Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Our First Paella

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No recipe today. Just an exuberant rejoicing that finally, finally, we have managed paella! So please pardon me while I say...yay!!!

We have been wanting to make paella for a long time now. Well, C wanted to. Too many people in my family make paella, and make it well, that I never felt I had to...or perhaps I was always too scared to try for that very same reason. But C loves paella and every time we have some, or pass a paellera in a store, or one of my uncles talks about cooking one; his enthusiasm to make our own grew. It was a foregone conclusion that C would be the skipper in our paella adventure...I always believed that cooking was about passion and C has more passion for paella than I do, truth be told. So for this dish, I was to ride sous.

The road to paella wasn’t a short one. We started preparations through the most obvious route – harvesting the knowledge and collective years of paella-making experience from my mom and uncles. We badgered them with questions, and C stood by and watched while they did their magic. We once rushed from out of town to be extra early for a family lunch, so C could stand in a smoky kitchen taking mental notes while my godfather (whose paella in my humble opinion is one of the tastiest I’ve ever tried) made his paella.

Now, it must be said at this point, that none of my family have a recipe for paella – it’s all by feel. They have their techniques (the secret’s in the stock), their ratios (liquid to rice), their timing (when al dente, stop heat, cover paella, take a shower, it’ll be done when you are), which we somehow patched together to make our own roadmap. Armed with a small/medium paellera we found, that perfectly fits out biggest stove-top burner, we were finally ready.

Like I said, no recipe yet. As this was our first try, nothing is set in stone. And perhaps, as we learned by feel, a rough sketch (continually being tweaked by necessity or mood) is all we will ever have. This is how it went (more or less)...


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We used seafood (which is the flavour we like) and chorizo (to add punch). I bought prawns, squid, fish, and clams. Cooked the clams in garlic, parsley, and wine – saved the liquid from this for the stock. Made a fish stock from some bones I had in the freezer. In the paellera we heated olive oil, cooked chorizo until the nice orange oil was rendered, set chorizo aside. Added chopped garlic, onions, parsley (including stems!) to the pan and sauté until onion is soft. Cooked seafood one by one (squid, prawns, fish) and removed from pan. Added pimenton and some paella spice mix to the onions and fried a bit. Deglazed pan with wine. Added rice and sautéed. Added stock, smoothed surface and let cook...mind that it doesn’t dry out! When it would look too dry but the rice was still raw we added a bit more stock. If it looked to be drying up too fast we would lay some foil across the top. When it was almost done we placed the seafood and chorizo back in the pan and added some roasted red pepper on top...then cooked until it was finally done!

Whew! We couldn’t believe our eyes...it looked and smelled just like paella! And as we sat down to our (late) lunch and had our first mouthful we sighed happily...it tasted like paella too! In fact it was not half bad for a first attempt if you would be so kind as to let me say so :) It did not lack for seafood flavour and the rice was cooked through well (something which I was worried about). My mom stopped by to have lunch with us so we have a witness!

Some little mishaps: If you hadn’t already noticed I used too much rice! The pan was almost in danger of overflowing...lesson learned for next time. Also, my clams were sandy so we couldn’t use all of it and I had to strain the stock a million times through paper towels (sorry Earth!) :(

This was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon – creating something delicious with someone you care about. Enjoying your success with a wonderful meal and lots of high-fives and “go team!”. There are many milestones in a partnership. Different couples will mark different events as important on their conjugal calendar. This paella is definitely one of those for us!

39 comments:

glamah16 said...

It looks and Im sure tastes incredible!

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

What a gorgeous show of paella! I'm drooling over those prawns. . .

canDIshhh said...

Looks great! Coolness!!

I bet there are a lot of tutong! Yummy!! :)

zlamushka said...

Your first paella? No way, you ve been practising for years. I remember my first paella, it was actually pretty tasty, yet the picture was nowhere close to pretty (yours is gorgeous :--)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That Paella looks gorgeous! I love the color contrast... Surely delicious!

Cheers,

Rosa

Peabody said...

It's very pretty...I am loving the shrimp.

Manggy said...

