Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Our lunch last Saturday. Paella!
Paella is a typical Spanish dish, traditionally cooked in a "paellera" - a round flat pan with two handles - which is then put on the table for all to see and admire. It is normally cooked using shellfish but can also be made with chicken,rabbit or only vegetables. In many Spanish villages, especially in coastal areas, they use a giant paellera to cook a paella on festival days which is big enough to feed everybody. A paella is very flexible so if you don’t have the exact ingredients or if you find some of them hard to get hold of, substitute them for something similar. Getting fresh shellfish can be a problem, but you can always use frozen fish and use fish stock instead of water to increase the flavour. There are hundreds of ways to cook a paella and every cook has their own favourite recipe. This one which I found on the internet and slightly modified to my personal taste, will serve 4 people:

2 onions, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1 red pepper, boiled until soft and then cut into long thin strips
8 medium-sized tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
100g peas, cooked
200g prawns (if using cooked prawns substitute fish stock for the water)
200g small clams
200g squid
12 mussels
350g rice (traditionally short grain rice is used)
2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
a pinch of saffron strands (if you can’t get saffron, use yellow food colouring instead and add it once you have added the liquid)
a sprig of parsley, finely chopped
olive oil
about 800ml water

MUSSELS: Wash the mussels, removing the beards. Throw away any that are open or smell funny. Boil the mussels in a pot without any water until they open.
FRESH SQUID: Rub off the outer dark skin. Pull out the insides (including the transparent back bone) and pinch the eye away from the tentacles. Save the tentacles. Cut the squid into rings. Or get frozen squid rings, if fresh are not available.
CLAMS: Discard any open clams. Wash in water and boil without any water until they open.
PRAWNS: Do not peel them, let your guests do it the Spanish way, with their own fingers while they are eating the paella. Grill the prawns until they are almost cooked.
GARLIC: In a pestle and mortar, grind the garlic, saffron (if using), parsley and a pinch of salt.

Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion, green pepper and fry gently for about five minutes. Add the chopped tomato and squid (with the tentacles) and fry on a low heat for another ten minutes.
Add the rice and stir well to make sure that it is thoroughly coated. Add water (or fish stock if using frozen fish), clams and the garlic/saffron/parsley mixture and bring to the boil. Season with salt. Put a lid on it, turn the heat right down and cook very slowly for about ten minutes. Add the prawns and peas and give it a stir. Arrange the mussels and strips of red pepper artistically on top, put the lid back on and leave for another ten minutes - checking that it has enough water. If you think it is getting too dry, add more water, but shake the handle of the pan rather than stir so as not to upset the pattern. Once the rice is cooked and the mussels have opened,let in rest for five minutes, covered and then it is ready to eat.

El almuerzo del sabado. Paella! Y bueno, arriba he dado la receta de la Paella en ingles. O una de las muchas recetas para preparar Paella, porque en cada casa se prepara de una manera distinta! No la traduzco porque me imagino que, si lees en castellano, ya sabes bien lo que es una Paella. Y nada...uno de mis platos preferidos y el primero que prepara mi madre cuando vuelvo a casa (por Navidad, como los turrones El Almendro, o en cualquier otra epoca del anio. A mi me da igual la epoca, la Paella siempre me va bien!).

The weather today:
Partly Cloudy
UV Index: 6 High
Wind: From the West Southwest at 9 mph
Dew Point: 16C
Humidity: 64%
Visibility: Unlimited
Barometer: 1,015.9 mb

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