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Japanese Rice Paella in a Frying Pan

(serves 4)
Paella is a culinary gift from the Valencia region of Spain to the rest of the world. In this version we have a combination of meats from land, sea and air, simmered to perfection with saffron-infused rice in the pan.  Not that many people cook Paella because they believe it requires a special variety of rice from Spain and a special cast iron Paella pan. It does not, everybody can cook a reasonably authentic Spanish Paella even if they are not from Spain. My recipe uses Japanese Rice, the ideal substitute rice for Paella.       
 

IngredientsPaella

  1. Prawns (4 large)
  2. Chicken Leg with Thigh (1)
  3. Black Mussels (8)
  4. Smoked Pancetta (80g)
  5. Spicy Chorizo Sausage (80g)
  6. Onion (1)
  7. Tomatoes (1)
  8. Raw Japanese Rice (1 cup)
  9. Lemon (2 wedges)
  10. Saffron Threads
  11. Garlic
  12. Parsley
  13. Paprika
  14. Oregano

Cooking paella is a bit more tricky than other rice dishes and the proportions need to be just right. For this recipe you’ll need a large frying pan that is 11 inches in diameter (top) and 2 inches deep. It can be a slightly bigger but definitely no smaller.

Preparation

  1. Debone the chicken leg and cut the meat into bite sized chunks. Cut the heads off your prawns just behind the carapace and snip off all whiskers. Shell and devein the prawn bodies and slice lengthwise down the middle to bisect each prawn.
  2. Boil 2 cups of water in a pot. Add the chicken bones and prawn heads into the boiling stock pot and keep the stock simmering on a low flame.
  3. In the meanwhile marinate the chicken and prawn meat in a mixture of 2T oil, 1t oregano, 1t chopped parsley, 1t paprika and flat 0.5t of salt.
  4. Julienne the onion into small bits, press enough garlic to get roughly  1T of minced garlic and dice 1 tomato. Furthermore cut the Chorizo into thin slices and the pancetta into small pieces.
  5. Soak and agitate the mussels in some cold water. Strain, then clean and de-beard the mussels.
  6. Drizzle some oil onto your frying pan. Stir fry the chorizo and pancetta on low heat until the fat has been rendered from the meat. Set aside 4 slices of Chorizo and put the remaining slices of Chorizo into the simmering stock pot.
  7. Add the onion to the pan. Continue stir frying on low heat until they begin to brown. Next add one cup of Japanese rice and continue to stir fry for a minute more to coat the rice grains. Stop at this stage until you are almost ready to serve the Paella.
  8. Pour the stock through a strainer into the pan. Add the garlic, tomatoes and the mussels together with 1t paprika, 1t oregano, 1t of saffron threads, 0.5t sugar and the juice from 2 lemon wedges . Top off with enough hot water to bring the water level halfway to the top and bring to a low simmer. Simmer uncovered for about 35 min for the rice to be done.
  9. Arrange the prawns, chicken and the 4 reserved slices of Chorizo in a casserole (or baking tray) and place in a preheated oven. Grill till the prawns twirl up. Remove from the oven and spoon the drippings onto the cooking rice evenly. Mix gently. Return the casserole dish to the oven (now turned off) to keep your meat warm.
  10. When the pan begins to dry, check the rice for texture and decide if you need to add additional hot water – drizzle only a little each time. Too much water will result in mushy paella. Once you are satisfied that the rice is properly fluffed up and at its maximum size, turn up the heat a bit, arrange the meat on the rice.
  11. When there is no more liquid visible and the ‘socarrat’ or crust has formed at the bottom of the pan, turn off the fire and allow the paella to rest for a few minutes on the stove and then serve your paella in the pan itself.

Notes

  • The ideal rice for Paella is a short-grained Spanish variety like Bomba, but those are not easy to buy outside of Europe. Many tend to use Italian Arborio as a substitute because it also happens to be short grained but that is entirely the wrong type of rice to use. Rice meant for risotto cannot absorb too much water without becoming mushy because of its high amylopectin content which is why risotto is eaten wet and al dente. Paella must be cooked until it is dry outside but fully hydrated inside which is what makes Japanese rice ideal in this case.
  • A personal secret ingredient when I cook my paella is cod liver oil. I usually add some diced smoked cod liver and use some of the oil that comes in the tin instead of olive oil. This adds tons of rich seafood flavour.
  • You can also use mussels that were pre-cooked in brine and frozen but pour away the brine. It is very easy for Paella to get overly salty. Sometimes I use clams instead of mussels.
  • Try not to disturb the rice too much. These rice grains are delicate and you don’t want to break them; you can move the rice around a bit as the pan begins to dry to keep the part over the fire from sticking but you definitely do not want to keep stirring continuously like you are cooking a risotto.
  • You will notice I boiled some of the Chorizo in the stock. In my opinion this is the best way to extract its flavour to the rice. Do not add the boiled Chorizo back to the rice, only the Chorizo that was grilled with the chicken can be used as a topping.
 