Congratulations! It looks beautiful. Naunahan mo na naman ako :P I bought that same pan at Terry's! I haven't even cleaned it yet! Somehow I'm afraid not to use "paella rice" (subbing arborio) but I can't bring myself to spend P200 for it either. Your triumph has given me some courage-- unfortunately we don't have any passed-down kitchen wisdom paella-wise! I'll rely on yours ;)

Dhanggit said...

wow!! i feel like dancing samba with this paella!! heheh looks really yummy!!!

Katrina said...

Bravo, bravo, Joey and C! I am duly impressed and in awe!

I so enjoyed reading this post, Joey. It's as if I were really there, waiting with bated breath to see how the paella turned out. And I loved how you ended it, too -- as another example of what a beautiful relationship you guys have. :-)

Patricia Scarpin said...

Sweetie, there's no such thing as too much rice - one can never have too much rice! :)

Joey, this looks spectacular!

Meeta said...

I agree with Patricia - rice rocks. Well done on the paella and I went down that road a while back too. But like you I have found the perfect paella recipe for my family through the years. Yours looks great!

Suzana said...

Looks perfect to me! I haven't had paella in a long time - you got me craving for one now! Lovely pictures as usual. :)

oggi said...

I love your paellera and the paella looks delicious!

BTW, I use round coffee filters to strain most liquids and to drain yogurt for labneh.

Marvin said...

It looks fantastic for your first paella! You and C are a great team in the kitchen. What is your pan made of? Is it heavy metal?

ChichaJo said...

Hi Glamah16! Thanks! :)

Hi JS! Thank you! I bought the prawns at our neighbourhood weekend market...there is a seafood stall with all sorts of gorgeous specimens :)

Hi Candishhh! There was! I love the tutong in paella ;)

Hi Zlamushka! Yes! I bought the big prawns specifically for “insurance” to make it look swanky just in case, heehee :)

Hi Rosa! Thank you :)

Thanks Peabody! I am always so tempted with the prawns and shrimps at the market...this time I indulged myself :)

Hi Manggy! Oh my gosh...hahaha! Before making this the pan was still in the Terry’s bag! Let me tell you, I just used the rice that we regularly use for everyday...my mom never really bought special rice for paella so I didn’t either ;) I’m sure you will make a fantastic paella...easier than risotto...no stirring!

Hi Dhanggit! Dancing always helps my cooking so go ahead! :)

Hi Katrina! Aw! Thanks :) It was really fun...exciting and at the same time suspenseful! We were nervous how it would turn out! And it was so nice to see C so nasasarapan from something he made himself :)

Hi Patricia! I had to laugh out loud when I saw your comment because our eating cultures must have something in common...I can so imagine someone from here saying that in all seriousness!

Hi Meeta! Rice most definitely rocks! I grew up with it as a staple and I’m a big fan :) We still have a ways to go with our paella...more experimenting, different combinations...I’m looking forward to it!

Hi Suzana! Thank you :) We hadn’t either when we made this so the time was right!

Hi Oggi! Thanks for the tip! I actually have a box of coffee filters lying around doing nothing because my coffee maker has its own filter...must remember that...for the labneh too...

Thanks Marvin! You have no idea how I am itching to make a heavy metal vs hip hop joke...but I will desist :) The pan is a standard issue paellera that I got from a local Spanish deli...not that heavy but pretty sturdy. My mom has even used a wok/kawali before (although this makes it harder to cook evenly)! I’ve heard they sometimes use a clay dish to make it too...

The Knittymommy said...

Congratulations! I love that it was a husband and wife effort to create the dish. This makes it more special and I believe, even more delicious. Great milestone to have.

JMom said...

congratulations on your first paella! it looks delicious and I bet it tasted great too :)

I bought a paella pan, that's as far as I've gotten to making true blue paella.

Haley said...

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Erin said...

All of my recipes start out by feel, it really makes writing them down a pain.
The paella looks fabulous.

Kevin said...

That looks good. I have been wanting to try paella for an while.

lobstersquad said...

way to go! congratulations, I can´t make paella to save my life, you must be so proud

Miguel said...

Looks good. What type of rice did you use? I use Basmati rice to make my paella.

Helen said...

Seafood and chorizo are exactly the flavours I love in paella too. It looks stunning.

