Paella is a very usual dish in Brazil; and as a Brazilian, I love Latin cuisine in general. I recreated this classic with my personal touch, adding more spices, seasonings and a little tropical taste, with the coconut milk. It’s always a great success at my parties and I hope you enjoy! —Carol Witherspoon
whole garlic cloves, pressed in the middle
garlic cloves, crushed
clam stock (or unsalted sauce)
fresh calamari rings
unsalted fresh burbot (or regular cod or mackerel)
Valence rice (or a high quality long grain)
green olives, rinsed and wiped
bouquet guarni_ 3 fresh sprigs each of: parsley, thyme and basil
dry white wine for marinating
dry white wine for cooking
extra virgin olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Water as needed
Kosher salt to taste
Ground black pepper (freshly ground) to taste
Chipotle powder to taste
3 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
freshly ground Mondego cheese
In This Recipe
Marinate the seafood in a big bowl with half the wine, half the coconut milk, a good dash of olive oil, the salt and the bouquet guarni, for about 30 minutes tops. When removing, remove all the liquid.
Cut the fish in chunks. Shell and devein the scampi_ you can do this by gripping its body on one hand and twisting the head off with the other_ but you may separate some entire for decoration; which will also provide a more flavorful dish. Then turn the scampi over, pull the shell open (lengthwise along its belly); working from the head end downwards; prise it open and pull the prawn free. Leave the very end of the shell on. To devein it, check for a black line down the back of it, and carefully remove it with a toothpick or a small, sharp knife. You will actually leave the tail on (which is called to butterfly a prawn or scampi). Then make a deep cut along its belly, open it outwards and press it down, to release the flavors. This latter technique can be done right before serving, or as you prefer.
In a pan, bring the water to a quick boil (equivalent of two fingers of height of liquid), add the mussels, pepper and lemon juice. Turn off the heat right after that; let them on the hot stovetop until they open up the shells. Once they do, remove immediately from any heat or water and reserve, with the shells wide opened.
In a big sauce pan, sauté the fish (moderate heat) in two tbsp of olive oil for 3 minutes the first side, then flip and add the calamari rings on top; but remove from heat in 2 minutes. Reserve away from all heat, along with the mussels. In the same pan with the same oil, quickly sauté the scampi for 2 minutes. All of these delicate seafood cannot be overcooked; so consider that you add them to the steamy hot rice in the end; adding another 2 minutes in the hot rice will finish cooking them to perfection, without getting mushy.
In a big paella pan, sauté the remaining olive oil with the whole cloves of garlic and the rosemary and let them aromatize it. Before burning, remove them. Keep the moderate heat; and add the crushed garlic. When it’s about to brown, add the rice and ‘fry’ it for a couple of minutes_ So as not to let the garlic get bitter, don’t let it get brown. Add the clam stock, saffron flowers, paprika, turmeric, salt, chipotle and tomato purée, and give it a stir. Cook preferably in low to moderate heat. Keep a lid on top and open on 5 minutes; or if not using a lid, just keep an eye on it. Add half the coconut milk and part of the wine. Let it finish cooking and 5 minutes later you should check again; to see if the rice is almost al dente and if it needs additional liquid. If it does, add a bit of water and the remaining wine, but solely the necessary. Add the fish. Sprinkle the chopped parsley. If the rice is al dente, you may turn off the heat and add the remaining seafood, even the ones for decoration, so they will also absorb the moisture. Also add the olives. Stir it a little bit and bring the serving platter next to the stove. Delicately place the paella on the platter, using the most beautiful scampi for decorating the borders. Also sprinkle the mondego cheese on top and serve.