Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wild prawn and cod paella with smoked sturgeon and heirloom tomatoes


I craved the lusty sunshine aroma of saffron and of smoky pimentón. I had fresh peppers and flatleaf parsley, a nubile pink brandywine tomato and a bag of rice. I didn't have any bivalves around, and even though it's practically not a paella without mussels or clams (shit, some langostines would be nice, too), I did have some gorgeous trawl-caught wild gulf prawns*, some California (true) cod and some smoked Columbia River sturgeon (compliments of my dad, the intrepid sportsman). Paella was definitely on the menu.

*Pardon the distance from my table! I'm trying to be better about at least sticking to my coast when sourcing my protein and produce, but sometimes I fold a little. At least they're not farmed. Baby steps!

Such a basic dish, if you keep things like smoked paprika and saffron in your kitchen! You don't even need a paella pan (I need one more piece specialtyware like I need a hole in the head), although without one I will never achieve that golden crust prized by my Spanish countrywomen (right, Núria?). Come to think of it, I don't have a crockpot, so that means I can have a paella pan (and what the hell, throw in a nice tagine for good measure), right?

Dice up some bell pepper (red, yellow or orange; I think green is too strong-tasting), onion, garlic and tomato. Heat olive oil in the a pan and add the vegetables (except the tomato). Fry for a minute, then add the rice and paprika. Stir-fry the rice for a few minutes, then add a splash of white wine and some chicken or fish stock. Add a bay leaf, a pinch of red chili flake and a pinch of saffron threads, then stir and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is done, then take off the lid, stir in the seafood, salt and pepper, tomatoes and chopped parsley, and stick the whole thing in a hot oven until the top of the rice gets a little browned and crispy. Top with more chopped parsley.

For Jube and Norm (and other oenophiles) - I paired this with a Domaine Labbé Vin de Savoie Abymes 2006. (Yes, it was displayed directly beneath the seafood case, else I'd never thunkit.) The minerality tapers off the juicy fruit notes, while quelling the acidity a bit. It complemented the floral saffron and sweet tomatoes in the paella perfectly, and cut right through the rich starch and seafood. Even though I don't usually think about wine, I at least know what it tastes like!

27 comments:

glamah16 said...

Oh man thats looks so good.Anything with shellfish is made for me.Beautiful.I have the pimentonbut need to keep saffron on hand.

Peter M said...

Vild the Googoolily (yeah, I'm dyslexic today), we are sympatico today. HOLA Espana and to you Madrid West...right there in Heather's kitchen stadium!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

The paella looks wonderful! I love one pot wonders like this. I also love a girl who's not afraid to wing it with the ingredients at hand!

Peter G said...

Love saffron and pimenton...and it looks like you've done great with the paella. I'm really surprised there's no pork in it...hmmm

Lisa said...

Wow, I want to lick my screen, dust and all! Seriously, that is a good looking plate of food.

Jan said...

That looks wonderful, Heather.

The first time I ate paella was in Spain. It was classed as an appetizer on the menu, and allegedly served 2. Honestly, it would have fed a family of 4 for a few days.

And yes, we were foolish enough to order a main course.

Syd said...

I just finished dinner and I'd STILL dive head first into that plate. Naked.

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

Heather that looks so incredible and good for you with trying to stick to your coast for protein and produce. Sure hope you have a better shot at it than I do here in the deep, deep non-summer growing season south!!!

I love how you always mix a bunch of flavors together (prawn, cod and sturgeon). I am so boring when it comes to that but then again I am cooking for 2 young'uns!

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

Wow that looks tasty!. I love your description: "lusty sunshine aroma of saffron"

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

This looks so gorgeous! I love seafood. I really, really need a paella pan. Looks like it's a trip to Ikea (I have a reduction stovetop and they have reasonable pans that work).

Leigh said...

hi - the smoked fish is an interesting touch, i like - i like a lot. BTW - your recipes/posts recently have been excellent! Daily! I'm yet to attain daily!

Foodycat said...

I bet the smoked fish added fantastic flavour! Another triumph.

Catherine Wilkinson said...

