I spend as much time as I able to each year visiting my parents who live in Spain. One of the things I love to do when there is go out for Sunday lunch and watch three generations of Spanish families gather around large tables to share enormous dishes of Paella. Think of it as the Spanish equivalent of a Sunday Roast! There are a number of varieties of Paella. For the purpose of the detox I have avoided shell fish and used monkfish, or ‘white rabbit’ as a friend of mine recently called it. I love the way that the saffron flavoured rice and red peppers mirror the colours of the Spanish flag. Buy the best quality fish stock you can, freshly made if possible, which is available in most supermarkets.
If you don’t have a paella pan (a 34cm pan is ideal for 4 people), you can use a large heavy based saucepan.
- 1 ½ Spanish onions – finely chopped (carb)
- 1 red pepper – deseeded and cut in half (carb)
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 4 tablespoons olive oil (fat)
- 5 cloves garlic (carb)
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- 250gm Callaspara or Bomba rice or quinoa (carb)
- 25 litres fish or vegetable stock
- 1 pinch saffron (approx. 20 strands)
- 500gm monkfish (protein)
- 1 lemon – quartered (carb)
- Generous quantity of green leafy vegetables of your choice (carb)
Pre-heat over to 400F / 220C / Gas 6
Start by heating 3 tablespoons of oil in the paella pan on a medium to high heat and when hot add the onions and green pepper and cook on a medium to high heat for 5 mins, then turn down the heat and cook for a further 10 mins, occasionally stirring.
While the onions are cooking, place the red pepper halves on a baking tray cut side down, drizzle with olive oil and roast for approx. 20 mins until slightly charred, soft and collapsed. Set aside until cool, then peel the skin away and cut each half into 4 strips.
Next add the garlic and fennel seeds to the paella pan and cook for a further 5 mins. Then add the rice and stir thoroughly stir to ensure each grain is coated in oil and cook for 1 minute.
You can cook this much in advance and then pause the process here if you wish.
Approximately 25 mins before you are ready to eat, place the stock in a pan with the saffron and bring to the boil. Return the paella pan to the hob, add the stock, a generous pinch or 2 of Himalayan pink rock salt, and then give the pan a shake to ensure that the rice is evenly distributed. It should form a thin layer over the whole of the pan. Then bring to a simmer and then allow to cook for 15 mins without stirring.
While the rice is cooking, if the fishmonger has not already done so, trim the connective tissue away from the monk fish and remove the centre bone, then cut each strip into 1” pieces and season with a generous pinch of Himalayan pink rock salt, freshly ground black pepper and a pinch or two of sweet paprika. Then heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a saucepan and cook the monkfish on a medium heat for 1 minute each side and set aside. Now is a good time to steam or stir fry a generous quantity of green vegetables of your choice to serve with the paella. I love either curly kale or cavolo nero (black kale).
After the rice has been simmering for 15 mins, add the monkfish, gently pressing it into the rice without stirring and arrange the strips of red pepper on the surface. Turn the heat down to medium to low and cook for a further 2 mins, then turn off the heat, cover with foil and allow it to sit for 3-5 mins to finish cooking and for the rice to absorb the remainder of the stock.
Serve with a generous helping of steamed or stir fried greens of your choice and wedges of lemon.
TIP: When not detoxing, you may add 75ml of wine to the rice before you add the stock. Allow for it to simmer and reduce by half before adding the stock.