I am looking forward to spring…true, sans the allergies of course, I’m waiting for the buds and all the glorious flowers to bloom. Every year, tulips and crocuses are the firsts to bud up at the side streets, competing well with my favorite flowers, sakura (cherry blossoms). The kids were also on the lookout…on our way home last Friday, my girl pointed the shoots of what seem to be tulips…let’s see next week if they come out. The weather has been nice last week and we really thought it would stay at 5-7° but we were back in the negative.
So what has the crocus got to do with my Ruby Tuesday post? Well, this is related to the flower that produces the most expensive spice in the world, saffron.
Saffron are dried stigmas of Crocus sativus, used in cooking as a seasoning and colouring agent. It’s aroma is often said to have the scent of both honey and grass, tastes hay-like and somewhat bitter. Saffron, although red, gives a luminous yellow-orange colouring to foods. Thus, the perfect spice for seafood Paella.
There ‘s no fixed rule in cooking Paella, everyone has their own favourite recipe and different preferences. I don’t have squid at this time nor a paellera…but I don’t think that makes this dish less than perfect. I put in fish fillets to make up for the squid and the mussels were removed from their shells, got some chickpeas as well. Not the usual presentable Paella from a Spanish restaurant, just home made…
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
½ red pepper, boiled until soft and then cut into long thin strips
2 medium-sized tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
100g peas, cooked
200g prawns (if using cooked prawns substitute fish stock for the water)
200g small clams
2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
a pinch of saffron strands
a sprig of parsley, finely chopped
about 800ml water
Wash the seafoods well.
In a pestle and mortar, grind the garlic, saffron (if using), parsley and a pinch of salt.
In a paellera or a large frying pan, heat some olive oil and add onions, green pepper and carrot and fry gently for about five minutes. Add the chopped tomato and squid, if you have (with the tentacles) and fry on a low heat for another ten minutes.
Add rice and stir well. Add water (or stock) clams and the saffron mixture and bring to a boil. Season with salt. Cover on low fire and cook for about ten minutes. Add the prawns and peas and give it a stir. Arrange the mussels and strips of red pepper artistically on top (in this case I didn’t really do that lol), put the lid back on and leave for another ten minutes – checking that it has enough water. If you think it is getting too dry, add more water, but shake the handle of the pan rather than stir so as not to upset the pattern.
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