This probably isn’t a real paella (Spanish purists, forgive me), but it is delicious. A trick of the true paella, which is worth aiming for, is to get the rice to stick and form a crust on the base of the pan – which you can only achieve with the right amount of moisture, and unlike risotto, you simply don’t stir it.
- 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
- 1 large red onion, peeled, finely diced
- 1 red capsicum, seeds removed, diced
- ½ green capsicum, seeds removed, diced
- ½ small fennel bulb, diced, fronds reserved
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled, chopped
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- pinch of saffron, soaked in 1 tbsp warm water
- 250 g Calasparra rice (see Note) or arborio rice
- 200 g cleaned squid tubes or 1 whole cleaned squid (see Note), cut into 2 cm pieces
- lemon wedges, 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.
Standing time 5 minutes
Heat olive oil in a paella pan or large shallow saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 4 minutes or until it starts to brown, then add capsicums, fennel and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Add paprika and cook, stirring, for a few seconds. Add tomatoes and saffron, and cook for 3 minutes or until tomato has softened.
Stir in rice, 700 ml water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low and cook for 25 minutes. If it’s too dry, add up to an extra 125 ml (½ cup) water. Don’t let rice become dry until it is nearly cooked; then you want it to crust on the base. When rice is cooked and moisture has mostly gone, press squid into the rice. Cook for a further 5 minutes or until squid is starting to colour.
Remove pan from heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Top with the fennel fronds and serve immediately with lemon wedges.
• Calasparra rice is often used for paella. It is available from delis and specialist food shops.
• To prepare squid, pull tentacles with the heads away from the hoods, removing them with the internal sac. Cut off tentacles and reserve. Discard the head and the sac. Pull out the quill (clear cartilage) and discard. Peel the skin from the hoods then rinse well.
Photography Alan Benson. Food Preparation Tobi Armbruster. Styling Michelle Crawford.
As seen in Feast magazine, October 2014, Issue 36.