Saturday, January 21, 2017

Spanish Chicken and Seafood Paella

Paella is a traditional dish of Valencia Spain. Authentic “arroz en paella” calls for the right pan and a thin blanket of special rice, which develops a crispy coating in contact with an enlarged cooking surface. To the natives of Spain, the most salient feature is what happens to the rice – the star of the show. As more mouths appear, the pan grows in girth rather than height. This is to preserve that contact surface. The larger the pan, the more attention is needed while cooking this (and the more heat). For pans over 26 inches, the usual heat source is a fire pit with a ring that holds the pan, and the pan is continuously tended until it is done.
This dish is as much a visual work of art as food. Taking the time to make this for your guest will leave them with a life memory they will never forget.

If you have never made paella, read the whole recipe to get an idea of the flow. The preparation time for this dish is considerable but the results are extraordinary. If you are looking for an inexpensive dish, this is not it! Despite the preparation time, the dish is easy to make if you pay attention. Most likely, you will need to span two burners on your stove and in doing so, you will need to move the pan around and rotate it as it cooks. Traditionally, paella pans are very thin to quickly transfer the heat, which makes them quick to burn if you are not paying attention. I use a very heavy cast iron skillet, which means I need to turn it less often but it retains a lot of heat so I anticipate temperature rise. The use of gas allows me to turn off and on the heat source as required.

You will need a large roll of heavy tin foil to make a cover for the 14-inch pan, use four large identical square pieces. Fold all pieces along one edge twice to join and form a middle seam. Prepare this ahead of time so when you need to cover the pan, it will be ready. When the cover is put on, you need two glove-type potholders to get an effective seal. Be careful not to dip your pot holder into the stock while doing this or you may bet a nasty steam burn.

Fish Stock
Fish heads from a nice variety of fish, shells from shrimp, shells from lobster, yellow onion chopped coarsely, two stalks celery, 2 whole carrot chopped, 2 cloves of garlic, and 10 cups of reduced homemade chicken stock, 2 cup dry white wine, 10 bay leaves, and cook 1 hour. Finely strain. Reduce to 8 cups. Let stand. Skim off any film forming on the surface. Absorb excess oil with paper towels dipped on top. For best results, make chicken stock yourself with little or no salt. Correct seasoning only after everything is reduced!  (Take a sample of the stock in a ladle; add a pinch of salt and taste to see how you have done.

Main Ingredients
22 mussels in their shells.
22 small manila or littleneck clams or 30~40 large cockles
20 large shrimp or mantis shrimp
6 scampi whole and intact (see picture)
20 scallops
1 pacific lobster tail, cut up
Optional Spanish Chorizo Sausages (if you have non meat eaters, cook these separate and served on the side or skip them)
2 Pounds chicken wings4 and legs or some of both
1 1/2 large Spanish (yellow) onion, chopped
1 cup sliced Scallions (green onions) (separate whites and greens. Cook whites with the other diced onions)
1 pound small squid, skinned, cleaned, discard tentacles/ sacs, remove cuttlebones, and cut into rings about ¼ inch wide
Two blue crabs or lobsters for décor
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 chopped fire roasted red pimentos or fire roasted red bell peppers
3 cups Callasparra Bomba rice1
1/8 teaspoon powdered saffron
1~2 teaspoon pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika aka Pimenton de La Vera)
Salt and pepper
6~8 cups fish-chicken stock (see recipe) – Extra as required
5 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
Olive oil
4 red Jalapeno peppers (for color on top)

Chopped Cilantro
Scallion (green onions) tops from above main ingredients
Lemon wedges
Spanish Aioli Mayonnaise (see recipe)

Heat barbecue. Pierce pimientos or red peppers with a fork. Roast peppers 4 minutes on a side until skins are black. (You can use a plumber torch to touch us spots that did not roast which will make them easier to peel.) Place cooked peppers in brown paper bag and set aside to cool (20 minutes). When cool, using your hands, rub off skins discarding all black skins. Discard seeds and inner white parts. Slice pimientos or peppers into ¼ strips. Cross slice pimientos to half length. Set aside for later.

Place a large pot of water to boil, which will be used to scald the crabs or cook the lobsters.

Scrub the clams and mussels well to remove beards and barnacles. Discard any with broken shells or those that do not close when tapped (just use live ones). Leave the mussels and clams to soak in cold unsalted water with a handful of flour or cornmeal for 30 minutes. Change water and cornmeal and repeat 30 minutes, drain, rinse, in cold water.  Remove the heads and legs from the shrimp, but leave on the tip of the tail shells. Scald crabs in boiling hot water for two minutes if live.  Remove crabs from pot with tongs retaining pot of boiling water for the sausage. If preparing lobster, cook lobster 10 minutes until done, and then drain. Bring fish-stock to a low simmer. Cover stock for later use.

Preheat oven to 220 to keep ingredients warm during assembly, as required.

Slice sausage length-wise. Drop sliced sausage in a pot filled with boiling with water.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Cut into slices one inch-thick. Fry in pan with a little oil. Remove to paper towels to drain. Keep warm (oven).

Pat dry the chicken and season it with salt and pepper. In a 14-inch or larger paella pan, heat the oil on high.  Add the chicken to the skillet, cook it for 10-15 minutes on each side, or until it is golden. Remove to paper towels to drain. Keep warm.  Pour out excess oil, retaining 3 tablespoon.

Meanwhile, pat dry the shrimp, scallops, and calamari rings. When the oil is hot, sauté the shrimp, calamari and scallops until almost cooked through, about 2 min. Season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Remove to paper towels to drain. Keep warm.

Bring the prepared stock back to a low boil. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and sauté the onion until the onion softens and clears, about 5 min. Add garlic and the tomato, season with salt, a little more pimentón and sauté until the mixture, called the sofrito, has darkened and is a thick purée, 10 to 15 min. Stir frequently to insure mixture does not burn.

When the tomato-onion sofrito is ready, add the rice to the pan. Sauté until the rice loses its opaqueness, about 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add saffron.  Pour in 4 1/2 cups of the simmering broth (reserving the balance). Stir or shake the pan to evenly distribute the rice in the pan.

As the liquid comes to a boil, arrange the mussels, chicken, sausage and clams in the pan, submerging them as much as possible below the level of the liquid. Add red pimentos or red bell peppers on top.  Arrange the shrimp and scallops, and calamari in the pan. Center small crab(s) or lobster on top in middle. Add roasted peppers on top. From this point on, do not stir the rice.
Cook the paella on medium-high, rotating and moving the pan over two burners to distribute the heat. Use tongs to examine the rice by pealing back an edge of the tin foil.  When the rice begins to appear above the liquid, after 8 to 10 min., reduce the heat to medium low. Continue to simmer, rotating the pan as necessary, until the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 min. more. Taste a grain of rice just below the top layer; it should be “al dente”. If the rice is not done but all the liquid has been absorbed, ladle a bit of hot stock around the pan and cook a few minutes more.

Sprinkle chopped green onions tops on top of the paella. Cover pan with tin foil lid prepared ahead of time. Using glove pot holders, squeeze tin foil to edge to form some what of a seal. A 100% seal in not required. Cook gently for another 3 min. to help ensure that the top layer of rice is evenly cooked. With the foil still in place, increase the heat to medium-high and, rotating the pan, cook for about 2 min., until the bottom layer of rice starts to caramelize, creating the socarrat, a caramelized layer. The rice may crackle somewhat, but if it starts burning, remove the pan from the heat immediately. (Getting the caramelized layer exactly right comes with considerable experience. You have to stay right on top on it checking often. It is far better to be under cooked than burnt!)

Let the paella rest off the heat, still covered, for 5 min. Sit everyone down at a round or square table. Keep your face away when you remove the foil as considerable steam could be emitted.  Serve the paella in its pan garnished with cilantro and lemon wedges.

Serve Spanish aioli  on the side along with a Lombardy Mostarda relish.

Purchase ingredients the several days in advance to save wear and tear on the chef.
Prep Time: Allow 3 hours, Cooking Time: allow 1 hour 15 minutes

Pan Sizes
1 cup = 14.44 cubic inches
For a 14-inch pan (27 cups), cups all based on 2/12 height.
For a 16-inch pan (34.8 cups), multiply the recipe amounts by 1 1/4
For an 18-inch pan (44 cups), multiply the recipe amounts by 1 1/2
For a 22-inch pan (65 cups), multiply the recipe amounts by 2
For a 26 -inch pan (92 cups)-, multiply the recipe amounts by 3

For Paella supplies see     All the best ingredients to make authentic paella - you can also get pre-assembled kits with many of the things you may need.


1.      See Bomba & Calasparra Paella Rice Paella Rice below

  1. Fresh Scampi are kept on ice and handy until near the end. Take care not to knock off their claws

  1. Buying seafood: Unless money is no object, shopping at the Asian market for the seafood can save you a lot of money. The Asians are sticklers for fresh or live product and carry a wide assortment of shellfish.

  1. Use center sections of chicken wings (these are called the “flats”.
 Callasparra Bomba Paella Rice

Each year a precious amount of the very best rice in Spain is cultivated in the village of Calasparra in the neighboring region of Murcia. The producers grow two historic varieties – Sollana (called Calasparra rice), and the coveted Bomba, which was nearly extinct until gourmet chefs recently recognized its superior qualities for producing the perfect paella.  Both types of rice are cultivated by hand in rice paddies along the banks of the Segura River. With little more than 1,700 acres a year, Calasparra produces just one half of 1% of Spain's rice production. The townspeople protect its quality by obeying rigorous DOC standards. Their Bomba and Sollana rice are the only ones in Spain awarded this distinction. What makes this rice special and worth the money you pay is its unique ability to remain “al dente” in the face of all that mashing around in liquid as it cooks. No other rice can take this treatment as well. The grain is much harder than any other variety in the world, thus allowing it to absorb more liquid (and thus flavor!) This rice maintains its consistency even under extended cooking; it never becomes sticky, fluffy, or mushy.

Figure 1 Mantis (Left) and Scampi (right) Shrimp

Here is another version with lobster:

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Latke or Potato Pancake

Potato pancakes are fried pancakes of grated potato, flour and egg, flavored with grated onion and seasoning. Potato pancakes are topped with sour cream or applesauce. These go well with pork and may be garnished with lingonberry jam. Latkes are potato pancakes that Jews have prepared as part of the eight-day Hanukkah holidays since the middle Ages. The Jewish version may be thickened with Matzo. In Iranian cuisine, kuku sib-zamini is made with shredded potatoes, onion, saffron, sometimes garlic chives5 and sometimes cinnamon.

The starchier the potato, the crisper the latke. The Maris Piper has a golden skin and creamy white flesh with a fluffy texture. This makes it versatile and great for frying and roast potatoes. The graded onion and potato are rung out in a dry towel to remove excess water. The drier the mix, the crisper the pancake. When forming pancakes, press down to thin as pancakes as they cook faster and are crisper. Fry in batches, cook on both sides in hot oil4 until golden brown.

Preheat oven to 200 F to hold warm until serving

1 ¼ Pound Maris Piper potatoes
1/2 Cup finely grated shallots
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 To 3/4 cup peanut oil
2 Tablespoons AP flour6 or Matzo7 meal
Black pepper
Peanut oil

Sour cream, smoked salmon, salmon roe, caviar, dill and seasoned applesauce (salt, Ceylon Cinnamon).

Salt pancakes after frying, layout on paper towels, place in oven to keep warm. It is best to serve when hot.

Sprigs of dill, chives, or both

  1. Sub Spanish onion for shallots
  2. Sub russets for Maris Piper potato
  3. Sub corn oil for Peanut oil
  4. Oil temp is 365 F. Allow oil to regain its temperature between batches.
  5. Find garlic chives at the Asian market
  6. Sub Bisquick for All Purpose flour
  7. Matzo crackers are ground larger for a coarser version, or smaller, for fine meal.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Spanish omelet with Mushrooms

The star in this dish is the egg. Make sure to get good ones, free-range organic farm raised eggs are a good choice. I like to cook some crisp bacon to go with this dish.

7 Button cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 Slices red onion
1 Fresh large garden tomato, seeded then chopped
Pinch of Oregano
Pinch of thyme
¼ Teaspoon tarragon leaves
2 Teaspoons olive oil
Unsalted sweet butter
2 Jumbo eggs, beaten until uniform
Finely shredded good melting cheese (Fontina, Gouda, Gruyère, or Muenster)
Salt and pepper
Chopped chives

Heat a 7 inch non-stick fry pan. Add olive oil, red onion, slices of mushroom and a little salt. Cook on medium while tossing until mushrooms are tender. Drain in a fine strainer and reserve. Add a tablespoon of butter to pan. When hot add tomatoes, oregano, thyme, tarragon, a little salt. Cook on medium until tomatoes have reduced and are tender. Correct the seasoning. Tomato should be somewhat spicy. You may add Cayenne pepper if you want. Set aside tomatoes to a small plate.

