We recently visited La Tasca, a Spanish Tapas bar at nearby Gun Warf where we ordered one of their “Famous Paellas.” We went for the most expensive at £12.95 per person the “Paella De Mariscos” which comes served with Patagonian tiger prawns, Galician Mussels, white fish, king prawns and squid. Mmm Yummy – we had waited all day to eat and were really looking forward to a tasty meal. Apparently it’s freshly cooked to order by their chefs and we had to allow a minimum of 20 minutes for this treat. To be honest, waiting 20 minutes for your food sounds pretty normal, right? Ahh, well we played along and ordered a pitcher of Sangria to go with it.
The paella duly arrived after the allotted 20 minutes or so. It looked impressive – it came served to the table in the traditional style paella pan. You could immediately see the “Patagonian tiger prawns” with their shells intact. I counted 4 mussels, and could see squid and other large prawns. The rice was saffron coloured and lemon wedges to squeeze over the dish.
We tucked in. But, oh were we disappointed! I make paella at home – Jamie Oliver does a fab recipe, but it was nothing on this. There was no meat – no chicken, no chorizo. The only fish pieces were the ones I have already listed above. The rest was rice, peas and lots and lots of peppers. It tasted bland – a bit like those packet flavoured rice mixes you can buy in the supermarket. Finally, to be honest there really wasn’t enough for two – we had to stop off on the way home and buy another meal!
Two days later, still with the yearning for the taste of Paella, I decided to make the Jamie Oliver recipe.
The ingredients were gathered :
400 g mixed seafood (mussels, peeled prawns, clams, squid, white fish)
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley
4 skinless/boneless chicken thighs
100 g chorizo sausage
4 rashers smoked streaky bacon
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 chicken stock cube
optional: pinch saffron
400 g paella rice
2 handfuls frozen peas
Then the cooking instructions are as follows (Nice and simplistic. The original found here or in Jamie Oliver’s book “Ministry of Food”)
Prepare your paella:
- Scrub mussels or clams
- Cut squid/white fish into 3 cm cubes
- Chop parsley
- Cut chicken pieces into bite size pieces
- Slice up chorizo and bacon
- Chop onion and garlic
- Pour 1.5 litres hot boiling water and stock cube into jug and dissolve
Cooking the paella:
- Large pan on high heat and drizzle oil
- Add parsley, chicken, chorizo and bacon and cook for 5 mins
- Add onion and garlic and cook for 5 mins
- Add saffron and rice to pan with pinch of salt and pepper and stir
- Pour in hot stock
- Bring to boil, stirring and scraping all goodness off the bottom as you go
- Put lid on and simmer according to rice instructions
- When is rice nearly done, stir in seafood and peas
- Squeeze juice of 1 lemon
- Cook for further 5 mins
- Add water and salt and pepper as necessary
- Lemon wedge to serve
Although, it doesn’t seem to have the ‘orangey’ colour of the La Tasca paella or the ‘fancy’ large prawns and shelled mussels, I can assure you it tasted 20 times better! Perhaps I needed to add a bit more than ‘a pinch’ of Saffron to achieve the authentic looking orangey hue. Just how much is ‘a pinch’ anyway?!
Have you been disappointed by restaurant food and know you could do better yourself? Sadly, I am finding this more and more. I like to go out and give myself a break from cooking once in a while, but when I come away disenchanted with my meal I wonder why I bother?