Paella My Way
I tried to cook my own version of Paella a couple of days ago and it worked out well (according to the tasters, who were relatives, so they may have been trying to be extra nice). I call this “Paella My Way” because I tried a bunch of variations that are not in regular Paella recipes. I also rarely follow recipes to the tee because most of my cooking exploits sprout out of the blue (due to boredom and watching food shows on tv) and I rarely have all the ingredients needed for the recipe; so I improvise most of the time and tailor the recipe to what I have (I believe improvisation is part of the fun of cooking anyways).
The reason I am documenting this here is because some of my friends (you know who you are!) wanted to see how I cooked Paella so they can also make their own version. Another reason for my documentation is so that I’ll be able to remember what I did in case I wanted to make this again lol. I don’t like writing recipes down because I just tend to lose them so I guess this was the next best thing.
So here is a smattering of pictures that outlined what I had done to make my variation of Paella.
1. Bell pepper preparation - I first cleaned and sliced the peppers since I thought that would be the easiest first step and the least messy of the ingredients to prepare
2. Chicken Preparation - I used a blend of smoked paprika, salt, and garlic powder and rubbed it into some cut up chicken chicken thigh pieces (dark meat all the way!) and let it sit for about 15 minutes to let the chicken absorb some of the flavours.
3. Sautéeing the chicken - I then sautéed the chicken pieces in some olive oil until they were thoroughly cooked and browned. I then set them aside.
4. Shrimp preparation - I had bought shrimp with the heads still on so I separated the heads from the body. The heads will be used to make some stock to flavour the rice while the bodies will be used to mix in with the rice. I did not bother peeling the shrimp because I was lazy and it would take me ages to peel all that shrimp; the shrimp peel will add flavour as it cooks with the rice anyways.
5. Sauté the shrimp bodies in the leftover oil from the chicken until they are cooked and pink, set aside.
6. Sauté the squid rings until cooked and set aside; I had bought frozen squid rings, so minimal preparation necessary (just thawing and rinsing)
7. Preparing the shrimp stock - Sauté the shrimp heads along with a couple pieces of ginger root and a bit of garlic powder until pink and cooked. I then added a couple cups of water (about 8 cups) and boiled it for a good 30 minuted to get all the flavour out (add salt and pepper to taste). I like to use ginger in making stocks because it gives the stock a bit of spicy flavour and it also gives it a nice aroma.
Most Paella recipes usually call for a Spanish sausage called chorizo; however, I did not know where to buy/acquire chorizo so I just opted for another type of sausage, which was “臘腸” or chinese sausage. I figured it would be somewhat similar since its basically a pork sausage with fat; I just added a bunch of paprika afterwards to offset the lack of paprika of the chinese sausage.
Ingredients list picture (well, most of the stuff that I had used anyways). Starting from the top left corner going clockwise: 2 onions (diced) with 5 cloves of garlic (minced), 5 cups of arborio rice, sliced chinese sausage, sliced bell peppers, 1 can of tomato paste, a couple of sliced tomatoes ( I had used plum tomatoes), sautéed paprika chicken, more paprika, sautéed shrimp, frozen peas, and sautéed squid.
And of course, last but not least, the saffron (there must have been about $8 worth of saffron in that tiny bowl).
8. Saute the chinese sausage in a tiny amount of oil to render out the fat. Once the fat has been rendered, add the onion, garlic, paprika and tomatoes, cook until vegetables are tender.
I had used a dutch oven to cook the Paella instead of a Paella pan because I did not have a Paella pan and I even if I did, I would not have a burner that would be big enough to cook with that pan. I figured a dutch oven would be a great substitute since I can finish off the Paella in the oven.
9. Once the vegetables are tender, add the tomato paste and keep sautéeing.
10. After the addition of the tomato paste, the rice can be added and mixed throughly with the other ingredients. Add a bit more oil to thoroughly coat all the grains of rice with oil and keep sautéeing for about 10 minutes.
11. While the rice is sautéing, place the saffron in the shrimp stock and let it soak for a couple of minutes in order for the flavour and colour to come out; then add the saffron-tinged stock to the rice mixture (should have about 6-7 cups of stock for 5 cups of rice).
12. Add half of the bell peppers into the rice mixture, along with the chicken and squid. Let the mixture come to a simmer, cover the pot and place in a 400 degree F oven for about 30 minutes.
13. After 30 minutes, take the pot out of the oven (the rice should be cooked) and place the remaining bell peppers, frozen green peas, and shrimp on top; cover the pot and place back in the oven for about 10-15 minutes.
14. Once the bell peppers, frozen green peas and shrimp have heated through, take the pot out of then oven and scatter lemon wedges on top.
15. Enjoy your big pot of Paella!
Digby on Flickr.
I was rummaging through my room and saw my macro lens and realized that I haven’t used it in a while so I tried to take macros of fish in the aquarium, which I haven’t done in a while too. This is Digby, he likes to dig around the gravel in the tank, hence the name. He is the last surviving fish in the tank ever since the last nasty bout of fungus which killed 3 of his companions.
I haven’t posted any of his pictures in the past because I couldn’t get a good picture of him. Its so hard to take good pictures of black fish! This was him as he was just rising up from the gravel floor of the aquarium.
Stars on Flickr.
I set out to the backyard again to test the Canon FD 35mm f/2.0 lens and I happened to pass by the hydrangea bush again. I love how you can get very close to things when its mounted on a m4/3 body, I don’t actually know exactly how close but its very close. I must say that I like how it renders out of focus areas.
I had a bit of trouble trying to take this photo because:
1. It was quite windy the day I took this picture and it made the dried flower head sway all over the place and I got tons of out of focus shots!
2. I was holding the flower stalk with one hand and the camera with another hand…. how did I focus using a manual focus lens you ask? Well, I set the camera to the closest focusing distance and swayed back and forth until I got the stalk in focus.
3. The E-P3 body and 35mm FD lens I used equaled to about 700g in weight, which is not very conducive for taking sharp close up photos when held with 1 hand.
Thinking back, I should have tried to do something about 2 and 3…. lol.