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Paella and Spanish Mackerel

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Hello Everyone!  Snow?  Say it isn't so!  It is definitely a good time for a bubbly pot of hearty comfort food, so this week we're featuring the Spanish dish, paella.  It's fishy ricey flavorful food that warms the tummywhole mack even on the coldest of Febrrrrary days!  And since we were already thinking "Spain" with the paella, we decided to bring in some fresh Spanish mackerel from the Chesapeake Bay.  These pretty fish are sold whole and run about two pounds each.  Watch out for their teeth, they look pretty rowdy!  mack teeth! For Friday we'll have some fresh Key West Pinks in, and it sounds like this batch will be a bit larger, which is always fun.  For local fish we have fresh wild Quinault River steelhead, fresh rock cod, fresh petrale sole, and some seriously fat Dungeness crab from the Nisqually Reach area (our ocean boat is stuck at the dock waiting for a break in the weather!).  Also clams, oysters and mussels from the local beaches.  Out of Alaska we have the Kodiak true cod and halibut and out of Hawaii we have ahi, tombo and mahi-mahi.  It's lookin' good around here, come see us! ~Kira Paella is a traditional Spanish party/family meal dish.  The original paella came from Valencia, Spain, where the peasants working in the rice fields had easy access to
really big party paella!
You can get a really *really* big paella pan!
Mediterranean seafood.  Traditionally, it's a dish made with saffron-soaked rice, fish or meat and garlic, but it easily adapts to include just about any ingredient that catches your eye.  We often like to add spicy sausage, and there's a plethora of recipes that include chicken, ham, bacon, walnuts, olives, capers, and a variety of veggies.  Anything goes!   There are some essential elements to a successful paella, so lets take a quick look at those: 
  • The Pan.  There is a special paella pan that might be handy to have if you're planning on making paella on a regular basis.  In fact, the word "paella" is derived from the Latin name for a shallow pan (patella).  Purists might be offended by this, but really, a cast iron frying pan can work equally as well and not take up an extra spot in your pantry.  (And if you're ready to invest in a paella pan you *must* check out a store in Seattle called "The Spanish Table", their selection is wow-worthy.)  The point to the pan is that it is wide and shallow to ensure that the rice is cooked in a thin layer. 
  • The Rice.  Plump and flavorful rice is a must and good paella rice will absorb the exact amount of liquid that you're cooking it in.  Short grain rice that absorbs flavors is ideal and we like to use Arborio rice (which is of course Italian, and would probably get me into trouble *again* with the Paella Police).  Using Arborio gives the paella a bit of a saucier texture and you're more than welcome to go with something that will end up with a bit more fluff when it's all said and done. 
  • Saffron.  If you don't have genuine saffron, you really can't get away with calling your rice dish paella.  Saffron can be crazy expensive, (it is the world's most expensive spice by weight), but you only need a little pinch!  Bucks on 5th has a very reasonable $3 saffron pinch that I think would potentially make two batches if you're feeling stingy, and this week we have their pinch bags in our shop for
    paella pack
    Paella Pack Contents!
    convenience sake.  If you're unfamiliar with saffron and you have some time, run it through Google.  It's a fairly fascinating spice that's harvested with tweezers, so it's pricey for good reason!
Once you have these three essential elements nailed down you can really get creative with your ingredients.  We're offering up Tony's recipe for a 'seafood only' paella that utilizes our ready-to-go packages of shrimp, clams, cod, calamari and scallops so read on for that!
Tony's Pescetarian Baked Paella
Serves 2+saffron broth 2 cups broth (fish stock or chicken broth or veggie stock.. it all works well!) Salt Pepper Seafood Seasoning (we like blackening)  Pinch of saffron (we have this at the shop this week, direct from Bucks to save you a trip!) 1 T olive oil ½ c chopped onion 5 minced garlic clovesstir in the rice! 1 cup rice 1 "paella pack"(approx 1 lb mixed seafood + ½ pound clams) Preheat your oven to 390.  In a little sauce pan, add a T of water and cook your clams on medium heat until they're open.  Separate the clam meat from the shell and add to your raw seafood pile.  Reserve the juice that has cooked out of the clams to add to your broth. Get your broth (we can sell you halibut bones to make this if you want to get fancy!) in a nice roomy sauce pan and simmer on medium high.add the fish!  Add saffron and season with salt and pepper.  In a paella pan, (cast iron or other oven/stovetop safe pan is just fine) add your olive oil and sauté the onions and garlic over medium heat until soft.  Add your dry uncooked rice (and a dollop more of olive oil if you think you need it) to the onion and garlic mixture and cook until just browned, about 2-3 minutes.  Add your seasoned seafood and fold to combine.  Spread out seafood and rice mixture evenly in pan, and then carefully pour the broth over the top.  Cover your pan with foil and carefully (don't spill it!) move to the center rack of yourpour in the broth oven.  Bake at 390' for 35- 40 minutes, or until the liquid is mostly gone and the rice is cooked.  Serve with a cold sangria or a Spanish red wine and enjoy! 

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