Every time I think of the word "Paella", it brings me back to a particular Seinfeld episode where George's mother, Estelle, gets hysterical over a pot of paella she made, "What am I supposed to do with all this Paella?!" Aside from this, I'd never really be exposed to this popular Spanish rice dish. So last night's cooking class was really a treat as we all whipped up a huge pan of Seafood Paella. This dish always looks so beautiful and artistic when I see it in restaurants, so I was surprised to find out how easy it is to make. Typically, paella is made with seafood but if you're not a fan, you can always do chicken or sausage, which I would love to try soon. But this time our Chef Jan Tang-Sayvongsa wanted to keep the dish tradition and loaded it with tons of fresh shrimp, calamari and clams that were mixed with fun colors and flavors like saffron, garlic and paprika. Delicious!
What you'll need: Serves 6-8
1 large onion finely chopped
5 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 tomato chopped
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1 tsp paprika
big pinch saffron threads (mostly for color)
2 small tenderized steaks of calamari cut in small strips
2 cups medium-grain Spanish paella rice or risotto rice, such as Arborio
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
1 pkg of shrimp deshelled and deveined
1 lb clams thoroughly rinsed
Fry the onion in the oil in a classic 16 in. paella pan until soft, stirring often. Stir in the garlic and before it begins to color, add the tomatoes. Add the salt and pepper (to taste), paprika and saffron. Stir well and cook until the tomatoes are reduced to a jammy sauce and the oil is sizzling. Add the calamari and cook, stirring for a minute or so. Stir in the rice until all are coated.
Bring the stock and wine to a boil in a saucepan. Pour over the rice and bring to a boil. Stir well and spread the rice out evenly in the pan (then don't stir again). Cover with foil and cook the rice over low heat for about 18-20 mins. Rotate the pan around ever 5 mins or so to help the rice cook evenly. Lay the shrimp on top after 10 minutes and turn them when they have become pink on the first side. If the rice is a bit dry or if you hear crackling noises, add more hot stock toward the end. When the rice is done, turn off the heat while you cook the clams.
Steam the clams with a finger of chicken stock in a pan over medium heat. As soon as they open, they are cooked. Throw away any that have not opened. Place on top of the cooked paella and serve!