Brown Rice Seafood Paella
Paella is a staple Spanish dish that's basically a one-pot baked rice dish. There are a tonne of variations for the toppings, and even the stocks you use to make the dish. This is the kind of recipe that checks all the boxes for me - it's versatile, nutritious, easy and also visually pleasing. Besides, any one-pot meal is a winner for me since we hate doing dishes in our household.
Try my brown rice seafood paella for a quick and fuss free lunch! Recipe is lovely with chorizo too, and you can substitute with chicken stock cubes if you don't have prawn heads.
Recipe makes 2 generous portions. 10 minutes prep time, total cook time 40 minutes.
For the paella
6 large prawns, peeled
2 medium squids, cut into rings
1 cup brown rice, washed
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tomato, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Basil for garnish
For the stock
2 whole garlic cloves, skins on
Salt and pepper to taste
1. To make the stock - cook down the prawn heads with 2 whole garlic cloves, salt and pepper. Press down on the heads to release the umami taste in the head. Bring to a boil for 10-15 minutes and set aside.
2. In a skillet, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and fry 1 chopped yellow onion and 2 chopped garlic until translucent.
3. Quickly fry squid and prawns with 1 tablespoon chili powder, salt and pepper. Set aside when halfway cooked about 2-3 minutes.
4. Fry chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and 1 chopped fresh tomato until soft.
5. Add 1 cup washed brown rice, mix and fry until fragrant.
6. Lower heat and scoop out 2.5 cups of stock. Stir gently and cook covered for 30 minutes of until rice is al-dente.
7. Once rice is al-dente, place prawns and squids on top of the rice. Increase heat to medium and cook with lid closed for another 5 minutes. This creates its signature browned crust at the bottom of the pan that's crucial to its flavour.
8. Serve with lemon wedge and sprinkle of freshly chopped basil leaves.
ALY'S COOKING TIPS
1. Paella calls for Arborio rice however you can use any short grained rice for this recipe. I used a short grain brown rice. The idea is that the rice need to be dense and starchy in order to not become slushy during the cook. If you only have long grain rice like Jasmine or Basmati, I'd recommend soaking the rice in water and using some of that starchy water to cook.
2. Use a skillet if you have one. Using a skillet guarantees even cooking temperature to ensure you never burn your bottom. Use a regular pan if you don't have one but please be careful with the heat, lower is better and stir in more often.
3. Browning the bottom of the pan in step 7 is crucial to a paella's earthy taste. Do not skip this step. The natural sugars in the tomatoes will create a very tasty caramelised crust at the bottom of the pan. Remember to scrap down when serving each scoop!
4. If you have enough squid ink, you can easily make a squid ink variation by frying it in with the tomatoes! I'd recommend serving it with coriander and loads of lemon to balance the taste.