When someone mentions Spanish cuisine, most likely Paella comes to mind. A lot of non-Spaniards regard it as Spain’s national dish when in fact, most Spaniards view it as a regional Valencia dish. Mainly there are three types of paella: Valencian paella ( paella valenciana), seafood paella ( paella de marisco) and mixed paella ( paella mixta), but there are literally hundreds of recipes and each cook has their own favorite one. I think we could say that the mixed paella is the most popular and what comes to mind among non-Spaniards and served mostly in Spanish-themed restaurants.
Paella is very versatile. It is one of the things I like about the dish. You can substitute hard to find ingredients with more readily available ones. Having said that, I try hard to stick with what’s on the list of ingredients, at least the main ones which give the distinctive flavor of a particular paella recipe. One thing I am particular with when cooking paella is having the right pan, the paellera. It is traditionally round, shallow and made of polished steel with two handles. I know this may sound shallow but when I bought my paellera, I made sure it was made in Spain. It gives me the satisfaction knowing I have something authentic, paella-cooking wise. 🙂
Another essential item I am particular with when I cook paella would be the rice I use. Of course you may use arborio rice if the short-grain Spanish bomba rice is not available. But I would go out of my way finding bomba rice first. It expands in width, not it length and able to absorb three times its volume in liquid, thus making it the best rice to use when making paella. Another good thing about bomba rice is when cooked, the grains do not stick together and remain separate. It is a bit more pricey than the other types of rice but I really think it is worth it.
Since I have tried enough mixed paella, I thought I would try something different so I searched and found this recipe from a Spanish recipe website. The original recipe is for 8 people but since I have a small paellera ( 30cm) and there are only three of us, I adjusted the quantity of ingredients. I opted to try the paella with clams, serrano ham and chorizo sausages. Again, try your best to get the best Spanish chorizo and Serrano ham available. They are a bit more pricey but I promise you, it will be worth it. In one of the local deli shops where I got the Serrano ham from, it sells for $99.00/kilogram. It sounds a lot I know but it will be worth every cent you paid the ham for.
So, let’s start cooking. For 4 serves, you will need the following :
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 200g Spanish chorizo sausage, crumbled and with casing removed
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup rice
- 1 medium red/green capsicum (pepper), cut into strips
- 2-3 small tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped (see tip on how to do this at the end of cooking method)
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1/4 tsp saffron powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- One 14oz can clams, drained (or fresh clams about 200g)
- 200g serrano ham, cut into thin strips
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tbs chopped parsley
- lemon wedges, to serve
How to peel tomatoes: