Saturday, June 24, 2017

Chinese Sizzling Rice Soup

East Garden, Stockton Calif

3~4 Ounce baby shrimp
3~4 Ounce chicken breast (skinless and boneless) (cut into thin slices)
1 egg white, beaten
2 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 Cup peanut oil (for frying)
1 Quart of homemade chicken bone stock made with onions, carrots, celery, ginger, and scallions
1 Ounce sliced cremini mushrooms, sautéed
1 Tablespoon water sliced chestnuts
1 Tablespoon sliced red radishes
1/3 Cup fresh snow peas
½ Large carrot, sliced thinly on diagonal, blanched
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Shaohsing wine
1 Tablespoon Marin wine
2 Crispy oven-dried jasmine rice cakes1, fried

Mix the shrimp, chicken, egg white, and cornstarch. Let rest 10 minutes.

Bring chicken stock to a low simmer. In a very hot wok, quickly stir fry shrimp and chicken for 2 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Preheat a cup of peanut oil to 375 F in a pot, in preparation for frying the rice cakes.

Quickly stir fry mushroom, water chestnuts, snow peas, peas, carrots, Marin, salt and Shaohsing wine. Add cooked vegetables and shrimp/chicken to stock, simmer on low. Correct seasonings.

Fry two oven dried rice cakes quickly on both sides. These will puff up and cook in 10 seconds a side. Drain on paper towels, then, in the company of your diners, add to soup while still piping hot and sizzling.  Garnish with a bit of soy and chopped cilantro. Serve.

Rice cakes can be made weeks in advance and store in plastic bags until needed, Make steamed rice as normal, except use less water. Store rice in an open tray for an hour in the refrigerator, then collect and store in a covered bowl overnight. Roll out some rice ¼ thick on parchment paper. Use a wet inverted rice bowl to stamp out “rounds”. Dry these on parchment paper on a cookie sheet for an hour at 300 F in a convection oven.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Crunchy Coleslaw

The satisfying character of crunchy coleslaw comes from dicing the pieces as opposed to grading or merely slicing. You may also make this using some red cabbage to add color and improved nutrition. Red tastes the same but has increased antioxidants, potassium, Vitamin A and more Vitamin C.

1 Large head cabbage finely diced
1/3 Cup diced carrot or more
2 Tablespoons onion powder1
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1/3 Cup granulated sugar or less
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon each of white and black pepper
1/2 Cup whole milk
1/2 Cup Best food mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Teaspoon tarragon

Peel the carrots. Cabbage and carrots must be finely diced. I do this by hand on a large cutting board but remove the cabbage’s stalk portion by cutting it out.

Pour cabbage and carrot mixture into large stainless steel bowl and stir in other ingredients thoroughly. Correct the seasonings. Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight before serving.


  1. Onion powder is made from oven dried yellow (Spanish) onions. See Ardeshir's-persian dried yellow onions

Ardeshir’s Persian Dried Yellow Onions

Ardeshir was the master librarian for Valid Logic in 1986. He was deeply interested in food especially his own Persian food. He taught me to appreciate the regional foods and how to shop for Persian ingredients. These Persian onions are great as a condiment for cooking such as rice, vegetable dishes, stuffing’s, dressings, sauces, soups and onion dip. The onions sweeten like raisins in the sun by this slow drying process.  It is best to do a whole lot of onions at a time as the oven is on for a long time and the volumetric yield is low. Onions reduce in volume 30:1 or more. Six whole chopped onions make a cup and a half of dry product.

Chop uniformly 6-10 large yellow onions. Set your oven on its lowest temperature. (170o F) Prop the oven door slightly open with wooden spoon. Dry onions on Teflon sheet pans on multiple racks. Turn onions over several times to expose wet onion with a spatula. Onions are done when all are a deep camel brown. They will begin to turn pink before this stage. (Five to six hours.) Store up to a year in an air tight jar.

