Paella cooking in a Chinese Wok
Happy Saturday, dear friends
Whenever I don’t know what to cook for dinner or I don’t really want to spend too much time cooking, I would come up with simple, “one-pot” or “one-dish” meals – like Chinese Claypot Chicken Rice, Spaghetti, Fried Noodles, etc – just one dish with all the carbohydrates, meat and vegetables in it! Easy!
A few days back, I was watching a cooking show that featured delicious cuisine from Spain and I was inspired to cook Paella, a Spanish rice dish, for dinner. Paella is a typical Valencian rice dish from Spain and the name Paella is the Valencian name for “frying pan.” But as you can see from the title of this post, mine is actually a Spanish rice dish cooked in a Chinese wok – just for the fun of it!
I had a quick look in my refrigerator to see what ingredients I have and I was all set to go in cooking this exotic rice dish for my family. The 3 key ingredients in Paella is rice, saffron and olive oil…. but if you don’t have saffron, you can substitute it with some sweet paprika and 1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric powder for the yellow colour.
I am happy to say that my hubby and children loved this rice dish very much – it was very flavourful and delicious, and therefore, I hope you will give this recipe a try. It is really easy to prepare and I have simplified the recipe below for you with some pictures –
Recipe for Paella (serves 8 persons)
Cut into desired sizes – tomatoes, yellow and red sweet bell peppers/capsicums, french beans
2 sliced large onions, 2 tbsps saffron (if don’t have this, replace with 1 tbsp paprika and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder), 1 tbsp paprika, and 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
Some prawns – washed and seasoned with 1 tsp salt and some pepper
Some cubed salmon – seasoned with 1 tsp salt and some pepper
1/2 a chicken – cut into bite sizes, seasoned with 1 tbsp salt and some pepper
5 1/2 cups rice
2 chicken stock cubes
3 tbsps salt
2 tbsps sugar
lots of freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
(* optional on standby, required during cooking – an additional 1/2 cup or more water or stock)
1) After preparing the seafood, meat and vegetables like above – wash the rice and then measure the required water that is needed to cook the amount of rice.
2) Separate the rice and the water. Set both aside. (It is even more delicious if you have fresh chicken or fish stock and you substitute the amount of water with the stock. I was cooking with what I have at that time)
3) In a wok, heat up the cup of olive oil.
4) Tip in the chopped garlic. After stirring until they are aromatic and slightly golden in colour, add in the sliced onions.
5) After 2 minutes, put in the chicken pieces and stir for about 3 minutes, to seal in the juices.
6) Pour in the water (or stock) that you have measured earlier to cook the rice, and put in the saffron, paprika, tomatoes and bell peppers.
7) Bring to a boil and let it simmer for about 3 minutes to let all the flavours infuse.
8 ) Add the rest of the ingredients – rice, salmon, prawns, chicken stock cubes, salt, sugar and pepper.
9) When they come to a boil, check the taste to see if additional salt is required. The liquid should taste more salty than usual as by the time the rice is cook, the rice will balance out the saltiness and be just right.
10) Lower the heat to medium low to start cooking the rice. Be sure to stir thoroughly to prevent the rice from sticking at the bottom.
11) Cover the wok tightly (I put a weight on the cover) for about 2 minutes and then remove the cover to stir the rice again – we want to make sure the the rice at the bottom gets to the top and vice-versa, to ensure the rice cook evenly with the liquid. Put back the cover for another 2 minutes.
12) Put in the french beans now – this is so they don’t get overcooked and they are still crunchy to the bite when the Paella is eaten.
13) If you think the liquid is drying up too fast and the rice may not get fully cooked, add in a bit at a time the water or stock on standby. Stir to mix thoroughly the ingredients.
14) Repeat step (11) until almost all the liquid is absorbed by the rice. From the picture above, it will be about 4 more minutes before the next step ….
15) Now, turn off the fire and leave the wok covered tightly to let the rice finished cooking, say about 15 minutes more. (I used this time to clean up the kitchen and have a shower).
16) Serve hot with a good shake of Parmesan cheese and black pepper on the rice.
Voila! We now have a famous Spanish rice dish to serve our family! Bon Appetit!
My dinner – a plate of Paella with some sliced Japanese cucumbers on the side