It's the time of year again when famillies gather. After a month of fasting comes the month of feasting. Instead of the usual Malay dishes why not throw together a bountiful paella for your loved ones when they come visiting?
A dish full of delicious love
Sometimes I run out of ideas of what to cook at family gatherings. Although this is hardly a problem. My sisters are more than happy to suggest new things that I can try out. I'm the sort of person though who needs time to get to know a new dish. If I haven't tried it before, I like to spend some time with it in the kitchen figuring out ways to make it good. As one dish meals go- this is fantastic!
Often on lazy afternoons when I don't have orders or errands to run you will find me in the kitchen trying out a new recipe. It relaxes me and it's cooking at its most pleasurable when it's just you, a new recipe and no real urgency to serve it up or impress people.
This paella was suggested by one of my sisters. It has turned out to be a great dish to prepare when you have a few people over. Afterall it's a dish in itself. You can whip up a paella and make a simple dessert and your guests will be happy.
4 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter
6 cloves garlic
2 red peppers
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp oregano
3 cups basmati rice
3 ½ cups chicken stock
1 cup peas
1 cup pitted green olives
A pinch of saffron
15 medium prawns
2 medium squids
Some fresh parsley and basil
Heat up chicken stock. Once it has boiled, add in saffron.
On a low fire in a paella pan/ flat pan, heat oil and cook prawns for 2 minutes to infuse oil. Lift prawns and put aside.
Crush your garlic, dice onions and julienne the peppers and sauté them in oil and garlic until fragrant (about 5 minutes)
Add paprika, cayenne pepper and oregano.
Add rice and coat it with oil and seasonings. Add stock and let it simmer for 20-25 minutes. You may also add the olives now.
When it's halfway cooked add in peas. The rice should start to fluff up and take on a wonderful yellow colour
As it cooks, cover it with a foil so the paella will cook with the steam. Also from time to time just add in a bit of stock to keep the paella moist
When rice is almost cooked, add in squid and mussels
Lightly fluff a fork through rice to check that it doesn’t burn in the middle.
When mussels and squid are cooked, add in prawns, cook for a further 5 minutes.
You will get a wonderful tender dish of rice with the subtle taste of seafood. So please find the freshest seafood. Fresh mussels are hard to come by so you can always substitute it with clams or scallops (make sure you add scallops right at the very end with the prawns so it would not get rubbery).
You can also make a hearty and meaty paella by using chunks of chicken meat or beef or fish. Just make sure the meat pieces are about the same size so that it will take the same time to cook.
Garnish your paella with some fresh herbs like parsley, basil or coriander.
When stirring the rice, do it gently or else the rice will break and turn mushy.
Though saffron is a wonderful herb, use it sparingly or else your paella would be bitter. The best saffron comes from Iran. Keep it in the freezer and it will last for years!