This pasta paella is fantastic to share, sitting around the table on a summer’s afternoon and rinsing away the black dye left on your lips with a few bottles of ‘vino rosado’.
- 12 large clams or pipis
- 2½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 300 g (10½ oz) fideo pasta or thick spaghetti cut into 2.5-cm (1-in) lengths
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 red capsicum (bell pepper), finely diced
- 2 150 g (5½ oz) whole calamari, cleaned, hoods finely diced, tentacles set aside
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 ripe tomatoes, grated, skins discarded
- sea salt flakes
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) dry sherry
- 1 litre (34 fl oz/4 cups) good-quality fish stock, plus extra if needed
- 4 8 g (⅓ oz) squid ink sachets
- 8 large raw prawns (shrimp), heads removed
- lemon wedges, to serve
- 185 g (6½ oz/¾ cup) good-quality whole-egg mayonnaise
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
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.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) fan-forced.
- Place the clams in a large bowl and cover with plenty of cold water. Set aside for 1 hour to purge them of any sand or grit, then drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, toss 2 tablespoons of the oil with the fideos in a large bowl until well coated. Spread the fideos in a single layer on two large baking trays and bake for 6–8 minutes, stirring and rotating the pasta to evenly toast. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Heat the remaining oil in a 32–34 cm (12¾–13½ in) paella pan or large ovenproof frying pan over medium–low heat and add the garlic and capsicum. Gently sauté for 8–10 minutes, until soft and the colour has leached out of the capsicum into the oil. Using a slotted spoon, remove the capsicum from the pan and set aside on a small plate.
- Add the diced calamari and sauté for 3–4 minutes, then add the onion and cook for 10–12 minutes, until softened and beginning to colour. Stir in the grated tomato and 1 teaspoon of salt and increase the heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, for 12–15 minutes, until you have a chocolate-coloured ‘sofrito’. Stir through the sherry and cook until evaporated.
- Meanwhile, pour the stock into a saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and stir through the squid ink.
- Stir the toasted fideos into the ‘sofrito’ and mix well to coat. Add the stock and gently shake the pan to evenly distribute the pasta, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated. If you’re unable to achieve an even heat, rotate the pan around the burners on the stovetop, so that each side of the pan cooks evenly.
- Place the clams, prawns and calamari tentacles on top of the fideos and continue to cook, shaking the pan occasionally, for 4–5 minutes. If you don’t trust the surface of your pan, create a few holes in the mixture using the end of a wooden spoon to check if the base is burning. If so, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and add a little more stock if necessary.
- Scatter the reserved capsicum over the top and transfer the pan to the oven for 10 minutes.
- To make the allioli, combine the mahonesa and garlic in a small bowl with a pinch of salt.
- Serve the paella in the centre of the table with lemon wedges and the allioli on the side.
Recipes and images from Islas: Food of the Spanish Islands by Emma Warren, Smith Street Books, RRP $49.99