Hello, lovelies. It's summer here and my thoughts are drifting towards vacation, the sea, and good food. About this time last year, we were travelling the lovely island of Mallorca where we first came face to face with a dish that has captured my mind ever since - the paella.
Now, bear in mind, I have never ever tasted paella before. But back then, in that small coastal town, in a rare Spanish restaurant, we were faced with one of the best dishes, like ever. I say rare Spanish restaurant, because – if you’ve been to Mallorca before – you’ll know that the island is practically German, and finding this little authentic gem amongst the tourist restaurants was a revelation.
We ordered the mixed paella and some red wine and when the food came, we couldn’t focus on anything else for like 10 minutes. It was just us, and that delicious paella.
And ever since we’ve returned home, I’ve been dreaming about it.
Now, at the time, I did not own a paella pan and by pure coincidence, I learnt that I need to use a special rice and – god forbid – must not cook it like I would a risotto. And that was probably the hardest part, to just let the rice cook without ever stirring it.
The secret to a good paella, besides excellent ingredients, cooking technique and experience (none of which I have) is to achieve a slightly crispy – but not burnt – bottom.
So, the first time I tried making paella, I used short-grained rice, a sad regular pan and was extra careful about the cooking. And almost nailed it. The flavour was ok, my rice could have been more yellow, and the bottom was a delicious crisp. But, alas, beginner’s luck. The second time I almost burned the shit out of it. I have not yet attempted a third try.
I tried making the mixed paella with some langoustines and chicken, and funny enough, we learnt that Mitja just might have a slight problem with crustaceans. So mixed paella no more? We shall see.
Also, I learnt that finding ingredients where I live is a pain. I could only find frozen langoustines in one grocery store, no mussels, no scallops. Luckily, I later (for my second attempt) found a fishmonger a few kilometres away.
Care to give it a try? Here’s my recipe: