Lovely Fish Paella

There are plenty of foods ( of ’em I fink) that I find it possible to sit dreaming about during the day as I look forward to my meal that evening. Plain white rice isn’t one of them. I’d much rather have a potato. BUT there are three rice dishes that I adore, and they’re all on the comforting side of the spectrum.  No dry tasteless bits of starch here. One is kedgeree, which I posted about recently, the second is risotto, which we’ll post about soon. The third is this ‘ere paella. It is, in no uncertain terms: lush.

It’s inspired by a fantastic recipe from Rick Stein. Actually it’s not ‘inspired’ at all –  it’s basically his recipe, I just alter bits and bobs depending on which ingredients I have available. Like a lot of recipes on this blog, it doesn’t matter if you’re not exact with the quantities or if you change things. Good home cooking is NOT about putting exactly the teaspoon of that and exactly the weight of the other or following a recipe like a slave. Mostly it’s about making it so that it tastes the way you like it.  I hope Rick Stein will forgive the mash-up of his recipe.paella ingredients

Some help on the ingredients:

1) You can use paella rice, or risotto rice, or some supermarkets have a cheap generic rice called ‘short grain rice’. Don’t use basmati, or plain white, or brown rice. 2) Use any fish you like. I made it the other night when a friend came over, and I bought some giant prawns from the fishmonger, and some salmon and cod, so it was a three-fish-dish. 3) Rick Stein specifies fish stock. I admit that the times I’ve been bothered to ask for some fish bones from the fishmonger and shoved them in a pan of water and made a 15 minute stock, this dish has tasted even better. But when I can’t be bothered or I don’t have time or I have no bones… I use the good old Bouillon. See here for our tips on that. 4) you can use red peppers in a jar that have been skinned for you, or you can do it yourself. 5) the smoked paprika is ESSENTIAL. The garlic mayonnaise is also ESSENTIAL. It will not be so lush without these.El Avion smoked paprikaServes two.


  •  2 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil
  • 1 onion
  • three cloves of garlic
  • ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika (picture above)
  • ¼ teaspoon dried chilli powder or flakes
  • 3 tomatoes
  • three inches of tomato puree from a tube (not essential)
  • 1 pint / 500ml of stock (see notes above)
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 6 oz / 170g short grain rice
  • ¾ teaspoon of salt if using homemade stock. ½ teaspoon if using stock powder.
  • 250g of chunky fish such as monkfish, salmon, cod, prawns, hake, haddock. A mixture or just one kind – do whatever you like!


First roast the red peppers. To roast a red pepper, see this post here.  Or get the jar of ready-skinned peppers out of the cupboard and wonder how much cheaper it would have been to do it yourself.

Chop the onion quite finely and cook in the oil until soft. Add the chopped garlic, the paprika and the chilli. Then do this to the tomatoes:

grated tomatoYou’re grating it. Yep. you’re left with the skin in your hand which you don’t want in the sauce. It’s really satisfying. Add the tomato pulp to the onions, and the tomato puree if you have some. The only reason I add puree is that if you’re making this in winter and all tomatoes in the shops are from other countries (mostly Holland and Morocco) then quite honestly they don’t taste of much.  In summer when the UK tomatoes start arriving in the shops it’s a whole different story…tomatoes for paellaOn the left is what it looks like at this point. Add the stock and the salt, and now it looks like the picture on the right. Bring this to the boil, then tip the rice in, give it a stir and let it cook on a low-level boil (simmer) for 5 minutes. Then turn down the heat and put the pieces of red pepper on the top. Let it cook with the lid on, on a low-ish heat, for about half an hour. Rick Stein says 12 minutes, but Mr Stein that ain’t enough time. Check it every so often, there should be some bubbles arriving on the surface but you don’t want it all agitated and boil-y. Taste a bit of rice after half an hour and see if it’s done. If it looks like the bottom of the pan has dried out and the rice has soaked up all the liquid but the rice is still a bit hard, slop a cupful of boiling water over the whole thing, shake it down a bit and let it cook for more time.

It is very well behaved.

Now you have two choices with the fish. You can fry it like this in a bit of butter and oil for a few minutes:

Salmon and MonkfishOr  you can simply lie it on top of the cooking paella, skin side up, and let it steam in the heat from the rice. This is the same principal as my tip on cooking the haddock in kedgeree. Either way you don’t need to cook the fish until the last 7-1o minutes of the rice cooking time. So wait until the rice is pretty much done before doing either.  

You must serve this with garlic mayonnaise. It is just the BEST combination ever. It’s not the most elegant, but it is some of the most delicious food ever. 

paella at home

A rather impromptu photo, not exactly styled exquisitely, but I was much more keen on starting to eat it than I was in making it look good for you lot. 



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