Have your plate and a lid for the fry pan handy. Wipe you pan with paper towels. Heat the pan and when hot add a tablespoon of butter. Swirl the pan including the edges to coat the sides. Add the eggs. Swirl the pan to spread the eggs. Using a silicon spatula, work the eggs toward the middle to expose more liquid egg to the heat. Sprinkle on the cheese, reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan. Let cook a few minutes. Feel the lid. It should be hot, if not turn up the heat a bit. Once the lid is hot, remove it. Using two spatulas, fold one edge of the omelet over onto itself as to fold it in half. The eggs should be nearly cooked. When done, turn the omelet onto the plate tilted up to make easier contact with the edge of the pan. Top omelet with tomato sauce, then the mushrooms. Garnish with chopped chives and serve immediately.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Clams and Mussels in Garlic Wine Sauce

This is a simple preparation that in only infrequently cooked in homes. Demonstrating just how easy it is to achieve restaurant quality at home with minimal effort will encourage others to try it. I let my “student” do all the steps. This is more memorable than if you do it.

3 Pounds live clams (or 50-50 Clams and Mussels), washed & cleaned
3 Tablespoons sweet butter and 2 Tablespoons good olive oil
1 Cup white wine (Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc)
3 Garlic cloves, minced
¾ Cup minced shallots
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 Cup Italian parsley, finely chopped

Start by rinsing the clams in water. If you also using mussels, clean these and remove any beards with a sharp pairing knife. Discard those that are open (dead) or broken shells. Then let clams stand covered in a bowl water for two hours to which you add a tablespoon of corn meal. Do not touch the bowl or the clams will “clam up”. You want them to open and drop any excess sand they might have, and additionally, they may be full of salt water which otherwise will make the dish too salty. Do not skip this step. After two hours, rinse with cold water twice.

Preheat the oven to 170 F and put your serving platter in it.

Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot with plenty of surface area2.  Add and heat the oil, when smoking add the clams and half the parsley. Season generously with pepper (Use some red pepper too, if it pleases you.) Flip,  then cover, and cook until all the shells steam open. (Discard any that stay closed.) Remove the clams with a slotted spoon to a heated serving platter. Stick in warm oven to stay warm. Filter the broth through a very fine strainer (need to be able to filter sand) and pour the strained liquid back into the pot. Add the wine, garlic, shallots and reduce liquid on high to concentrate the flavor. Remove from heat, add remaining parsley, the shellfish and swirl in the butter. Taste and correct seasoning.

If serving a pasta (spaghetti or linguini), cook a pound of it "al dente" then toss the clams and pasta in a serving bowl.

1.     Farmed mussels and clams generally do not contain sand but it does not hurt to soak in cold water. Additionally, since these are raised in salt water, their opening will rid some of the undesirable salt.
2.     I use a 14-inch cast-iron skillet with three-inch lip. Its thickness allows a lot of heat to be stored in a preheated pan allowing the chef to flash cook a large bunch of cold clams/mussels quickly so they remain tender.
3.     The smaller the mussels and clams, the sweeter and the tenderer these will be. So if you have the chance to pick these out of the pile, cull the small ones.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Manila Clams with Black Bean Sauce

Manila clams are the sweetest and probably the smallest hard-shell clams you will find in the market, making them the favorite of many professional chefs. Manila clams need only about 3-5 minutes to steam open.
Manila clams are widely farmed in the Pacific Northwest, mostly in Washington State and British Columbia. Unlike some kinds of fish farming, clam farming poses little threat to the environment because these tasty bivalves are hatched in pens and then live their lives in the wild.
From a cooking standpoint, most Manila clams are steamed. You can certainly eat them on the half shell, but few people do for no real reason: They taste every bit as sweet as the Eastern quahogs we eat on the half shell, although Manila clams will be less salty.

Manilas are classically used in pasta and soups. If you want to mix them with other seafood, they go well with crab.

Any clams that do not open their shells while cooking  are suspect and should be tossed.

This recipe is Cantonese and is wonderful served with steamed jasmine rice on Chinese New Year.
The province of Canton, now officially known as Guangdong, is renowned for its super-fresh, subtly prepared food.

"It's the finest cuisine in China," says New Jersey-based Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, a Chinese cooking authority and author who has been dubbed the Cantonese Julia Child.

