I am so happy to resume the activity here because I feel my bateries are fully recharged. 20 months without travelling back home is just too much time. Just think all the events you miss with family and friends, the quality time spent in visiting amazing places, the lovely food you can only eat during the days you are physically there… The pandemic has taken all of this away and you can’t figure out how hard it’s been for both me and my partner. For this reason, when we landed at Sevilla airport on 21st August we had the feeling that, despite the pandemic is not over yet, we were marking the end an era. Such feelings arose again when we landed in Barcelona, this time to visit my family. I am very hopeful on the all the travelling restrictions vanishing soon so I can go again as often as I used to before March 2020.
Yes, our holidays couldn’t have been any better. We spent the first week visiting my partner’s family in Sevilla, in the northern town of Guadalcanal to be precise. We enjoyed the sunlight, the tranquillity of the countryside and, personally, I took advantage to eat quality pork and wild game meat-it’s a must if you visit Sierra Norte. A week later we moved to Barcelona (to my hometown, Mollet del Vallès) and we went frequently to the beach after a very long time. Food wise, I switched to fish where possible and also ate Catalan traditional grilled meats such botifarra. Overall, a mouthwatering pleasure.
At home, I am always looking forward to the day my mum cooks her seafood paella. She is very good at it, but due to her work commitments we couldn’t find the day to taste it. Therefore, I volunteered to do it for her and I took the kitchen over for one day. I spent one morning at my local market buying the best produce-the fishmongers happened to be close relatives of former FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu. Back at home, it took me around one hour to cook it. All my mum had to do upon arrival was sitting on the table and enjoying the lunch. My dad, my brother and my girlfriend completed the gathering. All ended up quite satisfied.
This paella was cooked using quality local ingredients. To begin with, the rice is distinguished with the Pals Geographical Indication-Pals is a charming town in the Costa Brava, 80 km to the French border. All the seafood was caught in Sant Carles de la Ràpita (southern Tarragona) with exception of the clams who were from Galicia. You can still find these ingredients in a British fish market and cook a good paella. The only con is that cuttlefish is impossible to find here-and it’s a total shame because it’s too good not to eat it.
INGREDIENTS (SERVES 5)
Rice (500 g)
Fish stock (1200 ml)
Whole squid (1) – cut in dices
Whole cuttlefish (1) – cut in dices
Clams (300 g)
Red pepper (1)
Green pepper (1)
DIRECTIONS FOR COOKING
Cover the base of a paella pan with olive oil and sear the langoustines at high heat. Lay them upside and don’t turn them around. After 2-3 minutes, remove them and set aside.
2. Finely chop the onion and the peppers and simmer all together in the same oil. Add some salt and stir frequently for about 10 minutes (remember to reduce the heat to low).
3. When the vegetables are tender, chop the tomatoes and add them into the pan. Cook until the water completely evaporates. Add more salt afterwards and integrate well to get a sofrito.
4. Drop the cuttlefish and the squid into the pan. Cook briefly and add more salt if needed. When they achieve a pinkish colour, add the rice and blend it with the rest of the ingredients.
5. Spread the rice evenly across and pour the fish stock (make sure it is hot). Sink the clams under the waterline and place the langoustines on top. Boil at high heat for 10 minutes and then at low during 8.
6. After that time, most of the stock will be gone and the clams will have opened. As always, I suggest you to dry it in the oven at 160 Celsius for about five minutes. Alternatively, if your pan is not ovenproof, you can switch the heat off and cover it with a clean kitchen cloth during five minutes.