These onions may be ground, once dried, into onion powder. Use the onion powder to make onion pastry dough or simply as a condiment. I use an old coffee mill for grinding.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Calçots in Tarragona Romesco Sauce

Romesco is red pepper pesto sauce that originated from Tarragona, Catalonia, in Northeastern Spain. The fishermen in this area made this sauce to eat with fish.  It is typically made from any mixture of roasted or raw almonds, pine nuts, and roasted garlic, olive and bitxo peppers (similar to New Mexico chiles) and/or nyora peppers (a sun dried, small, round variety of red bell pepper).

1 Slice  stale soudough bread
½ Cup toasted almonds
1 Fire roasted red bell pepper
1 Ripe tomato seeded and chopped
1 Head of roasted garlic, squeezed out
1 Tablespoon raspberry balsamic vinegar
¼ Teaspoon pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)
Olive oil
White pepper
Sea salt to taste

In the spring, romesco is served with fire roasted calçots, a spring onion (Scallion) typical to Catalonia. Calçot barbecues called "calçotades", calçots are roasted over an open fire until their outer layer is charred (pictured below). The charred layer is then removed and the tender part of the onion is dipped in the romesco.

1. Calçots substitute large green onion

Thursday, May 4, 2017

St Louis Style Ribs BBQ

St Louis style ribs are spare ribs trimmed of the sternum and flap ends, leaving just the most desirable parts. In preparation, these have their membrane removed, dry-rubbed with your favorite rub, and set aside overnight to marinate. I include a smoke component in the rub but little sugar as the sugar has a tendency to burn.
St Louis Style Spare Ribs

Removing the Membrane
Each slab has a meat side and a bone side. The bone side has a membrane called the pleura covering it. It can be leathery when cooked, and, ideally, it is removed and discarded. Many butchers remove the skin or may be asked to do this. If the membrane has not been removed, you should remove it yourself. In the middle of a rack, on the bone side, insert a fork tine between the membrane and the meat. Work a finger in to help separate the membrane. Use a paper towel for a better grip; gently begin peeling it off, trying not to rip it. If patient, you should be able to pull it all off in one long strip.         

Preheat the grill to medium 275-300F. Grill ribs for two hours on medium tuning once after first hour. Once the ribs have some char and color, enclose in a double wrap of heavy duty tinfoil. It is important to seal these so the moisture stays in while baking.
Pre-heat oven to 275 F.
Bake at 275 F for two hours. Let rest wrapped for 20 minutes, serve with one or more sauces on the side.

Mesquite and Chilies Rub

A good rub is a combination of fresh spices, seasonings and herbs. Overnight is often convenient - the prep time is the same but the depth of flavor is deeper.

Sea Salt
Mesquite Smoke Flavoring
Sweet paprika
Merken1 Mapuche Chile
Ground Pasilla Chile
Chile chipotle
Garlic powder
Black and white pepper
Onion powder
Ground Makrut2 lime powder
Cascabel Chile

  1. Merken is a traditional Chilean seasoning created by the indigenous Mapuche people. The local version is made from Goat’s Horn chile (aji cacho de cabra), which is mildly spicy and smoky, but not nearly as strong as chipotle.
  2. Makrut lime leaves are indigenous to Southeast Asia. Many of the trees now thrive in Hawaii. They have a citrus-like, floral aroma and impart a unique flavor.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Steve’s Fabulous Steak Sauce

The color of this sauce is a dark chocolate brown and the flavor not only outstanding on meat but promotes the meat’s flavor marriage to big red wines.  I use an immersion blender to process the sauce until very fine. If the destination includes small-necked bottles, you may want to consider a course strainer to remove any large bits, which may impede the pour ability. I think the exercise of making a sauce like this is a good one for any chef who may need more faith in their abilities. Achieving this sauce may seem almost magical. Originally, I was intending to mimic A1 Sauce, which is very good. Now, I much prefer this one.

If making a hot and mild version, consider doubling the recipe and split the sauce before adding all of the hot pepper. The sauce is so good that it goes quickly so consider doubling the recipe.

