International Cuisine: Paella

– Heather Ah San & Maiko Ando

For my fellow FLUXer Maiko and me, food holds many great memories. It reminds us of the places we’ve been, where we’ve come from and where we want to go.

So, for us there’s really no better way to celebrate these memories and our love of food than with a cooking blog. Each week we will be celebrating an international dish from a different country (ok, Hawaii’s not “international” but it counts right?) by cooking a dish we’ve eaten there or that’s from there.

This week we’re exploring Spain. A Mecca in and of itself for foodies everywhere, but, to the geography-deficient America, Spain is often equated with Mexican cuisine and Spanish bullfighters in butt-hugging pants.

I traveled to Spain a few years ago with the same kind of preconceived notions of their cuisine and culture; to my surprise, Spanish food is hardly like Mexican food, and to my disappointment, there wasn’t a man in tight-pants in sight (except at the discothèque of course).

A mildly-dramatic 16-year-old, I was traveling with my high school band (only the coolest kids in school) across Spain, and instead of appreciating the scenery and slightly tourist fed flamenco dance show we were attending, I was moping over my boy troubles (never fall for a musician, kids) and spending far too much time discussing them with my friends.

Somewhere between the fifth and sixth act of the force-fed Spanish culture show, the heaven gates of the kitchen opened up, and paella emerged; suddenly my woes of the days past were blissfully forgotten.

No, I’m not just being dramatic – to me, food had that soul soothing affect. And for many Spaniards paella isn’t just food, but it is, in its history, something to celebrate, whether for religious reasons, or to bring people together.

So needless to say, this week Maiko and I cooked up some lovely paella, and though it is known to be slightly pricey, by using cheaper ingredient options such as mixed frozen seafood, or canned tomatoes, we made the dish for around $27, or $6.75 per person for four people.

Ingredients:

– 1 1/2 cup frozen seafood mix (shrimp, squid, and scallop)
– 1 lb chicken (we used drumsticks, but thigh or breast are easier to cut)
– 1 can tomatoes
– 1 onion
– Bell peppers (1 whole, or half of 2)
– Mussels (optional)
– 1 lb rice
– 2 1/2 cup water with 2 tbsp of chicken broth
– 1 tsp saffron
– 1 tsp paprika powder
– 2 – 3 tsp salt & pepper
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 tbsp garlic paste

Directions:

1. Put the mussels into salted water and put them aside

2. Mix the 2 tbsp of chicken broth and saffron into the water

3. Dice the onion

4. Slice the peppers into thin strips

5. Chop the chicken into ¼ inch to ½ inch pieces

6. Prepare a large, deep pan. Put olive oil and add garlic paste for flavor (turn heat to medium to avoid burning garlic paste)

7. Add chopped onions and sauté until brown

8. Add chicken and sauté until browned

9. Add tomatoes and seafood mix and stir

10. Add the rice into the pan and mix them well – cover and let sit for 5 minutes

11. Add the water that you made at step 2 into the pan

12. Add salt and pepper then leave it for 10 min with the cover on

13. Put the sliced pepper and mussels on the top of it

14. Put the lid on the pan and leave it for 15 min on low-middle heat

15. If you see the mussels are open, it’s ready to eat!

16. Finish off with a hint of basil and paprika on top and enjoy!

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