Paella is a dish that never fails to look impressive and it makes a great centerpiece for entertaining and ideal for communal family meals. Put the pan in the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves. It’s a dish that can be made to suit all tastes and is easily adapted to suit all dietary requirements.
The Spanish take their paella very seriously.
Of course the Spanish might disagree with me on that one as this national dish is not one to be played with. As you would expect there are many traditions surrounding the dish but again that all depends much depends on where you eat or indeed who you talk to about the authentic way to cook. Fish and Shellfish, Chicken, rabbit or pork, it’s all up for serious debate.
One thing everyone agrees on is that good rice is essential and I use arborio rice and normally opt for a seafood paella, possibly as a result of many holidays on the Spanish coast and islands. I’m always drawn to the enormous pans of paella being cooked at markets and festivals, although it’s normally the intoxicating aromas that gets my attention first. Of course there’s also much lore over where and how it should be cooked, outdoors, indoors, open fire or on the hob.
The Paella Pan
Another essential according to traditional paella rules is a wide pan with a thin base, something I’ve never really had much success with. Over the years I’ve tried several pans and I recently reviewed the paella pan from the Stellar cookware James Martin ‘Lamina’ range and I was extremely pleased with the results. This is the recipe I used to test the pan and it’s the same basic recipe I’ve used since the early eighties. It has been tweaked over the years and it’s easy to adapt to suit whatever ingredients you have to hand. Paella is a great storecupboard standby meal and I’ll often use whatever meat, seafood or vegetables I have available. This recipe is for seafood but I’ve also used chicken thighs and legs in the past.
I have three excellent suppliers of fish and seafood and regular deliveries mean there’s usually a good selection of fish and shellfish in the freezer.
With the current sunny weather this is an ideal dish to cook and eat al fresco with some nice chilled wine and a big pan of paella.
My favourite suppliers
The scampi tails used in this recipe come from Scottish fisherman Jimmy Buchan. Jimmy is the skipper of the MFV Amity II that sails out of Peterhead, north of Aberdeen and his company Skipper Choice sells a fantastic selection of seafood.The freshest of sustainable fish and top quality shellfish delivered to your door.
I also buy a box of fresh fish on a fortnightly basis direct from Magnus and Fiona at Fishbox UK. Based in Inverness, this is a fish and seafood subscription service and these guys ensure that you receive tasty and sustainable Scottish seafood straight to your door. It’s a fantastic service with the fish being hand-picked daily by the fishbox team and delivered on your chosen delivery day.
Kintyre Smoked based in Campbeltown on the west coast on Scotland is my all time favourite stall at Glasgow’s Partick farmers market although products are also available from their online shop . Archie and Jane produce a mouthwatering range of products including smoked salmon, smoked mussels and scallops, smoked haddock and halibut and a range of delicious smoked cheeses.