1 Chopped onion
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 Small can tomato paste
Start with 1 cup of water (add more and sauce cooks and to adjust thickness)
2/3 Cup orange juice
1 Teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet browning sauce
1/8 Cup red wine vinegar
½ Cup brown sugar
1/3 Cup sugar or enough to correct the sweetness
½ Teaspoon of ground ginger to start (adjust to taste)
1/8 Cup lime juice (juice from two limes)
1/8 Teaspoon of ground cloves
1/8 Teaspoon of ground coriander seeds
½ Teaspoon of ground mustard
1½ Cup raisins
½ Cup orange honey
2 Cloves crushed chopped garlic
6-7 Tablespoons of tamarind paste1
1 Tablespoon ground orange rind
White pepper, black and red pepper to taste
Pinch of thyme
Salt to taste

Sauté 1 chopped onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook until onion is translucent. Add ginger and garlic. Cook 1 minute then combine tomato paste, raisins, tamarind paste, lime juice, vinegar, honey and water. Cook down, adding water as necessary, until well blended, about a half an hour. Using a hand-held post blender, blend all the ingredients finely.  Add water as necessary to thin the sauce as it thickens at this stage. Add all other ingredients and cook another 10-15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt, sugar, vinegar levels as necessary. When cool, pour the sauce into canning jars, tightly fit the lids, and sterilize the sealed jars in boiling water for an hour.  The sauce is now ready for long-term storage.  The flavor will deepen and further develop with age.


1.        The paste of the tamarind in 1 pound blocks can be found in Asian markets offering Thai ingredients. Alternatively, use fresh tamarind pods, discard the outer pods, filaments, and seed pods. Softening these by boiling them in a bit of hot water wage makes the paste easier to work with.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hadaegh Ardeshir Persian Shiraz Salad

Many of the Persian dishes Hadaegh Ardeshir taught me are both simple and delightful. Shiraz, Iran is one of the most celebrated cities in the world of Islam. Shiraz City booms with sophistication and has been known as the heartland of Persian culture for over 2000 years. Located in the southeast of Iran, Shiraz city is the capital of Fars Province and has an estimated population of 1,500,000.
Shiraz considered to be the city of gardens, due to the
many gardens and fruit trees in the city.

Chopped cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. Sometime herbs such as Persian mint are added. This is easy, refreshing, and goes well with practically anything.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Vin205 Chevre with Orange Honey served with Purple Sweet Potato Chips

Whip the goat cheese with a scant bit of whole cream until creamy. Mix in finely diced bits of chives. Pipe cheese onto a plate dotted with fried purple sweet-potato chips. (Purple sweet potatoes will maintain their coloring, and the flesh of Stokes Purple sweet potatoes will actually brighten!)

This is from a very interesting Bistro in Winston-Salem. See my review on Yelp: Official Yelp Event: Sip Sip Hooray At Vin205 Bistro

Monday, April 3, 2017

Steve's Best Ever Lemon Meringue Pie

Meringue bakes 20 minutes at 325 F.

If this pie was any better than it is I would have to kill myself. You have to pay attention making this pie. Take the phone off the hook.

The key to a heaped meringue with a vaulted dome is that the filling be hot right out of the oven when the Meringue top is assembled. The meringue then cooks from the top oven heat, and from the bottom, from the heat of the filling. I start the filling 10 -15 minutes before the crust shell is due from the oven. When the filling is in preparation, all the ingredients for the meringue need be pre-measured; the cornstarch for stabilization of the meringue is also already prepared. You will need a small pastry brush to anchor the meringue to the crust.

Prepare and measure out ingredients for meringue topping. Separate eggs and allow them to come to room temperature. Prepare and pre-bake a bottom piecrust first. Prepare stabilization mixture (see meringue below.) 15-20 Minutes into the baking of the crust, start the filling.

Prepare and pre-bake a 9 inch bottom piecrust, in a 325 F oven. Prick the crust with a fork all over. Cover the crust with tin foil, shinny side down. Fill pie with uncooked dry beans, rice or pie weights, especially the sides. Bake 20 minutes, carefully remove weights and foil, bake 5-10 minutes more until golden brown.

Whisk thoroughly in a medium saucepan
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter below)

Whisk and blend with:
1 1/2 cups water
Start with 1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
4 teaspoons of finely chopped or grated lemon zest
Taste and add additional lemon until just quite tart.

Whisk in the yolks of 5 eggs until creamy. ((Keep the egg whites for the Meringue))  Add room temperature sweet butter (1/2 stick); cut up in small bits to aid blending.

Whisk continuously over medium heat to a simmer then cook 1 additional minute until the filling is thick. Pour the filling into the hot shell. If the meringue is not immediately available, cover with plastic wrap to prevent a crust layer from forming. The plastic wrap may later be removed when ready for meringue topping.

Starch Stabilized Meringue

Cornstarch mixture
Prepare this first, allowing ample time for this to cool.
In a small saucepan, mix one tablespoon each of cornstarch and sugar. Stir in 1/3 cup of water. Heat on medium, stirring continuously; allow thickening into a clear paste by allowing it to boil 15 seconds. Cover, cool, and set aside.

Combine 5 egg white, 1-teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon of Cream of tartar
Beat until soft peaks. Gradually add 1/2 cup of super fine sugar. Beat until stiff peaks but not until dry. Reduce speed to slow, adding a tablespoon at a time of Cornstarch mixture until all incorporated.  Beat on high for ten seconds. With a brush, brush some meringue all around edge of hot pie crust. Use a spatula; wipe some meringue all around edge of hot pie, the heap on balance of meringue, spoon with a large cake knife to a dome. Center in middle of oven. Bake 20 minutes at 325 or until golden peaks are done.


  1. This pie can me made as a Key lime pie using Key Lime juice. The Key lime is an Asian citrus species generally smaller in diameter and has more seeds than the common lime. The Key lime is yellow when ripe but usually available green commercially. It is more tart and and has a slightly bitter flavor. A true adult plant can be successfully propagated from wet seeds taken from its fruit.
  2. Meyer lemons are sweeter and much less acidic tasting than regular lemons.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Basmati Rice Persian Style (Tahdig style)

Throughout the Middle East, this is the rice of choice. This is a very long grained variety. In Iran and Iraq, the rice can be as long as 1/2 inch. Rice is cooked differently in these Persian regions.

Washed Basmati rice is cooked in cold water in an open pot, adding hot water as necessary (¼ of an inch above the top of the rice is the water level) until the rice is just firm, about 10 minutes after the rice has reached boiling. Then, it is drained in a colander. A thick-bottomed large pot with a tight fitting lid is used. The pot is well oiled on the inside-bottom and lined with 1/8 thick slices of potato. (Be generous with the oil.) The rice is heaped in a cone on top the potatoes and a towel is wrapped around the outside of the rice. The lid is added. The rice is then placed on an even very low heat for an hour. The rice finishes cooking slowly. The excess liquid is absorbed by the towel. Once towel is removed, fluff rice with a fork.

Persian style Basmati rice, once cooked, is then flavored in a number of ways: Adding Persian dill, sumac leaves, cooked red Zabresks (Barberries) (similar to tiny Cranberries), baby lima beans are sometimes used. Additionally, saffron in dissolved in 3 tablespoons of hot water until its bright yellow and poured over a ½ cup of the cooked rice. The cooked rice immediately soaks this up, taking on the bright yellow of the saffron, without undue effects of the excess moisture. The bright yellow rice is then sprinkled over the other rice as a flavorful garnish. The Persians are particularly fond to the crisp potato layer on the bottom of the pot – many Persians consider it the best part of this dish. The guest are always served an ample portion of the crisp layer a top the rice.

An important cooking concept is indicated in this Persian recipe. The recipe makes use of a “sacrificial layer”. The concept may be extended or any number of cooking methods where that which is used in promotion of cooking could be discarded or selected for its separating or insulation properties.


  1. Tahdig (Persian: ته دیگ‎‎, tah "bottom" + dīg "pot") is a specialty of Iranian cuisine consisting of crisp rice taken from the bottom of the pot in which the rice (chelow) is cooked. It is traditionally served to guests at a meal. Ingredients commonly added to tahdig include yogurt and saffron, bread, potato and tomato. Variations of tahdig include placing thin vegetable slices  at the bottom of the pot, so they crisp up instead of the rice. Common vegetables include potato, carrots, and lettuce. Iranians also apply this crisping method to spaghetti as well, providing a hardened base. [ From Wikipedia]

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Chinese Sweet and Sour Pork

Sweet and Sour1 Pork is perhaps the best-known Chinese-Cantonese dish. It is very popular because of the flavorsome sweet and sour sauce—the sweetness from sugar plus the tangy ketchup and sharp rice wine vinegar and with  crisp fried pork pieces. The green,optionally red bell peppers, and pineapple chunks and onions add flavor and color.

1 pound chopped pork (Boston butt)
1~2 Green bell pepper
Slices of carrot, blanched
1 whole large onion, chopped
1 can of Dole pineapple chunks, reserve pineapple juice
Peanut or corn oil
Soy sauce
3 tablespoons sherry or Shaoxing Rice Wine
1 clove chopped garlic
2 Tablespoons chopped ginger
2 Tablespoons catsup
1 cup of good chicken stock and some orange juice
2 Tablespoons sugar or 50-50 with brown sugar
3 Tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons corn starch
Red food coloring, optional
1 - 2 Tablespoons of ground California pod chilis

Marinate  chopped pork in refrigerator over night in  sherry, chopped garlic, crushed ginger and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Remove meat and set to drain then pat dry.

When at room temperature:

Heat 3 cups of oil to 375o F in a deep pot. Roll meat in corn starch. Cook five to eight pieces of meat at a time until brown and crisp. Remove with slotted spoon, drain on paper towels. Repeat until all meat cooked. Cover with a towel.

In a 2 quart sauce pan, combine 2 tablespoons of corn starch with 6 tablespoons of vinegar. Stir then add 1 cup of good chicken stock and 6 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of soy, 2 tablespoons ketchup, 1 - 2 tablespoons of ground California Pod Chilis, a pinch or two of cayenne pepper or white pepper to taste. Add reserve pineapple juice. Cook stirring until thick. Correct the seasoning. Set aside.

In your very hot wok, add 1 tablespoons of peanut oil, Stir fry onions and green peppers, a few thin wide diagonal slices of carrot. Add pineapple, hot sweet-sour sauce and all of the meat. Heat and serve on a oval plate.

Goes well with Thai jasmine rice. Garnish with cilantro and garlic chives.


  1. Sweet and sour is a generic term that encompasses many styles of sauce, cuisine and cooking methods. Commonly used in China, it has been used in England since the Middle Ages, and remains popular in both Europe and America.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Hasselback Potatoes

Hasselback potatoes trace to Stockholm, Sweden, where the restaurant Hasselbacken first served them in the 1940s. Initially, the slices are closed but open as they cook where the edges become crisp and their center softens nicely.

Maris Pipers are the best potato for these, but any medium-sized, starchy  baking potato will also work. Flavorful olive oil is used or good sweet butter.

Hasselback Potatoes

2 medium Maris Piper baking potatoes
2 cloves garlic, sliced, (optional)
Extra virgin unfiltered first-cold pressed olive oil or clarified butter
Sea salt and white pepper
Rosemary, minced

If your potatoes insist on rolling around, shave off a small strip lengthwise so that they can sit on a flat bottom. Using a sharp knife, slice the potato thinly across, width-wise. To make things much easier, lay two pencil (or wooden spoon handles) either side of the potato as a knife-stop. Stuff thin slices of garlic (optionally) between the slices. Drizzle with olive oil or clarified melted butter. Bake for 20~30 minutes at 350 F. Add more butter or oil and sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt and white pepper. Continue to bake another for 20~30 minutes until the potato is cooked through and the edges are crispy.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Spanish Aioli Garlic Mayonnaise

Spanish aioli is often served with tapas, seafood or Paella. My friends like to dip vegetables in it. The blanching of the garlic tames an otherwise wild nature.

4 large cloves of blanched garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed Myer lemon juice
2 egg yolks, farm fresh
White pepper, to taste
Pinch of sweet paprika
Dijon Mustard optional, to taste
Sea salt
1 cup olive oil

Blanch garlic in boiling water for 1 1/2 minutes, then plunge cloves into cold water to stop the cooking process. Pat the cloves dry. Add minced garlic and a pinch of salt to a mini-food processor and chop fine. Add two egg yolks, lemon juice, white pepper, and pinch of paprika. Turn processor on and slowly drizzle in olive oil to make a thick mayonnaise. Correct the seasoning with extra salt, pepper, optional mustard and extra lemon juice as required and process again. Cool in refrigerator for two or more hours before using.

If the sauce breaks while making, for any reason, add an additional egg yolk and reprocess until thick.

Mostarda Ala Stefano (Mustard Relish)

This recipe was inspired by a picture appearing in the Cooking of Italy of a Cremona factory Mostarda, a Lombardy relish resembling chutney that is flavored with mustard oil. This flavor, however, was adapted from my Mango-jalapeno chutney. This is a very colorful eye-appealing mixture that can perk up a plate nicely.

Italian Mostarda is fruit with grapes preserved in syrup that gains quite a kick from a healthy jolt of powdered mustard seed, and is one of the standard condiments served with boiled meats in northern Italy. Found all over Northern Italy, the best known variation is that from Cremona (Mostarda di Cremona), which is also produced commercially. The true Mostarda is made from the grape "must" in the late fall and is characterized by the presence of candied fruit in a spicy syrup. This is somewhat different but delicious.

1 cup water
1/3 cup fine red wine vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup Molasses
1/3 cup Dark Karo syrup
Powdered ginger
1 tablespoon dry hot mustard
White pepper
Pinch of salt
Ground cloves
Small pinch cinnamon
Chopped Dried apricots
Golden raisins
Black Raisins
Dried cranberries
Small boiled white onions (fork tender)
Oil cured pitted black olives (optional)
White grapes
Black grapes
Red grapes
Lemon juice for one lemon
Maraschino Cherries

Add liquid ingredients and spices to a saucepan. Bring to boil. Then cool to warm before combining with ingredients.

Toss in stainless steel bowl. Toss well. Wait ½ hour. Taste for seasonings. If not spicy, salty, hot, sweet, sour enough, correct seasoning accordingly. This needs to be tossed for three or more hours (overnight is good) and should be best served warm. If preparing a day ahead refrigerate but remove and return to room temperature several hours before serving with main course.

Serve at the table in decorative Italian dish. Let everybody help themselves. Goes well with paella, Italian style cured meats, steak, lamb, or pork.

  1. I have seen recipes that claim the right ingredients or amounts are such-and-such. I venture there are no "correct" or "exact" anything when it comes to recipes that are handed down for decades or more. It is made from one or more available seasonal fruits. Mostarda di Cremona is a fruited mustard, like a chutney. It is made in Cremona, Lombardy on the River Po.
  2. The fruits can be whole, sliced or chopped, but they are usually peeled first, then simmered in sugar water.
  3. Types include: Agrumi is made from whole citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and tangerines;
  4. Mostarda di Cremona Frutta Mista is made from mixed fruits such as apples, lemons, oranges, pears and tangerines;
  5. Mostarda di Mantova is made with apples
  6. Mostarda di Milano is made with citrus fruit and cherriesMostarda di Milano is made with citrus fruit and cherries
  7. The taste combination of sweet, sour and spicy may date this back to Romans.

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: