I haven’t made paella for months.
Why? Oh, I can’t say it was my life of changes outside the kitchen, that wouldn’t be fair. I admit to lots of interests in other cuisines besides Espana’s own, such as baking or French or you-name-it, Fred. It’s just,,,well, I kinda got paella-making down, you know, and it wasn’t as great a challenge to me. Frankly, making paella now was as difficult as making an omelet–like with eggs, it all depended on what was in the fridge on any given morning.
Paella could…and perhaps should be like that. Omelets in most homes may be dependent on ingredients; so too paella. Of course, the rules have changed a lot since paella left its mark on its myriad colonies–Filipino paella or Cuban are two very different animals, but the essentials of rice, onions, garlic and whatever protein available remained fairly constant. Don’t get me started on whether it should be cooked in prepared broth or just water as the peasants did waay back in the day. Haven’t gotten around to adding tofu yet.
No, my arbiter, so long as I remain fairly true to tradition and the essence of paella will be taste. I’ll admit to being a tad nervous, but I’ve been tasting the paella as it cooks after the initial sautéing and stirring ended and so far, am well pleased. Always a bit of a beeyatch are those stray kernels of partially cooked rice on the surface of the dish–hard to avoid those, but while I let this dish rest in…about three minutes, I’ll give it a cover for a few minutes to allow the top to steam a bit. I’ve never yet put my paella in the oven to finish, which is optional according to culinary canon, but why start now?
The paella is resting now, its myriad flavors coalescing into that odd gestalt of a combination that says paella to its adherents. For funsies I did try something a little different with this version, simply to push the fishy envelope a bit and tip my hat to Filipino cuisine. We will see if the wife notices* though it will be subtle if not possibly even unnoticeable, but it should please her nonetheless.
Here we have the initial stage after sautéing the veggies and chorizo, and just after adding the steaming broth.
A few minutes later, the rice (Valenciana from Spain) is starting to absorb the broth and the flavors of the ingredients
And slightly further along, beginning to look near-finished and…
Finally the peas are added at the end, and the heat is turned off and I often will cover the top with foil during the resting phase.
Presentation along with Sweetydrop peppers from Peru and a mix of marinated garlic, olives, cornichons, and a Spanish cheese, drizzled with olive oil and vinegar
The paella is no longer resting, but we are. Enough left for lunch at work tomorrow, don’t you think?
If you’re looking for a basic paella recipe and have the cojones to approach it without someone telling you every last detail, here is a good recipe to start with. Eventually, paella will prove as easy as cooking eggs.
If you have problems with cooking eggs…uh…never mind.
*instead of salt I added a tablespoon of Patis (Filipino fish sauce)