For me, a good recipe should always hit the spot on taste, that is, flavour and texture. A recipe that I’ll make over and over again, however, must also be wittily simple, nourishing, and dirt cheap. I mean, sure, a delicate entremet is surely delicious, but let’s be honest here, ain’t nobody got time to chill and set six frickin’ layers. And yeah, totally, if I bacon anything (yes, it’s a verb now) I’m pretty sure I can tag it #mattprestonlikedit, but I’m sure I’ll enter a sweaty bacon coma shortly after eating it. And heck, I could practically do anything to a piece of chilean sea bass and it’d be yum, but I’d be broke in a week.
Thus arises the dilemma of a poor foodie: sacrificing taste vs sacrificing time/health/wallet’s embonpoint. But you can’t starve a foodie, it just doesn’t work like that. We are a very advanced type of people in terms of our ability to self sustain because a huge part of our brain specializes in just that: nom and nosh.
I am thankful that I can tell when tofu’s gone sour. I am thankful that I am educated to choose those foods that help me thrive. I am thankful that I am not rich, should the abundance turn me a glutton. Yet I give thanks that I am not poor, should the words that fill my mouth become bitter and dry. I am thankful that there is not one perfect way to make a dish, but many different ways to make a dish perfect. And I am thankful that I can find my way.
What are you thankful for?
Remove far from me vanity and lies:
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with food convenient for me:
Lest I be full, and deny thee,
Who is the Lord?
or lest I be poor,
and take the name of my God in vain.
Far from being traditional, this paella still hits all my check-points as far as a recipe is concerned: delicious, simple, healthy, and cheap. I ditched the saffron and gave turmeric a try. I used regular brown rice instead of imported paella rice. Excuse me for using frozen seafood, but excuse you for not knowing that flash-freeze technology has hugely improved since two decades ago. Also, I didn’t bother with any type of stock because I have no intention of using store bought, and time or spirit for simmering my own. Hence I added depth of flavour by charring my corn, tomatoes, and pepper which brings out their sweetness.
Delicious, simple, healthy, and cheapo points: check, check, check, check!
Ingredients for the paella – part I :
3 cups brown rice, soaked overnight
1 large red bell pepper
1 ear corn, husk removed
3 tomatoes on the vine
To prep for the paella, char the pepper, corn, and tomatoes on the gas stove by holding them with metal tongs over direct flame until the skin blisters blackens all over. Be careful when you try to do this with the corn – it will pop a bit! Leave them until cool enough to handle.
Core and remove the seeds from the pepper, then thinly slice. To remove the kernels from the ear of corn, hold it vertically over a large mixing bowl and slice downwards along the core. This way you save all the sweet juice and the hassle of chasing after kernels flying through the air. Finally, dice the tomatoes. Reserve until needed.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
1 spicy chorizo, sliced into 1-cm thick coins
1 fat garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp fish sauce (yes it stinks, I know, but it’s practically msg-less shellfish bouillon)
4 1/2 cups water
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 pkg (16 oz.) frozen mixed seafood, do not thaw
1 pkg (16 oz) frozen raw mussels on the half shell, do not thaw
To make the paella, heat the oil in a large roasting pan. Sweat the onion and chorizo on medium heat until the onions are translucent and the chorizo is browned. Add the garlic, paprika, turmeric, and fish sauce and fry until fragrant. Add the prepared vegetables and cook on high heat until the tomatoes lose their raw flavour, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the soaked rice and water, then season well. Cover and bring to the boil.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, with the rack placed in the lower third of the oven. Once boiling, remove it from the heat, stir well, and arrange the frozen seafood on top. Do not stir once you add the seafood!
Cover and bake in the reheated oven for 1 hour, or until the liquid has been completely soaked up by the rice. Turn off the oven and leave the paella in the oven to rest for a further 10 minutes, undisturbed.
Serve immediately with a simple herb salad.