Perfect Paella

Apr 2nd

Fernando Gomez’s Spanish mother Ana taught him how to make this paella. He says his mum never uses precise measurements ‘and her paella is delicious’ so Fernando prefers not to give precise measurements either. I’ve used details from what he says in the video to fine-tune the written recipe below.

To cook paella you need a flat frying pan-like dish that has low sides. Fernando also advises the cooking surface is important – you need low heat, spread evenly across the surface of the dish. He also suggests a glass of wine to calm your nerves!

Fernando is a home cook from Sydney, Australia. He’s Moroccan-born, his parents are Spanish and he grew up in Australia.

Cuisine: Spanish
Serves: 4
  • Olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • Handful of chopped chorizo
  • 1 red capsicum cut into strips, leaving some for garnish
  • 4 chicken thigh fillets, halved
  • salt
  • 1 cup passata/tomato puree
  • 2 cups Spanish (or medium grain) rice
  • 1 cup prawn stock (to make the stock, boil some prawn heads for a few minutes)
  • 3 cups water
  • A few saffron strands, ground and mixed with boiling water. (You can use a shop-bought pre-mixed paella seasoning instead of saffron if you like.)
  • ½ chicken stock cube
  • Small bowl of pippies or vongole: Soak the shellfish in salted water for several hours beforehand to get rid of the sand. Change the water at least once. Keep out of the fridge - the cold will kill them. All shells should be closed when you add them to the paella. Open shells are dead and should be discarded. Likewise, when the dish is finished, all shells should have opened. Discard any that are closed - they were dead also and should not be eaten. You could use mussels instead of vongole if you like.
  • 6 green peeled prawns, chopped
  • 4 green unpeeled prawns for garnish
  • lemon wedges for garnish
  1. Fry the garlic in a couple of glugs of virgin olive oil.
  2. Add a handful of chopped red capsicum. Fry until the garlic and capsicum start to soften.
  3. Now add the chopped thigh fillets of chicken. The thigh is best. Breast chicken is too 'white'. Add salt to taste. Cook your chicken, turning, until it begins to brown.
  4. Add the cup of tomato passata, which is an Italian cooking sauce. Add more if you like your food tomato-ee.
  5. Add the rice and stir. This should be the last time you stir. Paella should not be stirred once the rice starts cooking.
  6. Pat the rice down on the bottom of the pan.
  7. Add the prawn stock and water.
  8. Add a couple of teaspoons of the saffron (or paella mix). Remember, paella should look yellow. Now your paella should look like soup with bits of rice and chicken. Don't panic, this is good!
  9. Season with crushed chicken stock cube and salt.
  10. Now turn the heat up so the paella is bubbling nicely. Remember, don't stir the rice but make sure the pan is getting even heat.
  11. Gently add the vongole and chopped peeled prawns around the pan, then arrange your green unpeeled prawns on top with strips of red capsicum between them.
  12. This should now take about 10 minutes to cook.
  13. After 5 minutes you should notice the unpeeled prawns are starting to turn pink. Gently turn each of them over so they can cook properly on both sides.
  14. Also, make sure the stock doesn't all evaporate. If it does, add more but be careful. Rice is a tricky ingredient and you don't want to overcook it. If you need to spread the liquid around don't stir it. Make little channels in the rice instead and allow the water to drain into them.
  15. After another 5 minutes, your rice should be almost cooked. It should be just a tiny bit crunchy. Turn the heat off and cover the dish with a clean cloth for 5 minutes.
  16. Now your paella is ready!
  17. Serve with wedges of lemon.
  18. A light red wine or traditional Spanish sangria goes down well with this dish.


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