Recipe: how to make the authentic Spanish paella from King West’s Patria
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
COOK TIME: 1 hour 40 minutes
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
½ white onion, finely diced
1 small garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 generous pinch salt
1 red pepper, finely diced
1 ripe tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
2-3 generous pinches kosher salt and pepper
6 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
6 oz monkfish, cut into 3 pieces
2 large langoustines, cut in half lengthwise
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cleaned squid, cut into 6 pieces
1 large garlic clove, finely sliced
3 bay leaves
1 cup bomba rice
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 small pinches saffron, crumbled
½ cup dry white wine
850 mL fish stock
12 fresh mussels, scrubbed
1 small handful snap peas, blanched and torn in half lengthwise
1. To prepare sofrito, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-low. Add onion, garlic, bay leaf and salt. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until onion is soft and translucent. Add red pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes until soft. Add tomato and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour until mixture is as thick as jam. Stir occasionally.
2. Season seafood (except squid and mussels) with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a paella pan over medium-high. When oil is shimmering, add shrimp and monkfish. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute until shrimp is pink and fish is lightly browned on one side. Transfer to a plate. Add langoustines and squid to pan. Cook for 1 minute until partially cooked. Add to plate along with shrimp and fish and set aside until ready to use. Remove pan from heat. Let cool slightly.
3. Set pan over medium heat. Add garlic, then ¼ cup sofrito and bay leaves. Cook for 2 minutes. Add rice to pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add paprika and saffron. Cook, stirring occasionally, until rice sizzles. Deglaze pan with wine. Pour in fish stock. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add mussels. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until they open. Set mussels aside until ready to use. Discard any mussels that do not open.
4. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes until rice is almost tender. Place seafood, uncooked sides down, over rice. Increase heat to medium-high. Cook for about 5 minutes until seafood is cooked through and a crust forms on bottom of pan. Turn off heat. Scatter blanched snap peas and parsley overtop. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Sofrito, a Spanish blend that can also form a base for soups and stews, will keep for two to three days in the fridge, or up to a month in the freezer.
For a dish that’s essentially just a big bowl of rice and fish, paella is incredibly finicky. Stuart Cameron, the chef at King West’s opulent tapas bar, has nailed the process. First, he makes the sofrito, a base of onions, peppers, tomatoes and lots of garlic, cooking the mixture down until it’s as thick and densely flavoured as jam. (Cameron makes 50 litres of the stuff every week.) Then he adds an ocean’s worth of seafood, using whatever catches are freshest from the market. The final step—and the key to any good paella—is the socarrat, a crunchy rice crust that caramelizes as the paella cooks. It comes with extreme patience and willpower not to over-stir the rice, tempting though it might be.