Paella problem

Authentic “Paella"

Made a paella this evening, using my usual technique, but when we came to eat it, it didn’t taste quite right. Couldn’t quite put my finger on it and then I remembered that I hadn’t added any stock to the dish. I had just used some water. I was quite surprised by how much the stock added, and how different the paella was when it was missing.

Keralan Coconut Curry

This was a Keralan Coconut Vegetable Curry that I cooked. I cheated a little by using a curry kit from The Spice Tailor.

A delicately balanced, mellow coconut curry from Kerala. Its gentle spicing and layers of flavours makes this a go-to for those who love milder Indian flavours.

I have been using this curry kit for some time now.

I prepared the vegetables, for this curry I used onions, peppers, carrot, sweet potato, tenderstem broccoli, baby sweetcorn, sliced mushrooms and asparagus.

I add oil to a large frying pan and then add the spices from the curry kit. I used a new wok I had got for my birthday. I then added the prepared vegetables. This is cooked until softened. I then add the sauce mix from the curry kit and stir it into the vegetables. I cook it for five more minutes before stirring the curry a final time.

I served it with plain white rice.

Rice with Chorizo

I diced a red onion and a red pepper. 

In a hot large frying pan, I put some olive oil and I cooked off some smoked pancetta bacon. 

I then added the diced onion and pepper. When this was softened, I added 250g of paella rice. I ensured that this was then coated with the peppers and onions in the pan. I let this cook for a minute or so before adding a jar of paella paste from Waitrose. 

After stirring in the paste I added some chicken stock. Stirred once and left it to cook.

Before serving I added some chopped fresh parsley and some cooked sliced chorizo.

Time for Las Iguanas

I have been tempted many times by Las Iguanas, but have never actually got there until recently when I was in Birmingham.

Looking for a place to eat the choice available was a decision maker for the group of friends I was with. Las Iguanas as they have a large menu covering Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Cuba, and beyond.

The place was really busy, but despite not booking they found us a table.

I looked over the extensive menu and thought about what I wanted.  For my starter I went with the Calamares, crispy squid served with creamy aioli.

The squid was certainly crispy, overcooked in my opinion, but this was more than just squid rings, this was squid in batter with a rather garlicky aioli.

For my main course I went with the Xinxim. A classic recipe from North Brazil. Chicken and crayfish in our creamy lime and peanut sauce. Served with spring onion rice, shredded greens, coconut farofa and sweet plantain.

This arrived in two dishes, the spring onion rice, shredded greens, coconut farofa and sweet plantain on one plate, and a bowl with the Xinxim. 

Here is the plate with the rice and the plantain.

At first I didn’t think there was any crayfish in the dish, but it was hidden at the bottom. I added the bowl of Xinxim to the plate of rice. I did quite like creamy lime and peanut sauce and there was plenty of chicken. I would like to have seen more and bigger crayfish in the dish.

The rice didn’t seem to have much spring onion in it and the shredded greens were okay. I have to say I didn’t really like the sweet plantain, but having never had it before I couldn’t tell if this was representative of plantain or not. Something I might try again when I next visit the Caribbean Wrap in Bristol.

Overall I was a little disappointed. I think this was more down I had quite high expectations about the food, and it was just okay. I don’t think I will be going out of my way to visit Las Iguanas anytime soon.

Authentic “Paella”

Having upset Spain with my last paella, sorry Spanish inspired rice dish, I decided that the next time I cooked a Spanish inspired rice dish I would follow (at least) some of the unwritten rules of paella.

The end result I think looked quite authentic.

Authentic “Paella"

In preparation I diced a red onion, yellow pepper, and red pepper. 

In a hot large frying pan, I put some olive oil and I cooked off some smoked pancetta bacon. This isn’t in the list of ingredients in the unwritten rules of paella, so broke one rule there.

I then added the diced onion and pepper. When this was softened, I added 250g of paella rice. I ensured that this was then coated with the peppers and onions in the pan. I let this cook for a minute or so before adding a jar of paella paste from Waitrose. So another rule broken.

After stirring in the paste I added some chicken stock. Stirred once and left it to cook.

No prawns, no chorizo, just rice. Also no chicken either!

Time for something that was not as good as it could be

In my first visit to Manchester since September 2019 I was needing a place to eat dinner. I did consider going to Reds the barbecue place, but in the end decided that the last time I had eaten at Reds, in Leeds, it wasn’t the best meal I had had. Back then the brisket was a little dry. The menu had changed, so I couldn’t order the mixed platter with the short rib as I had done in Leeds. I then decided I quite liked the idea of tacos, but Chilango who did some nice tacos back in October 2016, tacos were no longer on their menu. They did burrito and boxes, but I fancied tacos.

In the end I went to Wagamama. It was quite busy, but they found me a seat. I looked over the menu and thought about what I wanted.

I wanted to have the shu’s ‘shiok’ chicken, turmeric, garlic and ginger marinated chicken, roasted and served on a bed of coconut and lemongrass dressed rice. pickled slaw and radish. chilli. coriander. caramelised lime. However they had run out of the turmeric, garlic and ginger sauce. This also meant they couldn’t do some of the other dishes as well.

In the end I ordered the teriyaki chicken donburi, this was chicken in teriyaki sauce with sticky white rice, shredded carrots, pea shoots and onions. garnished with sesame seeds and served with a side of kimchee.

It did look really nice. The chicken alas was overcooked and a little dry. It could have done with a  little more sauce in my opinion. I enjoyed the rice.

Alongside I had the vegan mixed mushroom hirata buns. These are two small, fluffy asian buns stuffed with mixed mushrooms and panko aubergine, served with coriander and mayonnaise.

These were nice and full of flavour. I also had a green tea which alas wasn’t hot.

Overall it was okay, certainly not as good as I have had at other branches.

I then went back to the hotel where I had a (hot) green tea.

Time for a Spanish inspired rice dish

paella

Well we call this paella, but I know it isn’t paella, but it was inspired by paella.

This is a regular dish in our household and this pan of paella was finished off at dinner time.

What goes into the pan, depends on what we have in the house and whether I have been shopping or not. If I am out of the shops knowing that I am going to cook paella, then I will probably buy some cooking chorizo, some squid, and maybe even other kinds of seafood such as langoustine or clams. This time was what we had in the house.

This serves about four people

In preparation I diced a red onion and a large pepper. Well actually I diced half a red pepper and half an orange pepper.

In a hot large frying pan, I put some olive oil and I cooked off some smoked pancetta bacon and a small amount of diced (dry) chorizo. I then added the diced onion and pepper. When this was softened, I added 250g of paella rice. I ensured that this was then coated with the peppers and onions in the pan. I let this cook for a minute or so before adding a splash of white wine (we had that in the fridge). Recently I have been using some Spanish sherry I got from Aldi for Christmas, but that was all finished off the last time I did paella, sorry Spanish inspired rice.

I then (cheated and) added a jar of paella paste from Waitrose. In the past I have used herbs, spices and saffron when making paella, however I do like the jar that Waitrose do as it does taste quite authentic and is quick and easy. Tesco use to do a sachet of paella herbs and spices, but they’ve stopped selling that now. I use to prefer that. 

After stirring in the paste I added some chicken stock. Last time I did paella I used a fish stock, but didn’t have any of that in the cupboard.

Stir once and then leave. 

I once got “told off” by a Spaniard for stirring my paella, so now I just as advised, leave it to cook.

In a separate pan I cooked off the remaining dried chorizo I had sliced, I also added some sliced linguiça sausage from Lidl I had picked in their Iberian week recently. In previous Spanish themed weeks Lidl have done some nice cooking chorizo which I have liked using in my paella dishes. This time though in their most recent week they didn’t do it, hence picking up the linguiça sausage. Not quite a replacement, but worked well with the paella.

We had some cooked prawns in the fridge, so I warmed them up in a pan with some olive oil and mixed herbs.

The prawns, chorizo and lemon slices were added to the top of the paella, with some chopped flat leaf parsley and served.

Overall, delicious.

Time for some seafood paella

I was thinking about some lunch so I made my way to St Nicholas Market in the heart of Bristol. I did consider getting some barbecue from Low and Slow, but they had a really big queue. In the end I headed to La Lola with a plan to try their paella. When I got there I was nearly swayed by the calamari, but said to myself that I was going to have the paella, so I ordered the seafood paella.

The staff were friendly and welcoming, and I took a seat by the window and waited for my food.

It arrived just a few minutes later, it looked great and was a decent sized portion as well. I only wish when eating in that La Lola would serve their food on plates (or in bowls).

seafood paella

At first, I did think there wasn’t much seafood, but as I dug into the rice there were prawns, mussels and squid. I did like the taste of the paella, which was delicious, though I did think it could have had less salt. There was a whole prawn in the dish which needed to be shelled, but they did provide a lemon wipe which meant it was less messy than it could have been.

As I ate three Spanish women came and sat down on the chairs next to me and started talking to each other in Spanish. I did think if Spanish people were eating here then the food must be pretty authentic. I know the staff are Spanish, but with Spanish clientele as well, they must be doing something right.

Will I visit again, of course.

Time for a Keralan Coconut Curry

This was a Keralan Coconut Vegetable Curry that I cooked this week. I cheated by using a curry kit from The Spice Tailor.

A delicately balanced, mellow coconut curry from Kerala. Its gentle spicing and layers of flavours makes this a go-to for those who love milder Indian flavours.

I have been using this curry kit for some time now. The Keralan Coconut Curry from The Spice Tailor is quick and easy.

I prepared the vegetables, for this curry I used onions, peppers and butternut squash. I also had some sliced mushrooms and spinach.

I add oil to a large frying pan and then add the spices from the curry kit. I then added the onions, peppers and butternut squash. This is cooked until softened. I then add the mushrooms and coo for a few more minutes. I then add the sauce mix from the curry kit and stir it into the vegetables. On top I then add some fresh spinach. This is then covered with some (crumpled) grease proof paper. I cook it for five more minutes before stirring the curry.

I served it with plain white rice dressed with black sesame seeds.

Paella

paella

Though I have been told that what I cook and call paella is not paella, in our house we call it paella. Outside the house, this is a Spanish inspired rice dish!

First I cook off some diced bacon (usually pancetta) in a large frying pan, or if I am cooking a lot in my large paella pan. I then take some chopped mushroom, onions and pepper and add that to the pan. Once the onions have softened I add the paella rice and ensure it is coated with the cooking oil and liquid. I always use a specialist paella rice in my paella dishes these days. To this I added a dry paella mix from Tesco. I also like the jar from Waitrose that you can get. Occasionally these days I will use saffron and my own selection of herbs and spices.

I then add fish or chicken stock to the pan, to cover the rice and then leave to cook. As I was told by a Spanish friend, don’t stir it (unlike risotto which you do).

Add some sliced chunks of lemon. I usually cook the fish (in this case just prawns) and chorizo in separate pans and add to the paella just before serving.