Friday, August 10, 2007

Paella without the Pan

Chicken and Seafood Paella

I never attempted this dish before with the excuse that I don't have a paella pan. After K's fried rice episode, I wanted to try it out...and hi, anyone knows where to get a decent paella in Kota Kinabalu?

Anyway, I figured if Rasa Malaysia could do a clay pot rice without the pot, a paella without the paellera would do just as well. I made do with a 14 inch pan. Searched through the Internet and adapting from 2-3 recipes (Global Delights, Spanish-Recipes ...) that looked promising and not too 'ma fun' (troublesome), I came up with this version after three attempts.

Definitely hit the jackpot with this one-pot dish to feed this hungry family that loves rice. It took more than 30 minutes (roughly 1 hour) but definitely worth the while. This paella relies on a good sofrito for its delicate flavour. The chicken and seafood contrast nicely with the sweet bell peppers and the delicate herbs.

Seafood and chicken Paella
Serves 4-6

4 chicken thighs, cut into small pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper
10-12 fresh prawns (2-3 per person)
2 cups rice, preferably short-grain
8 to 10 threads of saffron - immersed in the hot stock
3-4 cups hot stock or water, season with salt
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
Freshly ground pepper and salt, to taste
Lemon wedges, to garnish

Ingredients for the sofrito:
2-3 ripe tomatoes, skinned and grated
1 big red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped

1) Set a 14-inch paella pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken; saute until the chicken is golden, 5 to 10 minutes.

2) Transfer the partially cooked chicken to a plate.

3) Reduce the heat to medium low. In the same pan, saute the red pepper slices slowly until they're very limp, adding more oil if necessary; transfer the pieces to a plate, cover with foil, and set aside. When cooled, peel off the skin.

Alternatively, put the peppers on the stove top and grill until soft and charred. Put into a bowl and cover. When they are cooled, peel off the charred skin, deseed and slice.

4) Now to cook the sofrito: in the same pan, if there's more than 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan, pour out the excess. Increase the heat to medium, saute the grated onion and sliced garlic until the onion is soft and slightly brown, about 5 minutes. Add the grated tomato. Season well with salt, saute until the water from the tomato has dried out and the mixture, called a sofrito, darkened to a brownish color becomes a very thick puree (jam-like consistency)

5) Add the rice to the sofrito, stirring until it's translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread out the rice (it should just cover the bottom of the pan), and arrange the chicken in the pan. Increase the heat to medium high, pour in 3 cups of the hot saffron-infused stock (reserving 1 cup) and add in herbs and seasoning. Do not stir.

6) Bring the stock to a boil, cook until the rice begins to appear above the liquid, 6 to 8 minutes. Lay the peppers in the pan, starburst-like. Continue to simmer, rotating the pan to cook all sides, until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is al dente, another 15 to 20 minutes.

7) If the liquid is absorbed but the rice is not done, add a little more hot stock or water to the pan and cook a few minutes more.

8) Add the prawns, cook for another 2 minutes with the pan covered, this will help to ensure that the prawns and the top layer of rice is evenly cooked.

9) With the cover still in place, increase the heat to medium high and, turning the pan, cook until the bottom layer of rice starts to caramelize, 1 to 2 minutes - you can hear a crackling sound, remove the pan immediately from the heat before a burnt smell is detected.

10) Let the paella rest, still covered, 5 to 10 minutes.

11) Garnish with lemon wedges, and serve.

1st try- Rice tasted good but was burnt black at the bottom...

2nd try- Used a bigger pan. Peeled the pepper but not the prawns, used hot water instead of stock.

good to the last morsel...

Note: Another item to my kitchen wish list - a 16" paella pan! This is one dish I will cook again... next try -- with clams and mussels!.



Terri @ hungerhunger said...

hi i got my beautiful 35 cm paella pan at Seribu Jadi in Asia City years ago...dunno if they still have it. i even use it for sukiyaki.

Anonymous said...

I admit that I do like paella, though not crazy over it. My taste gravitates more to the oriental/local spice fare. Biryani ftw! :-)

Having said that I love it when the rice carmelizes at the bottom, if its a bit burnt, so much the better, crispy, crunchy! I spend quite a bit of time digging out the burnt rice from the claypot chicken rice whenever I have it :-)


The Drool Team said...

Is the shop still there?

The Drool Team said...

Chan: u know ur food so well...all the best part to go for..the burnt rice at the bottom is also the tastiest.

Anonymous said...

and the unhealthiest :p lol

I read in the book that cooks sear meat on intensely hot grider NOT to carmelize the meat to seal the juices (because there is no such thing)...but the truth is because our tastebuds actually enjoy eating somewhat burnt food...

Terri @ hungerhunger said...

shop's still there i think.old Asia City, block b4 Mercedes Benz, corner facing Centre Point. caramelize w/o sugar?

DonDon said...

please cook this for me when i come back.Ok?

The Drool Team said...

Sure, hopefully with the paellera this time.