One of the big problems presented by seafood paella is grossly overcooked seafood. It is hard to get the rice and the seafood done at the same time. What it comes down to is picking seafood that can take longer to cook and looking for things you can easily spread around the top midway or further into the cooking. I also like to choose things that are whole. It is kind of like meat on the bone. I just think whole shrimp head and shell on are more succulent and not so dry. Mussels as they open leak out their flavorful broth to enhance the rice even further. The whole fish, well, baked whole fish just gets that great texture and is so moist why wouldn't you. The lemons are dyn-o-mite to eat so don't discard them and I like to serve this with mayonnaise. - thirschfeld —thirschfeld
Test Kitchen Notes
Thirschfeld’s paella is seafood galore – anywhere you dip a spoon, you’ll end up with delicious treasures. A tender bite of fennel, an umami-rich piece of sundried tomato, smoky spice from the fennel seeds and poblano peppers are all lovingly held together by soft, moist rice and accompanied by perfectly cooked seafood. I served mine with both chopped cilantro and parsley leaves. I wonder what a touch of Pernod would do to lift the aniseed flavours? Maybe next time. - Kitchen Butterfly —The Editors
2 hungry folks or 4 as part of a multicourse meal
fennel bulb, trimmed cored and julienned, tops, minced about 1/3 cup
sundried tomatoes in oil, minced
1 1/2 cups
fresh garlic, minced
fennel seed, ground
pinch of saffron
canned, unsalted clam broth
whole sea bream, cleaned and scaled, about 3/4 lb
or so mussels, beards removed and srubbed
or so 21-25 shrimp, head and shell on
red poblanos, or poblanos, roasted, skinned and cut in half, seeds removed
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Add the saffron to the water.
Once the oven is to temperature, heat a 14 inch paella pan or a 14 inch skillet over medium high heat. Coat the pan with some olive oil.
Add the fennel and onions, season with a heavy pinch of salt and pepper, and cook until wilted. Turn the heat to high and add the arborio rice and stir to coat the grains with oil. Add the garlic, sun dried tomatoes and fennel seed.
Once the garlic is fragrant add the wine. Let it reduce and then add the clam broth and the saffron water. Place the fish in the middle. Now place the peppers, 10 of the lemon slices around the rice. Place the remaining 2 slices of lemon on the fish. Season with more salt and pepper.
Shake the pan a couple of times to even out the rice, bring to a boil, then slide the pan into the oven. Set a timer for 15 minutes.
At the end of the 15 minutes open the oven door and scatter the mussels around the pan. Set a timer for 5 minutes.
When the timer goes off open the oven and scatter the shrimp. Close the door and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove it from the oven and garnish with the parsley and chives. Serve with garlicky mayonnaise, crusty bread and a simple salad.