the shell pops open before plunging them into iced water and trimming the meat. You can then add them to your dish for a couple of minutes to cook.

Or you can cook the in their shells and slice them once cooked. Either way they do best given a light hand.

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Although I’ve titled this seafood paella it is a paella mixta as I include chicken. I don’t use tomatoes for two reasons; firstly I’m allergic to them and secondly I’ve never had tomatoes in a paella in Spain. Plenty of recipes use them but it’s just not for me.

By all means use whichever shellfish and seafood you can for this recipe. I have used squid, muscles, clams and prawns as that was what was available to me.

I have a paella pan which I use. Cooking with one takes a bit of getting used to as they are much thinner then my other pans. I find it’s best to keep the heat low and increase it as needed than to have it too hot and burn the food.

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Seafood Paella Recipe

Olive oil

2 inch length of chorizo, diced

1 white onion, diced

2 inch piece of fennel, diced

1 clove of garlic

400g bomba (paella) rice

100ml white wine or vermouth if liked

One litre of chicken or fish stock

a generous pinch of saffron

2 chicken breasts, diced

1 medium squid, scored and sliced

100/150g of raw prawns, peeled and deveined

200/300g of assorted shellfish (muscles, clams, razor clams, scallops, cockles or even langoustine if you can get some)

To serve – chopped parsley and wedges of lemon.

Serves four to six people depending on appetite!

  • Prep all of your ingredients beforehand unless you have a co-chef!
  • Heat the stock and steep the saffron in 800ml of it while you work.
  • Gently heat the oil in the pan and add the cubes of chorizo.
  • When the chorizo is sizzling add the onion and fennel to the pan, squeezing in the garlic a moment later.
  • As the vegetables soften pour in your rice and let it absorb the delicious juices from the pan.
  • Once the rice has soaked up the flavour you can toss in your wine or vermouth if you’re using them. Sometimes I do sometimes I don’t and either way it’s nice.
  • Add the hot, saffron infused stock and allow the pan to simmer gently for 20 minutes.
  • Give the rice a turn once or twice but you can leave the paella to cook alone in a way that a risotto couldn’t bear.
  • Near the end of your 20 minutes brown the chicken in another pan and add it to the rice.
  • By now most of the liquid will have been absorbed and you can add a little of the remaining stock.
  • Place your seafood on top of the rice where it will steam in a couple of minutes. I’ve seen people in Spain cover the top with tinfoil at this point and either leave it on the hob or place under the grill to finish.
  • Once the squid has curled and the shellfish have opened* your paella is ready to serve.
  • Scatter chopped parsley over the top and add a wedge of lemon to each plate then dish out at the table.

*It would be remiss of me to not mention safety when dealing with shellfish. Wash them under cold water before cooking, any which do not close: discard. Any which do not open during cooking also discard.