Thursday, April 28, 2011

Paella, Mexican Style

It's been less than a week since I've been back from my relaxing vacation in Mexico and as the tan fades a little each day, my fond memories remain strong and clear. During the vacation, I had the chance to take an outdoor cooking class with my two sisters - under the sun and just off the beach in Puerto Vallarta. We learned how to make paella and sangria.

If you're raising your eye brow at the instructor's choices, you're not alone. While Spain comes to my mind for both dishes, Mexico does have their own versions by the flavours and ingredients they use. Mexican paella recipes are traditionally cooked outdoors or in the garage in huge iron or stainless steel paella pans, and different flavors are used. Spanish paella doesn't generally include chili. Saffron is popular in both Mexican paella and Spanish style paella recipes.

We made what's called a 'mixed paella' because it has seafood such as clams, prawns, scallops and white fish (we used mahi mahi), chicken, beef and chorizo sausage. When I make again I'll omit the beef, but what and how much you use is up to you. The results will still turn out incredibly delicious and heartwarming.

Simmer and cook the rice right in the pan so the rice can soak up all the amazing flavours. In the class, fish stock, white wine and an alarming amount of saffron were added to the pan (I think the instructors were really trying to impress us!). All of which add up to the ultimate dream for an uncooked grain of rice.

I don't have any quantities for the ingredients, but hey you don't need those. Use what feels right, add more of what you like and omit what you don't. You'll be fine so long as you use one cup of rice for every two cups liquid (stock and wine). So make a glass of sangria, take a deep breath and jump in. Being creative and improving is what cooking is all amount.

And if you still feel like you need quantities, check out an earlier recipe of mine for paella.

Paella (feeds a crowd)

white fish (such as halibut, mahi mahi, monkfish other other firm white fish), cubed
chorizo sausage, half-inch slices
olive oil
red, yellow and green peppers, cubed
onions- red and white onion, chopped
saffron, a generous amount
chili powder
chicken or fish stock
white wine
arborio rice
salt and pepper to season


Heat olive oil in a large paella pan (wok or fry pan) and add garlic.

Add chicken and saute for about five or so minutes. Than add chorizo sausage, clams and mussels. Continue to cook for a few more minutes, than add prawns and after a few more minutes, then white fish. You want to allow lots of time for each of these ingredients to cook.

Next add the chopped onions, red, yellow and green peppers and continue to saute until soft.

Add the white wine, taking care to pour into the pan around the edges. Than add stock, chili powder, saffron and rice. Simmer until the rice is cooked and tender. Your final step is to add the oregano, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference, and enjoy!


Anonymous said...

The rice was pre-cooked?

Melody Wey said...

You could use pre-cooked rice or add the grains in and let the rice cook in the wine and stock.

I've made it both ways and like cooking the rice in the liquid with all the ingredients, it's so flavorful. You may need to add a little extra stock, just keep an eye on it as the rice cooks.