Sunday, September 11, 2011


It's that time of year again.  The holidays are just around the corner and I'm already bookmarking all recipes I want to test and practice before I decide what to make for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This year is a big deal for me because it's been one year since I graduated and I want to make this first year of holidays since I've officially moved back to the City a memorable one.  There are several things at the top of my menu list, one of them being paella.  Though I had been flirting with the idea for a while, I didn't seriously look into a paella pan until more recently.

And well, I finally did it.  I purchased a paella pan with all the ingredients for a great paella and I could not be happier!  

About a month ago, I became obsessed with paella after having for the first time in years and then after watching an episode of Avec Eric  I thought to myself "Alright, I'm getting a paella pan!".  So what's been the hold up?  Well, I thought it would just be as easy as that--buy a paella pan.  But it wasn't.  There are carbon steel pans, stainless steel pans, and enamel coated carbon steel pans--I had no idea what the differences were other than their prices and I'm pretty particular when it comes to choosing kitchenware.  My head was spinning.

So after some research and asking around, I was pointed in the direction of The Spanish Table in Berkeley.  It was love at first site.  If you're ever in the mood for making tapas or paella this is your one stop shop.  After stepping one foot in the door, The Spanish Table became one of my favorite specialty food/ kitchenware stores around.  I was so impressed by their selection.  They have everything from paella pans, to Jamon Iberio, to canned fish, to Spanish wines, to all the fixings for an amazing Spanish inspired meal in--they seriously have it all.

It might be helpful to mention what type of pan settled on.  I bought an enameled carbon steel pan that supposedly feeds 4 but according to the guy at the shop, it means "four Spaniards"  which roughly translates to 6-7 servings for us.  The reason I chose the enameled one was because the stainless steel was far too pricey and two of the workers at The Spanish Table recommended either the carbon steel or the enameled pans.  The carbon steel pan, as it turns out, is a lot like a cast iron skillet or a wok where you have to season it after each use and it easily rusts if it comes into contact with water for long periods of time.  The enameled, on the other hand, can be soaked in water after each use and does not need to be seasoned.  They both supposedly come out with the same quality of paella.  So, knowing me, I chose the one with the easiest clean up. 

Eric Ripert makes paella look easy.  He really does.  But let me tell you, it definitely takes some practice.  Although I have to say that this first attempt at making paella was not too shabby, though I will have to make it several more times before I get it just the way I like it.  This time around I didn't follow Ripert's ingredient list exactly because of the limited amount of time I had to grocery shop today but I thought I'd give you his entire recipe here anyways so that you can make it the way he did.

Recipe via Avec Eric:


¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ pound chorizo, sliced ¼-inch
1 onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
½ tablespoon saffron
1 teaspoon turmeric
3 cups short grain rice
8 cups chicken stock
2 cups green peas
1 pound striped bass fillet, cut
   into 8 pieces
18 large shrimp, peeled and
1 pound mussels, rinsed and
   beards removed
2 dozen cockles, scrubbed
1 red pepper, roasted, peeled
   and cut into ¼-inch julienne
¼ cup chopped parsley
- paprika
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges


Place an 18-inch paella pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, ad chorizo and render the sausage. Add the onions, garlic, saffron and turmeric and sweat until just softened. Add the rice, stir to coat and lightly toast the rice for about 3 minutes.
Add chicken stock and stir to combine. Cook for 15 minutes adding more water as necessary to keep the rice moist. Stir in the peas and add the striped bass and shrimp to the rice, making sure each piece is slightly buried in the rice. Cook the paella for another 4 to 5 minutes until the shrimp and fish start to turn opaque. Add the mussels and cockles with the hinge sides down, so they can easily open and place the peppers around the pan like spokes on a bicycle. Cover with foil and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or until the mussels and clams open.
Uncover and sprinkle with chopped parsley, paprika and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Ripert's recipe does not call for this but the people at The Spanish Table said that you can finish it off in the oven also if your rice is cooked through and there's not enough liquid for your seafood to cook.


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