Feeds 6 people
18-24 raw, head-on, shell-on tiger prawns, size depends on you.
1kg frozen, blanched squid rings (or 700g fresh, raw squid cut into rings)
12 fresh mussels
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
400g plum tomatoes, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely grated
2.5 litres fish stock (either home-made, or a decent brand)
1 kg paella rice (must be paella rice, no substitutes)
100ml sunflower oil
200g garden peas
10 strands saffron
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
30cm paella pan
fat skimmer (round and flat skimmer)
Making the sofrito
Put the pan on a medium heat, and add 50ml of oil. Heat it up, then add the prawns, cooking them until they're pink on both sides.
Remove the prawns with the fat skimmer, letting the juices and oil stay in the pan (this will give a beautiful flavour to your sofrito).
Keep them aside for later.
Next add the other 50ml of oil, bring to heat and add the onion and red pepper. Cook until soft on medium-low heat, around 10-15 min.
Then add the tomato, and cook for a further 5 min. If you can, take the whole lot out and put it in a food processor and blend into a puree.
Put it back into the pan, then create a "hole" in the sofrito about 15cm wide in the middle of the pan, by pushing the sofrito out to the edges of the pan.
Add the garlic, and fry in the middle until slightly coloured. Add the paprika, and stir it in to the garlic, until it's all mixed in and the garlic is a beautiful reddish colour.
Mix in with the sofrito.
On a separate ring, heat the fish stock up, putting the mussels, clams and saffron in it as well. Bring to the boil, and keep an eye on the mussels and clams.
Fish them out (sorry for the pun) when they open up, and keep aside.
Add the squid rings to the pan, and cook for a further 5 min. Then add the fish stock, and turn the heat up to high. Once the stock has come to the boil,
add the rice in a cross of even height in the pan. The rice should just about break the surface of the stock; if it's too high above the level of stock then
add a bit more hot water to level it. Spread the rice out as evenly as possible in the pan; don't panic too much about it just now, as you can keep moving it
around in a few minutes when the rice has absorbed some of the stock and is easier to move.
Keep the flame on high for 8-10 minutes, every few minutes moving rice where necessary to even out the distribution in the pan.
Once the rice starts showing through the surface of the stock, turn the heat down to medium-low.
At this point, put the mussels and clams and prawns, on top of the rice and sprinkle the peas over the top. Cook for a further 8 minutes,
keeping an eye on the rice; it shouldn't be too hard or too soft (this, unfortunately, is the trick that comes with experience).
If the rice still looks too hard, sprinkle some more hot water over the top of the rice, evenly. If it starts looking like it's completely
cooked while there's still a bunch of liquid in the pan, then crank the heat up to medium-high to evaporate some of the liquid.
Once most of the liquid has been absorbed (after 15-20 minutes), turn the heat right down to low and leave for a few minutes.
This is to crisp the rice at the bottom of the pan. Part the rice gently with the skimmer to test the bottom, to make sure it doesn't catch and burn.
Turn off the heat, and cover the pan with newspaper, and leave for 5 minutes to rest (literally; in Spanish they say "reposar", which means to chill out)
Garnish with the lemons, cut into wedges, which you then squeeze on to the rice. It's best to put the pan in the middle of the table, then dig into it with forks straight from the pan, taking extra care to scratch the rice from the bottom of the pan (this is the soccaraet, the best part). Enjoy with some great white wine.