World Ocean Day was initially proposed in 1992 to celebrate our oceans and promote sustainability and a reminder to us all how precious our oceans are.
Being in Plettenberg Bay, right next to the Indian Ocean, i felt it was only apt to share one of my favourite winter seafood dishes – the Paella.
A little Paella history…
Seafood Paella is a rice based dish traditionally from Spain and packed with flavour.
Paella was the food of farm workers who cooked dishes of rice over wood fires, embellished with whatever ingredients they could find.
The dish is named for the wide, shallow pan in which the paella is cooked. If you don’t have one, a good frying pan works wonders.
Paella starts with a “sofrito”—finely chopped onions, garlic, and tomatoes or red peppers sautéed gently in olive oil. Sofrito lays the groundwork for all the flavors in the dish to mingle; think of it as the foundations of a great dish.
Here in Plettenberg Bay, we have a great store where they bring in sustainable catches daily through out the week from our shorelines. I went up and spoke to the one of the local fishermen who gave me a selection of West Coast mussels, calamari and prawns.
Sustainable seafood is defined as seafood which originates from a fishery or farm which could continue to operate indefinitely without reducing the target species for any other species in the marine ecosystem’s ability to maintain a viable population. A sustainable species should:
Not be a species that is regarded as endangered or threatened
Be caught in a well-managed fishery
Be caught using responsible fishing methods
Be traceable from “boat to plate”
Lockdown Seafood Paella Recipe
- 4 ½ Cups Chicken stock
- ½ Teaspoon Saffron threads
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 4 Tablespoons Good Quality Olive Oil
- 100g / 0.22 lbs Pancetta cubes
- 1 Large White onion, finely chopped
- 1 Red Pepper, finely chopped
- 1 Green Pepper, finely chopped
- 1 Yellow Pepper, finely chopped
- 2 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
- 170g / 6 oz Chorizo, sliced
- 3 Cups Short grained rice
- 1 Can / 14 oz Diced tomatoes
- 150g / 0.33 lbs Prawns, peeled & deveined – from sustainable sources
- 150g / 0.33 lbs Mussels, rinsed and scrubbed, in the shells – from sustainable sources
- 150g / 0.33 lbs Calamari, cleaned – from sustainable sources
- In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the stock to a boil. Add the saffron and salt. Turn off the heat and let the saffron infuse for at least 10 minutes.
- Cook the sofrito base – heat the oil over medium heat on top of the stove. Add the onion, garlic, peppers and pancetta. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes until the ingredients are soft. Add the chorizo.
- Add the canned tomatoes and give a good stir. Add the rice. Stir it altogether, making sure all the ingredients in the pan are mixed well together.
- Pour in the saffron infused stock and give a quick stir. Now, the secret here is to no longer stir this mixture!
- Let the paella simmer gently for 15-20 minutes until you can see the rice is cooked.
- Add the seafood – nestle the prawns, mussels and calamari strips into the rice. The seafood will also add some liquid into the rice mixture with all the flavour. Allow to cook for a further 10 minutes until the seafood is just cooked through.
Anna’s Tip – we lit a wood fire and I placed the pan onto the grill and put the lid on. This added a wonderful smoky element to the paella. Best eaten with good friends!
For the vegetarian family, you can use this recipe and substitute the chicken stock for vegetable stock and omit the seafood – it’s as delicious!
Happy Cooking! Keep watching the “Londolozi Lockdown Larder” for more deliciousness!