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whit. ing. said...

Oh good heavens, that paella looks ridiculous. The shrimp is bringing a tear to me eye right now. Nice work!

Barbara said...

Fantastic Joey. I love paella but haven't made it since moving to Australia as my stove here is an electric top. But I've decided to use my gas camping stove to make it.

ChichaJo said...

Hi KM! Thanks! I believe that makes it more delicious too :)

Hi Jmom! Trust me, the paella pan was sitting pretty in the kitchen for a while before we deemed ourselves prepared enough to use it!

Hi Haley! Will check it out :) Although, we are not much of a berry-producing country over here so stocks are minimal or overpriced...yoiks! But will definitely check out those winners :)

Hi Erin! I know what you mean...but I know I’ve got to have notes to act as a framework if I want to repeat the dish...so I buy myself pretty notebooks and pens to encourage me :)

Hi Kevin! Go for it! :)

Thanks Ximena! We were! It was hilarious :)

Hi Guel! We just used the rice we use for everyday, haha...it’s labelled as “organic rice from Thailand” and we get it from Market! Market! I love it because it smells incredible when you’re cooking it, it’s got a nice grain, and it’s not too dry/not too wet :)

Hi Helen! It’s a great combination isn’t it? :)

Hi Sohpie...I’ve seen Key Ingredient already and am in the process of uploading a recipe :)

Hi Whit.ing! Haha! Thank you :)

Hi Barbara! Thanks :) Good luck with the gas camping stove! Wish I could make this outdoors!

mtan said...

What a beauty, wouldn't have noticed the overflowing rice if you hadn't mentioned it. But as Candishhh said earlier, the tutong must have been super yummy. Remember that paella at Claudes? Sigh.

Sandy said...

congrats on the success of your first paella! your tip on the rice is a big help :)

what is in your paella spice mix and is there any particular brand that you like to use?

many thanks in advance joey!

Jen Tan said...

wow!!! you're paella looks great! I bet you and C had an absolutely great time making it as well as eating afterwards =) it's really great to cook with a loved one...let's eat to that!

Veron said...

Congrats Joey, it looks fantastic. I can just imagine how it tastes with all the fresh seafood not to mention the wonderful chorizo you get over there.

ChichaJo said...

Hi M! Yes I remember it...mmm! :) Wasn’t that the Pampangueno verison of paella? The tutong on this gal was delicious :)

Hi Sandy! Thanks! Tha Paella spice mix is Carmencita El Unico Paellero (this was from Spain but I think I've seen it here in Terrys)...I can’t say though if this is the brand I’d use always as it’s the first time we tried it :) Although it did us good on this paella :)

Hi Jen! Yes, we did have as great a time making it as we did eating it :) I’ll eat to that too!

Hi Veron! Thanks! The fresh seafood does make a difference...as well as the chorizo ;)

findcookingblogs.com said...

Paella always goog whit a spanish wine.

Aran said...

Being from Spain I am very particular about paella and look at yours! Looks perfection... and the prawns? Goddness, I want some!

Tartelette said...

Those prawns are just spectacular! I love paella...love it with a burning passion and yours look fantastic!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Aran! Ooh! I am thrilled by your lovely comment! My husband will be thrilled as well :)

Hi Helene! Nice to know you love this dish :) These were jumbo prawns I bought at my neighbourhood weekend market...quite the lookers I thought as well ;)

Rasa Malaysia said...

Ooh, I have missed too many good food on your site while I was traveling. You nailed that Paella! I had the best ones in Madrid not too long ago when I was there-two of them--one is this orange color ones and the other squid ink! Yum.

Salt & Turmeric said...

Hi, came here fr Rasa Malaysia. i love paella too! i 'made' it last mth. 'made' because i cheated with a store bought box. yours look good. the right color with lotsa seafood. i want some too!

farina

ChichaJo said...

Hi Bee! Thanks! Yes, the paellas in Madrid are really amazing! We may not be ready to attempt the squid ink one for a while yet...still have to practice! :)

Hi Farina! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment :) We also used a sachet spice mix but added our own stuff as well to put a personal stamp...semi-cheats ;)