My dad came to visit us after we moved to our new place, and I knew I wanted to spend some time cooking with him. He’s the one who taught me to experiment in the kitchen and not to stress about a missing ingredient or precise cooking times. Exact measurements are usually pointless and recipes are really more like guidelines. With the exception of baking, I tend to find this attitude makes my cooking so much less stressful.
When my dad came up to visit, I knew I wanted to capitalize on our mutual love of seafood. I’ve been wanting to try making paella for years and figured this was the perfect opportunity. Andrew and I took my dad to Harbor Fish, our favorite fish market in Portland. Narrowing down the options was the hardest part! The nice thing about paella is that it’s flexible in the type and quantity of seafood. This recipe may not be 100% authentic, but it’s delicious! It takes some time to make, but the effort is worth it, and much easier if you have a helper. This made 4 BIG servings plus leftovers. I was a little lazy – forgot the peas and skipped the herbs – but please add something green so it looks less bland.
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb. sea scallops, cubed
1 lb. mild white fish (I used halibut), cubed
2 lb. mussels, cleaned
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 c. arborio rice
1/2 c. dry white wine
5 c. fish stock (chicken or vegetable will work too)
1 tsp. saffron threads
1 c. frozen peas
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion, red bell pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic in the oil until softened. In a separate pot, heat the stock over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, season well with salt, and cook just until pink. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove the shrimp to a heated bowl.
In the meantime, set a heat-proof colander full of the mussels over the stock pot and cover. Cook until mussels open, 10-15 minutes, then move mussels to the heated bowl with the shrimp. Dad and I opted to remove them from their shells, but if you like the prettier presentation, feel free to leave them in.
Add the rice and saffron to the pan with the vegetables and toast, stirring for several minutes. Add the wine, stirring well. (You should be recognizing my risotto method at this point!)
Once the mussels are cooked, remove the colander from the stock pot and begin adding the broth to the rice, a cup at a time. Allow the liquid to be fully absorbed before adding more.
When all the liquid has been absorbed, the rice should be creamy with a very slight bite to it. At this point, add the raw scallops, raw fish, and frozen peas to the pan, stir to incorporate, and cover. Allow to cook five minutes or so – just until the fish and scallops are opaque. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Serve on heated plates, preferably garnished with fresh herbs.