2 pounds manila clams, soaked with a tablespoon corn meal, the rinsed twice, scrubbed and rinsed again
2 Tablespoons fermented black beans, soaked in water, drained, mashed
2 Large cloves garlic, crushed, minced
1 Tablespoon peeled, minced ginger
2 Teaspoons black soy sauce
¼ Cup Shaohsing wine
1 Cup Bar Harbor or another good clam juice
3 shallots, chopped finely
1 Teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 Tablespoon oyster sauce
2 Tablespoon corn starch
1 Teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper
2 scallion greens, cut diagonally as garnish
Peanut oil

Soak clams in cold water to which has been added a bit of corn meal. The corn meal will cause the clams to open thereby shedding the salt water. Allow to rest un-disturbed so clams open, about ¾ hour. Under cold running water, scrub the outside of the clams with a stiff brush, then rinse twice.

Dissolve cornstarch in  1 tablespoon cold water and retain. Add oil to hot wok or large pre-heated hot cast-iron pan. Add drained clams, and toss with a spoon/chun. Add ginger, and shallots. Toss until clams open. 

Add black beans, Shaohsing wine, soy sauce, oyster suace, red pepper, sugar, garlic, rice vinegar. Stir fry a minute or two. Add clam juice, and  disolved constarch mixture. Stir and heat until the suace thickens. Taste and then correct seasonings, adding white pepper if needed. Garnish with scallions greens then plate.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tender Tagliatelle, Edamame, Sorrel, Mint, with Buttery Aged Havarti

Nuttiness of aged havarti cheese pairs perfectly with crunchy edamame, lemony sorrel, mint topping freshly made wide hand-cut Italian noodles. Thin slices of red apple give a pleasant under tone of sweetness and visual appeal.


Tagliatelle hand-cut noodles made with Durham hard-winter-wheat

Shelled Edamame

Fresh Sorrel leaves

Fresh Mint leaves

Aged Havarti cheese, coarsely graded

Sweet European butter

Sea salt

Thinly Sliced red apple

Pinch of sugar

Red wine vinegar

Pine nuts

White pepper


Acidulate a cup of water, add a little salt and sugar to taste. Core and thinly slice apples lengthwise, store in the sweet acidulated water. Shelled Edamame and blanch in boiling water for one minute. Plunge in ice water to stop cooking, drain and pat dry. Chop mint and sorrel in a chiffonade. Boil a pound of fresh Tagliatelle noodles in salted water. Cook 2+ minutes until al dente. Drain most of the water, tossing pasta with ¼ pound of cold butter cut into patties for three minutes. Add white pepper and sea salt to correct seasoning. Add chiffonade, Edamame, Havarti cheese, pine nuts. Drain apple slices well. Toss noodles and serve.


Optional Items

Grated Romano or parmesan cheese for additional flavor

Italian Capers

Flecks of soaked softened sun dried tomatoes


Friday, April 1, 2016

Miso Mayonnaise - sushi/sashimi sauce

There are many versions of Miso but they generally fall into red, white, and Hatcho Miso ("emperor's miso" Aged 24-30 Months) with less water and salt content and made near Okazaki castle in Japan.
Red (Aka) miso is aged over a year the color of this miso changes gradually from white to red or even black.
White (Shiro) miso is the most popular miso and is made with rice, barley, and a small quantity of soybeans and has abbreviated fermentation. The taste is sweeter than red miso but has less umami.
Miso, when fresh, has a shelf life and will be found in the refrigerated section of the Asian market. This is not to say that it is not available dried or unrefrigerated.
Miso is showing up practically everywhere thanks in large part to the Asian-pacific rim cuisine but because it is so flavorful, marinades, sauces, pasta and soups of all sorts have leveraged it versatility. “The key to fine miso cookery is not to overpower dishes with a strong miso taste, but to integrate the more subtle aspects of miso color and flavor in a gentle balance with other ingredients.”

Create a savory Mayonnaise sushi/sashimi sauce combine to taste these simple ingredients.

1 1/2 cups of Best Foods Mayonnaise
1/4 cup of Awase miso (or 50-50 white and red miso)
2 Tablespoon of hon mirin (true mirin) (sake)
1 Teaspoon fish sauce
1 Teaspoon Seasoned rice wine vinegar

  1. A good source for miso is the  Gold Mine Natural Foods (
  2. Hon mirin (true mirin) not to be confused with Aji-Marin is a lot more expensive and has true umami flavor. Takara Marin is an example as is  12% alchol. All true Marin will have a similar alchol content.