2017: The Year of Paella

A nanay’s staple for every occasion, Arroz Valenciana is something that I grew up eating that I couldn’t imagine going to a Filipino fiesta without this on the table. And you know how Filipino fiestas are! You visit different houses and stuff your mouth with whatever they have on their table. That’s at least 3 types of the same dish in a day! So it wouldn’t be a surprise that I’d end up having a similar dish as a Sunday special.

The Filipino Arroz Valenciana uses glutinous rice (sticky rice) and in it you’ll find a fiesta of ingredients including chicken, chorizo (sometimes hotdogs), shrimp, pork liver, raisins and literally anything that your mom feels like adding to it. One time, my nanay added marshmallows and gummy bears. lol kidding!

Now it’s my time to cook and decided I should start with the basics – Paella. While going by the book might break the bank (saffron doesn’t come cheap), it’s a relatively easy dish to cook. Also, I eventually stopped adding saffron and couldn’t quite tell the difference. What I love about cooking this dish is that I don’t have much to clean after cooking because much of the action is happening in the paella pan. Most Sundays I use a 34cm pan which I got from Lazada for a decent price. 4 people can have a generous serving of the dish with this pan. When I’m alone I use a 24cm pan.

I’m quite flexible with the recipe and I just throw in whatever is available in the fridge but here are my must haves in the same order that I add them to the pan:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Tomato & Onion
  • Garlic, Salt & Pepper
  • Rice (I use Japanese rice, but if you can find Bomba go for it)
  • Paprika
  • Basil, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (and you sing while you add these to the pan)
  • Stock

For the stock, i use Knorr cubes for pork and chicken. For seafood paella, boil water, add your mussels to it and the shrimp peelings.

Now here’s how I cook it:

  1. Cook the meat! Extra olive virgin oil in the pan and fry that pork and chicken. Set aside when done.
  2. Add your finely chopped tomato and onion. For the big pan, I use 2 tomatoes and 1 onion (you can add peas too!)
  3. Add your garlic, salt and pepper.
  4. Then rice (washed but uncooked okay) and coat it with the spices. Usually just a cup to a cup and a fourth for the 34cm pan.
  5. Then your paprika (around a tablespoon). I mix it for around 2 minutes just to make sure my grain is fully coated.
  6. Sing while adding basil (not parsley but sure you can add this too), sage, rosemary and thyme. I only have rosemary and sage for my first few but the others equally smell good.
  7. Add the boiling stock
  8. Add back the meat or your seafood and just make sure that you evenly spread the meat and rice in the pan. Cover and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes.* Serve with lemon. TAD-AAA!

*If you’re using pork, you might want the paella to have that nice socarrat (toasted rice at the bottom). Especially if you’re meat is fatty, soccarat tastes actually good! So simply turn the fire to high for like 15 seconds before finally removing your pan from the stove. It’s not healthy, but who cares it’s yummy.

Now that I can pretty much cook it without looking at the recipe book, I can start being creative with the dish and definitely, more paella for 2017!

So below are some paella dishes that I was able to take a photo of:

8
For Christmas, just a simple pork paella. I added chopped  black olives just to get a richer smell.
7
This i cooked in a non-stick pan. Very simple but that’s when you really appreciate how well your spices blend.
6
Seafood paella

20160821_122456.jpg

5
Literally just added whatever I could find in the fridge so I’m having  a chicken, bacon and broccoli paella

4

3
My first attempt to making paella negra didn’t go quite right. Turns out I needed more squid ink. I never add artificial coloring so I just added paprika again.
2
For this one I completely forgot to add the shrimp right after adding my stock. So you have a paella topped with shrimp

 

 

 

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