Fifty eight years after my Oma and Opa freshly arrived off the boat, I was cooking up a Paella in honor of my heritage.
In the semi-finals of the World Cup my boyfriend (whose team is England anyways) contested there was no way the Dutch would beat Germany but when they did it was on! He went with Spain believing they were the better team, had more interesting names to announce and had the best goalie in the world. Our wager began at $5 then he suggested that if Spain won I would have to make him Paella, since he still remembered the flavorful medley he experienced for the first time in 2001 with his brother in San Sebastian. I on the other hand whole-heatedly thought my tangerine team would win and I imagined my man in the kitchen with an apron cookin up croquettes for me. Guess not.... Soon after the game ended I ventured down to Granville Island to stock up on some essentials. I got approx. 100 grams of both prawns and mussels from Seafood City and 4 spicy sausages from Oyama Sasuage. The rest I collected from all over but they key ingredient (saffron) was from South China Seas.
Chicken (cut in squares)
Spicy Sausage (sliced into cylindrical nuggets)
Prawns (leave the head on some for presentation)
Mussels (leave some on the half shell for presentation)
Salt and Pepper
The trick to this is having everything chopped up and ready to go before hand... Essentially you will have 3 elements going at once.
Element 1 - Get your brown rice going in the chicken stock.
Element 2 - Mussels. Rinse and wash your mussels then put them in a pot with water, heat them up until they are open. Make sure and discard the unopened ones since they could make you toss your cookies :( The mussels only take about 15 mins.
Element 3 - A big busy wok... Drizzle some olive oil in the wok with the onions and let them caramelize a bit. Then add the chicken for a few minutes followed by the sausage (this is your chance to start getting the majority of the steamed mussels out of their shell). Once those meats are nice and browned add in the garlic, peas, tomatoes, red peppers and a generous pinch of saffron. Fold together a few times and add your pot of rice to the mix along with fresh lemon and steamed mussel juices. You're almost there! Toss the peeled and bug eyed shrimp on top and cover with a lid so they can get comfortable... Once the shrimplets are warmed up start orchestrating the placement of the mussels, lemons and parsley. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and take delight in this challenging dish you have created. My guests were in heaven and my man said it was better than the one he had in Spain!