Something wonderful happened this summer. Even though we didn’t do any travelling we managed to experience a bit of Spain.
That bit was in the form of a very fun and lovely lady named Lena who came to visit us from Torrevieja.
The really cool thing is Lena is a distant cousin and this was the first time meeting. We share a great grandfather going back 5 generations. We met up through a mutual cousin on a genealogy page on social media.
We had the pleasure of her staying with us for a few days in June. She seen the best of Nova Scotia and made an extended family after meeting several of her cousins.
She is a fire cracker and one of the most authentic people I have met. No pretenses. No holding back. How fortunate she is this way, as it allowed me to get to know her despite our short time together.
During her stay she made us this beautiful Paella, which she explained translates to “for her”. Paella is a traditional fishermen’s dish. It was made with the part of the catch the fisherman would set aside for his wife.
She stuffed ours full of lovely seafood. If you want, you can also add sausage, such as chorizo. There are variations to this dish depending on the region, so use what you like or have available.
** You cook paella in a special paella pan. They are large and shallow. I didn’t have one. I had to use a large wok. You can try it in a large pot if that is all you have**.
This is adapted from Lena’s recipe. It makes a lot! It fed our dinner party, so enough for 8-10 servings.
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
200 grams prawns (completely peeled or peeled with tail on)
200 grams fish (it should be a firm fish. We used haddock)
1 lbs mussels
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp salt
2 minced garlic cloves
Pinch saffron threads
½ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (or double if you like more heat)
½ tsp each dried oregano and rosemary
4 cups rice (round grain) Arborio or Bomba
8 cups chicken or fish stock
½ cup white wine
A little oil
Heat the oil in a paella pan until hot. Add the peppers, pinch of salt. Cook for a few minutes until softened a bit
Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes. Add the garlic, saffron and spices. Saute for a minute, mixing the tomatoes, peppers, and spices well.
Add the wine and stock. Bring to a boil. Add fish, stir, and cook briefly (about 2 minutes) before adding rice.
Turn down heat just to simmer.
As paella simmers for the first 10 minutes, always make sure the liquid is level to the rice, adding water if needed. In the first 10 minutes, stir a couple of times, and then leave it alone! (Lena told me this was important as my instinct was to stir often to avoid burning). Paella will dry and burn slightly on bottom and this is okay…infact, they like to nosh on that part in Spain.
Simmer until rice has absorbed the water and rice is al-dente on top.
Give a gentle stir. Take off heat , cover immediately and let sit for 15-20 minutes. It will continue to cook gently if left undisturbed.
Wedge a lemon and serve along side .
Lena suggests having this with sangria…which she also made!