Edited by tasunkawitko - 9/18/12 at 6:56pm
Helfen, Wehren, Heilen
Die Wahrheit wird euch frei machen
I would definitely eat that, yum. You can't go wrong with paella, I've been craving it lately! Personally I don't pay too much attention to authenticity and I like to put in the flavors that I want to taste rather than adhere to strict rules. I'd love to go to Valencia and eat paella with snails in it, it's a dream of mine. Some have told me that the paella I make is more Cuban than Spanish because I put tomato and bell peppers in it. Oh well, I love rice with tomatoes and bell peppers! Also instead of fish I use clams. I've put squid in it before too.
I don't know about any battle but as good as this looks from my perspective two key steps for Paella were missed. One is sofrito and the second is Soccarat.
Add your Saffron to some warm water or stock a few hours in advance of making your dish so it can "dissolve". Paella turns out better if you don't cover it as this steams the rice. This gets easier to gauge with experience. You have to be careful covering the rice or you can totally miss the Soccarat that makes Paella such a fantastic dish. Paella like Risotto is all about the rice, not the ingredients you add. Less really can be more.
Here's a link you may find useful that talks in more detail about the two steps I mentioned. Keep working at it and once you get these few steps down you will take your dish to another level. In the mean time each dish along the way to perfection will still be delicous!
For Paella pans I'd suggest;
Koukouvagia - i like your outlook on paella, and imagine that it would be great to do one as you describe with the valencian breeze in the air ~ the clams sound great but i forgot to get them this time. besides, it's hard to get good clams in montana - lol
duckfat ~ you make a very good case for the soccarat. i've been having trouble with this and have assumed that i was reducing the heat too much for simmering the rice. your suggestion that the foil is causing it makes perfect sense, and i intend to begin "weaning" myself away from the foil. my concern here was that the meats, especially the shrimp, wouldn't cook through on the stovetop in the allotted time (20 minutes, give or take) for the rice to cook, unless the foil was there. i guess i should simply bite the bullet and attempt it and i am sure it will turn out fine.
as for the sofrito, i thought about this and almost went with it, but in the end decided not to as i had only canned (not fresh) tomatoes on hand. my understanding is that tomatoes are great in a paella, but not necessarily required ~ most recipes i've seen include them, but at least two people i talked to who have lived in spain say no - in fact, one said HELL no. to be honest, i'm not sure who is right, or if there is a right way.
looking forward to checking out your links - i love this stuff and from what i can see, it can only get better!
I'm probably the odd Duck here but outside of prime mater season I prefer canned tomatoes. Now bear in mind I'm doing Paella on a BGE so I'm getting all kinds of smokey goodness in my sofrito. If your doing Paella on a stove top and opt for canned tomatos then I'd go with a fire roasted product. I've never been to Spain so I won't be the one saying there is some absolute right or wrong way. I doubt even the Spaniards can agree on that.
I do prefer Paella with Sofrito and the benefit is that when you add the tomatos this cools down the pan and it's a great time to add the garlic as it's very easy to burn in a traditional tin Paella pan.
I use a Spanish Chorizo that cooks up more like ground meat. I also use a brunoise of celery, onion, red pepper and carrot.
You can still achieve Soccarat if you cover your pan but just do it long enough to steam the shrimp. They cook fast. If you cover the pan too long then the rice gets sticky and then it's very hard to get that nice crust.
I love Paella. It's one of my favorite grill foods. I'm not sure it will replace grilled back strap or steak but it's pretty darn close! Cod is an excellent choice for fish. If you cook over Charcoal Cod stays moist and flaky but really absorbs the smoke flavor.
Excellent photos and write up.