Despite the amount of cooking that we do in the MM household, we fall into rather predictable patterns, and rely on tried and true favorites. If we decide to have a paella, it is almost always a mixed meat and seafood paella that is strongly flavored and packed with chicken, pork, chorizo, shrimp, crabs, mussels, etc. Alternatively, we do an arroz negro or a black paella with seafood and squid ink. Today, I decided to try a lighter seafood paella made with a fish stock rather than chicken stock, but couldn’t resist and added some chorizo as well.
At 10 am this morning, I checked the pantry and found a kilo of paella rice which was purchased from Gourdo’s, then a quick check of the freezer yielded just a half cup of our standard soffrito, not enough for a large pan of paella. No matter, we would improvise. We jumped into the car, headed to the Seaside market in Baclaran, and I managed to purchase 1/2 kilo of medium sized shrimp, 1/2 kilo of tiny clams, 1/2 kilo of diwal (angel wing clams), 1/2 kilo of sliced tanguigue (spanish mackerel), 1.5 kilos of alimango (mud crabs), and 1/2 kilo of pusit (squid). Total cost was roughly PHP1,000 and half of that was the cost of the crabs. Oh, I also bought 1/2 kilo of bisugo or bream to make a fresh fish stock.
Back home by 11 am, we cleaned and cut the bisugo and added it to a stockpot with water, celery, onions, peppercorns, bay leaves and leeks and let that boil for about 20 minutes to make a simple fresh fish stock. Strain and set aside some 11 cups or so of broth. We took out our largest paella pan, put it on a weber grill with raging coals, and added lots of olive oil, some minced oven roasted garlic, half an onion, diced, and three sliced chorizos bilbao. We added some paprika, some sliced sweet bell peppers (yellow, orange and red) and sauteed all of this for a minute or two before adding a kilo of paella rice. Actually, 800 grams would have been sufficient, but what do you do with the 200 grams leftover, so I dumped it all in. Next, I added the half cup of soffrito we had in stock, a tablespoon of tomato paste, then the broth. Add two generous pinches of good saffron, salt and stir until the ingredients are spread relatively evenly on the bottom of the pan. Next place the crabs, fish, shrimp, squid and clams and add a little more salt to taste and some freshly cracked black pepper. Cover the weber and cook for a total of 20 minutes more or less, checking every so often to make sure it is doing okay. The result? A lighter version of our meat and seafood paella. Because of the fish stock, the total effect was not as heavy, though the rice remained well flavored. The paella rice was noticeably better than using arborio (we use arborio when we can’t find real paella rice). The seafood gave off a lot more liquid, so this started out a little soupier than our normal paella, but after sitting under newspaper for 5 minutes or so, the extra liquid was quickly absorbed by the rice. Squeeze a generous slice of lemon and eat heartily. Excellent. :) Oh, total cost was roughly PHP1,700, but this easily fed 10-11 hungry folks. That comes out to just PHP154 per person, not bad for such a seafood laden dish, no?