Are you the love child of MFK Fisher? Cause this genius has to be genetic.
Wine choice, very excellent. Who's stocking those shelves by the fish???
Robert Parker's love child?

Bellini Valli said...

Great paella Heather. I enjoyed the fact that you utilized what you had on hand to come up with a very tasty dish!!Here in the valley I would have to add Kokanee which is a land locked salmon here in the Okanagan.

Pilar - Lechuza said...

I think your paella is very good looking!!
I have just fell into your blog and I find it very interesting. If you don't mind, I'll come to visit you quite often.
Regards from Spain

Mike of Mike's Table said...

That's a beautiful looking paella!

Heather said...

Courtney - Trader Joe's has decent saffron for cheap. I don't use it often, but I'm glad I have it!

Peter the Greek - It was weird that we made similar dishes! Your prawns looked a lot better than mine, though. :)

Susan - I really didn't want to go to the store again. :P Forced creativity is sometimes all I get!

Peter a la Oz - I reeeallly wish I'd had some chorizo on hand for this. I do have some venison chorizo, but it's just not the same!

Lisa - My screen could use a good dusting, thanks! :D

Jan - I couldn't imagine just having a big-ass plate of paella as an appie and then diving into an entree! Oh wait, I try to do that type of shit all the time. :\

Syd - Woo-hoo! I'll bring the bourbon!

Judy - I never realized that you don't have a year-round growing season. My fantasies of moving to Florida have been dashed.

Marc - Heh, well I did get an A in Creative Writing when I was in high school. :P

Jen - I am so with you on the Ikea tip. They have tagines too. And I need more cute shit to photograph. Ikea!

Leigh - Heh, I didn't keep that up too well, did I? I ate a chili dog and jalapeño cheese fries with a cold bottle of Fat Tire for dinner last night. SO GOOD. :P

Foodycat- The smoked fish did give it a nice flavor!

Catherine - You are WAY too good for my ego, honey. I sure wish I had the time and talent to write the next Serve it Forth!

Valli - Sometimes you just gotta suck it up and make do! :) I can't say I've ever had Kokanee. Sounds very interesting, though!

Pilar - I am delighted you found my blog! Please come often. :D I love the snowy owl.

Mike - Thanks!

Kevin said...

That seafood salad looks great!

Heather said...

Kevin - Paella is actually a hot dish, not a salad (did you read the part where I said to bake it until browned and crispy?). A seafood salad sounds really good, though!

giz said...

Whoa!!!! The prawns in the paella look absolutely to die for. Smoked sturgeon - what a treat - I don't think there's a finer fish around. Everybody makes a different paella - this one isn't messed up - it's clean and looks just wonderful.

peter said...

¡Ole!

That looks really good. The only thing I would do differently (apart from some bivalves) would be to peel the shrimp and make the broth from their shells first.

It's a total turn-on that you're reviewing wine now, too.

Heather said...

Giz - Gosh, thank you! I really didn't know that paella could be so versatile until I read the Wikipedia entry. ;)

Jube - Rawr! (I'm doing that wildcat clawing movement with my hand)

I usually have a huge tub of shrimp stock in the freezer, and I do have a ziplock full of shrimp shells in there, but it's like 90 fucking degrees out and even turning on the oven was masochism.

Emiline said...

Mmmm. That's all I can think of.

kittie said...

Mmmm... yummmmm... mmmmmmmm...

When I was in Mallorca as a kid I saw a giant paella being cooked - the pan was 2.7 metres wide!!

Núria said...

He, he, you did a great job Heather! Your paella sounds great to me!!! I do it differently but nobody does it the same way... here there's a saying that goes this way... "cada maestrillo tiene su librillo" each master or teacher has his own book... So, as long as it tastes good... that's it!!!! Buen provecho :D

Norm Schoen said...

Nice pick on the wine. From what I hear most of the wine from that region is consumed by the locals.
With the seafood paella you could also match with just about any Spanish white wine-quiz the wine guy at the store or ask the wine guy at your neighborhood shop (Portland Wine Merchants-35th & Hawthorne).
You are making me want to break out my paella pan!

matt wright said...

What a fantastic looking dish, great job. All that seafood is really spectactular.