There are as many versions of the original Valencian paella as there are cooks, and the defining element of modern-day interpretations is the pan. If you don’t have a paella pan, use a wide heavy-based frying pan. Unlike risotto, stirring is forbidden because the socarrat – the caramelised crust that forms on the bottom of the pan – helps give paella its authenticity. This dish is perfect for enjoying communally.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 (400 g) chicken thigh fillets, cut into 5cm pieces
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 red capsicum, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp Spanish smoked paprika (pimentón)
- pinch of saffron threads
- 60 ml (¼ cup) white wine
- 70 g (¼ cup) passata
- 625 ml (2½ cups) fish stock
- 300 g (1½ cups) Calasparra rice (see Note) or arborio rice or other short-grain variety
- 8 (360 g) green king prawns
- 2 small squid, cleaned (see Note), sliced
- 20 (500 g) pot-ready mussels (see Note)
- 40 (400 g) clams, purged (see Note)
- 40 g (⅓ cup) frozen peas
- 4 pimientos (see Note), torn
- flat-leaf parsley leaves and lemon cheeks, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 10 minutes
DRINK 2009 Próximo by Marqués de Riscal, Rioja, Spain ($10)
Heat oil in a 34 cm paella pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes or until golden. Add chicken and cook for 2 minutes or until browned. Add thyme, onion and capsicum, and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Add paprika and saffron, stirring to coat. Add white wine and passata, and cook for 2 minutes or until slightly reduced. Add stock and bring to the boil.
Add rice, prawns and squid to paella, stirring for the last time. Bring to the boil and cook for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low, push mussels and clams into rice and cook for a further 15 minutes or until rice has absorbed all liquid. Scatter with peas and pimientos, increase heat to high and cook for a further 5 minutes or until a crust forms on the base; you will smell the rice starting to “toast”.
Remove pan from heat and cover with a clean, damp tea towel for 10 minutes. Serve scattered with parsley and lemon cheeks on the side.
• Calasparra rice is a short-grain rice from Calasparra, Murcia. It is often used for making paella and is available from delis and specialist food shops.
• To prepare squid, pull tentacles with head away from the hood, removing with internal sac. Cut off tentacles and discard. Discard head and sac. Pull out quill (the clear cartilage) and discard. Peel the skin from the hoods.
• Pot-ready mussels are cleaned and bearded. They are available from most fishmongers.
• Purge clams by washing in cold water three times. Rather than straining, pull clams out of the water to avoid pouring the dislodged sand and grit back over the clams. Place in a bowl of cold water with 75 g rock salt for 2 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse under running water.
• Pimientos are roasted capsicum, deseeded and peeled. They are available in jars or cans from select supermarkets and specialist food shops.
Photography by Chris Chen. Drinks suggestions by Dan Coward.