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Paella Party

Thursday 19th November 2015

It’s getting to that time of year where the days blend into night and entertaining friends at home seems like the best idea ever (because it is).

When it comes to selecting menus for these occasions, I like to refer to crowd-pleaser dishes from cuisines where evening eating is a cultural imperative – like the Spaniards.

Paella is a Spanish one-pot wonder. You start with some onions and rice and end up with a meal fit for a conquistador in way less time that you’d expect.

Mind you, I like to micromanage my paella and par-cook the seafood before whacking it on top of the whole situation in a separate pan – but you don’t particularly have to if you feel like trusting the residual heat factor (I don’t).

In my experience, and this really goes without saying since we’re already shopping at the market, the quality of the ingredients will dictate the end result – in this case, the rice and seafood especially. Ask your fishmonger what delights came in that morning or what they’d put in their own paella of dreams.

2-Pot Paella

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp smoked paprika
400g chopped tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
Pinch of saffron soaked in hot water
500g Calasparra rice
300g broad beans, shelled and blanched
200g frozen peas
500g clams or mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
8 raw, shelled tiger prawns
500ml of crab or fish stock
300g blue eye, cut into chunks
300g baby squid, cut into rings
Flat-leaf parsley to garnish
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Method:

  1. Sweat the onion and garlic in olive oil in the paella pan until transluscent
  2. Heat a separate pan, and sear the prawns, fish and calamari until golden. Reserve.
  3. Use the same pan to steam the mussels/clams until they just open. Reserve.
  4. Add the rice to the paella pan and toast until transluscent (about 4-5 minutes).
  5. Pour in the white wine and simmer until you can’t smell the alcohol (a couple of minutes).
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes, paprika and the stock and simmer for about 30 minutes (or until the liquid has evaporated and the rice has cooked through). If you feel like the rice could use a bit more time, add a bit more stock or water. Season to taste (better to underseason though -the seafood
  7. Toss through the peas, broadbeans and then arrange the seafood on top. Continue cooking the rice underneath until a golden crust forms.
  8. Sprinkle with parsley, more paprika and slices of lemon to serve.
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