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This month we look at rice dishes including the traditional Spanish dish of paella. I recently went to a local fiesta where a huge paella dish was cooked for around 100 people and my friend said “I can’t even get it right for 4!” For her and many others, below you will find my step-by-step guide to the perfect paella, but you will need a paella pan. A Spanish chef will cook the dish from start to finish in the paella dish, but I found this caused a lot of spitting of the hot ingredients so I cheat a little and use two large saucepans for the preparation. This recipe is for mixed paella, but once you are happy with your consistency, why not try different varieties like a vegetarian or chicken? I have also added a few other rice dishes which are very simple to do!

Buen Apetito

Paella Recipe

Ingredients for 6 – 8 people

1-2 large onions

1 head of garlic

2 large peppers (1 green & 1 red)

Plenty of olive oil (not extra virgin)

1 chicken stock cube (use a fish one if preferred)

1 chicken chopped into small cubes

250g prawns

250g clams

250g calamari rings

Mussels (1 or 2 pp)

Large prawns (1 or 2 pp)

Yellow food colouring or saffron

Rice (short or long grain)

1 bag of frozen peas

1 tin of pickled peppers


Take a large deep saucepan and cover the bottom with olive oil. Add the diced chicken and start to heat. Stir in the chopped onion, peppers and garlic and fry gently until everything is cooked. Put to one side until using the paella dish in the final stages. Wash the mussels and clams, half the calamari rings and take the heads and shells off the small prawns and keep. Crucial is the amount of liquid used with the rice, so I work on a half mug of rice pp to a mug of water and little bit. Put 9 mugs of water into another deep pan and throw in the mussels and clams. Bring to the boil and continue until all the shells are open (discard any that don’t open) and set to one side for later. In the water, boil the heads and shells from the small prawns. Add the yellow food colouring (saffron is classic choice, but it is expensive and doesn’t give the paella colouring so most people use a food colouring). Add the chicken stock which will already contain salt so no more is needed. Once the stock has turned a deep yellow, use a colander to sieve out the shells and heads leaving a delicious stock.

Move to your paella dish which is usually outside on a burner, as gas rings are not big enough to cook evenly. Heat up the pan and add the contents of the chicken saucepan. Once this is sizzling, add the rice (4 mugs for 8 people). Stir into the juices and add the peeled prawns and calamari as well. Immediately pour in the yellow fish stock, stir and allow to boil gently. If the stock does not all go in at once, just cook some off and add more later. Never throw away the liquid as it is important for the rice to soak it all up. Cook on a gently heat, but no need to stir. Once all the liquid is in the pan, add the frozen peas, mussels, large prawns and strips of pickled peppers to make the dish look as attractive as possible. Once all the liquid has been almost soaked up (20-30 minutes) the paella is done. Some moisture should still be in the pan as there is nothing worse than dry paella. Place sliced or halved lemons on top and impress your guests.

Egg Fried Rice

225g long grain rice

1 clove garlic

2 eggs

2 tbsp sunflower oil

2 tbsp light soy sauce

Cook the rice in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse with boiling water, then drain again and set aside. Beat the eggs and set aside. Heat oil in a non-stick wok or large frying pan. Crush garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute.  Add rice and cook for a further minute. Pour in eggs and stir fry for about 2 minutes or until eggs are almost set. Add soy sauce to taste and salt and pepper. Serve while hot.

Special Fried Rice

225g long grain rice

1 clove garlic

150g broccoli florets

2 carrots

100g baby sweetcorn

2 tbsp vegetable oil

50g frozen peas

50g bean sprouts

2-3 tbsp light soy sauce

Cook the rice in a pan of boiling water for 8 minutes. Drain well and spread out on a large plate to stop the rice sticking together. Peel and crush garlic. Peel the carrots and chop into sticks and cut the broccoli into small florets. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan and add the carrots and garlic for 2 minutes. Add the broccoli, peas, sweetcorn and bean sprouts and stir fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the rice and soy sauce and stir fry for a further 2 minutes and serve.

Caribbean Rice and Beans

1 small onion

2 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp olive oil

1 yellow pepper

1 tsp oregano & 1 tsp thyme

1 tsp allspice

225g long grain rice

8 spring onions

225g can chopped tomatoes

375ml vegetable stock

400g canned red kidney beans

Tabasco sauce

Heat the oil and add the chopped onions and garlic until softened. De-seed yellow pepper and chop, then stir into the pan with oregano, thyme and allspice. Add the rice and stir well before cooking for 3 minutes. Add peeled and chopped spring onions and tomatoes and their juice and stir. Add the stock and bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse the kidney beans then stir into the pan and simmer for a further 6-10 minutes or until the rice is cooked and the liquid absorbed. As an optional extra add a few dashes of Tabasco sauce to suit your taste. Serve.