Paella is a traditional rice dish from Spain cooked in a very special Valencian pan. Walk into any Spanish restaurant, whether in Spain or anywhere else in the world and you’re sure to see it on the menu. The distinct characteristic of paella is its slightly crunchy bottom. Think Korean Stone Bibimbap. It’s exactly like that. There are three popular types of paella: Valencian, seafood, and mixed. Today I’ve gone with the “mixed” version by combining seafood, vegetables and bacon. Feel free to use turkey bacon or smoked chicken sausages, it would go great with this recipe!
Curry Clam, Bacon and Green Pepper Paella
2 cups short grain rice (white or brown; in this case brown rice was used), rinsed well and drained
300 grams (10.6 ounces) clams with reserved clam juice (about 1.5 tablespoons)
100ml (1/3 cup) white wine (Chardonnay was used)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 whole shallot, minced
50 grams (1.8 ounces) bacon, chopped
30 grams (1 ounce) mushrooms of your liking (Japanese Shimeji was used)
1 whole red bell pepper, diced
1/2 whole green bell pepper, diced
enough water mixed with clam + white wine broth (step 2) to make either 375 ml or 500 ml liquid
1 tablespoon consomme granules/bouillon powder (e.g. maggi or knorr brand)
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
chopped green onion, for garnishing
1. Using white short grain rice or brown short grain rice requires different cooking times and amount of liquid required. If using white rice, rinse well, drain, and soak in warm water for fifteen minutes and drain again. Use the 375 ml liquid measurement in the recipe. If using brown rice, rinse well, drain and soak over night in warm water and drain again. Use the 500 ml liquid measurement in the recipe. You may need to adjust the amount of water you add after step (3).
2. Once step 1 is complete, and the rice is drained and ready for use, heat the clams, clam juice, and wine in a pot over medium-low fire. Bring it to a simmer and stir; the clams should all open up after a few minutes. Discard any that remain closed. Divide the clams and the broth into separate bowls. Add in just enough water to make either 375 ml of broth, or 500 ml of broth, as explained in step 1. Set aside.
3. In a fry pan over medium heat, saute the olive oil, onion, garlic and shallots until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add in the bacon, mushroom, and peppers and stir fry for another 3-4 minutes until very slightly browned. Stir in the rice and continue cooking for another minute before pouring in the water/broth mixture. Add in the seasonings (consomme, curry powder, cumin and salt) and bring the liquid to a gentle boil. Immediately reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover with a lid. Boil for 10-15 minutes, covered. If using brown rice, continue cooking for an additional 10-15 minutes, checking to see if the liquid has completely evaporated and if more water is required every 5 minutes. Test by taking a bite into the grains. If it is soft (but not mushy!), then it is done.
4. Next, turn off the heat and arrange the clams on top of the rice. Cover again with the lid and let the paella sit for 15 minutes, untouched. Uncover, fluff with a fork, and sprinkle with a handful of chopped green onions. Serve right away.
*Note 1: make sure to use a heavy-bottomed pan when making paella so that the bottom of the rice doesn’t burn easily!
*Note 2: feel free to leave out the consomme powder and water and replace it with chicken, seafood or vegetable stock.
*Note 3: leftovers can be easily stored and heated up the next day. Simply scoop out the clam meat and discard the shells, spread it out over the top of the rice, and seal in an air tight, microwavable container. Heat on medium-high for 2-3 minutes or until warmed all the way through.
*Note 4: this dish is best served with a sparkling wine.