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Posted by on August 2, 2016 in Japanese, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipe, Seafood

 

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Oven Cooked Creole Jambalaya

(serves 12)
Jambalaya is an all-in-one rice dish specific to the American South-east. If I’m not mistaken Jambalaya means Ham-Rice.  While some consider Jambalaya a spicy version of its cousin the Spanish Paella, I tend to think of it as a heavier meatier version, as is the way with all things American, and that’s the way I make mine, with lots of smoked or cured meat. I use a special extra ingredient, minced pork sausage filling, this flavours the rice really nicely. I also grill the chicken and seafood separately first, this flavours the fresh meats really nicely.      
 

Ingredients Jambalaya

  1. Clams in Shell (600g)
  2. Prawns (16 large)
  3. Chicken Legs with Thigh (3)
  4. Smoked Pork Belly (400g)
  5. Breakfast Pork Sausages (400g)
  6. Chorizo Sausages (250g)
  7. Onion (2)
  8. Capsicum (2)
  9. Celery (2 cups, chopped)
  10. Diced Tomatoes (1 can, 400g)
  11. Raw Jasmine Rice (4 cups)
  12. Chicken Stock Cube (1)
  13. Whisky
  14. Cayenne Pepper
  15. Paprika
  16. Cumin
  17. Oregano
  18. Thyme

Preparation

  1. Soak and agitate the clams in cold water.
  2. Boil about 7 cups of water in a pot with one chicken stock cube. Cut the heads of your prawns just behind the carapace and snip off all whiskers. Place the heads into the boiling stock pot. Add 1T cayenne pepper, 1T oregano, 1T thyme, 1t salt, 1t sugar. Keep the stock on a low simmer.
  3. Shell and then devein the prawn bodies and cleave each prawn in half if they are big. Marinate in a bowl using 1T paprika, 1T cumin, a pinch of salt and a dash of oil.
  4. In a second larger bowl rub 3 chicken legs with 1T paprika and 1T cumin and 1t of salt. Grill the chicken for 5 minutes and then the add the prawn and grill for another 5 minutes. Dissolve any left over marinade and the drippings in hot stock and then pour the liquid back into the stock pot.
  5. Dice 2 cups of celery, 2 onions and 2 capsicum (i.e. bell pepper).
  6. Debone the cooled grilled chicken and cut it into large chunks. The chicken bones can go into the stock pot.4 Bowls of Pork
  7. Dice the smoked pork belly. Cut the lard portions into smaller pieces (10 o’clock) and the meat portions into larger cubes (8 o’clock). Slice the Chorizo into slices (4 o’clock). Remove the skin of the pork sausages (2 o’clock) and mix the filling with 1/4 cup of water to loosen it.
  8. Spoon 4T of vegetable oil into a large frying pan. Add the pork belly and Chorizo and fry on medium heat till their lard renders. Next, add the sausage filling as well and stir fry until the minced pork browns.
  9. Remove the meat. Reserve 4T of the flavoured oil leaving the rest in the pan. Stir fry the celery and onion in the same pan until they are limp. Then add 4 cups of rinsed jasmine rice and stir fry for a further minute.
  10. Transfer the rice into a Dutch oven (i.e. a baking vessel with a cover). Open the can of diced tomatoes, pour the liquid into the stock pot and the tomato pieces over the rice.
  11. Preheat your oven to 200oC (390oF).  Throw the clams into the stock pot together with 1/4 cup of whisky and bring it to a boil for a minute .
  12. Ladle boiling stock over the rice until the liquid is level with the rice. Follow this with all the cooked meat and the diced capsicum. Mix well. Add the prawn heads and clams (only those that opened) from the stock pot.
  13. Place the Dutch oven in the oven with its cover on. Reduce to 150oC (300oF) when you can smell the jambalaya cooking. After 45 minutes in the oven, check if the rice (deep under the surface) is both cooked and dry. When the rice is perfect, allow it to rest inside the oven with the cover off.
  14. In the meanwhile discard the chicken bones from the remaining stock and add the reserved pork oil to the pot. Boil this down till it begins to thicken into a sauce.
  15. Taste the rice and salt the sauce as necessary (i.e. this is your last chance to adjust the taste of the jambalaya). Spoon the sauce over your jambalaya and serve.

NotesJambalaya in pot

  • This is a recipe for a very large amount of food. You can halve the portions if you don’t have that many people. There shouldn’t be any scaling issues.
  • Between two baking containers of the same volume, always use the one that is flatter. The Jambalaya will cook more evenly. A Jambalaya more than four inches deep will tend to have wetter rice at the bottom. An alternative is to use two containers. Use foil if your flatter containers don’t have covers.
  • Why not just cook the jambalaya on the stove? Because there is a tendency for the bottom of the pot to burn. You can try that after you have perfected the oven method.
  • Why do we have to grill the chicken and prawns first? This is a great way to sear some flavour into them so they don’t taste like boiled meat. The high heat will also remove any freezer taste.
  • Add more cayenne pepper if you like your jambalaya spicy.
  • I used Chorizo sausage as Andouille it is not easily found in many parts of the world. If you can’t find smoked pork belly, use a brined ham hock, salted pork neck or cubed pancetta (but not sliced bacon).  I also left out the customary calamari as squid gets very hard when it is over cooked.
  • Use capsicums of 2 different colours for a better visual impact.
 
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Posted by on August 25, 2014 in Main Courses, Poultry, Recipe, Seafood

 

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