This is a great weekend dish that is relatively easy to make and looks amazing when brought to the table with all its fabulous colours. The key to a good paella is not to stir it. Shake the pan occasionally to prevent sticking.
Wine Suggestion: We started with a glass of dry Hidalgo Napoleon Amontillado sherry followed by an old, but wonderfully youthful and fresh, Dehesa la Granja 14 1998 a Tempranillo from close to the Portuguese border in Castilla. The 14 refers to the minimum amount of time it is held by Alejandro Fernandez in his underground caverns on this property before release. At 18 years old it was delicious proof of the ageworthiness of this unique estate and its elegance and refined fruit didn’t overwhelm the monkfish.
Monkfish rice with saffron (Paella de rape con azafrán) – serves 4 as a main or 6 as a starter
- 7 tbsp olive oil
- 400g monkfish fillets, trimmed and cut into bit-size pieces
- 2 large Spanish onions, finely chopped
- 2 green peppers, halved, seeded and finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- 800ml hot fish stock (buy it fresh at your fishmongers)
- 1 tsp saffron threads
- 250g calasparra (paella) rice
- 80ml white wine or fino sherry
- 1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- ½ tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
- 225g piquillo peppers, torn into strips (we buy the brand Navarrico)
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a 30-40cm paella pan or frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the monkfish and toss gently to fry until slightly undercooked in the centre. Remove the monkfish and any juices to a bowl and set aside.
Wipe the pan clean with kitchen paper and put back onto the heat. Add the rest of the olives oil and heat until hot, then add the onions and peppers, and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Turn the heat to medium, add the garlic and the fennel seeds, and cook for 10 minutes or until coloured and sweet. Meanwhile, bring the stock to the boil in a separate saucepan. Add the saffron, then take off the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
Add the rice to the paella pan and stir for a minute to coat with the oil and vegetables. (You can prepare the dish up to this point before your guests arrive. The recipe will take about 20 minutes to finish.)
Put the heat to medium-high and add the wine/sherry to the pan, followed by the hot stock. Add half the parsley and the paprika and season generously with salt and pepper. Do not stir the rice after this point. Simmer for 10 minutes or until there is just a little liquid above the rice. Spread the monkfish and its juices out across the top of the rice and gently push each piece of fish into the liquid. Gently shake the pan to prevent sticking and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook for 5 minutes or until there is just a little liquid left at the bottom of the rice. Turn the heat off and cover the dish tightly with foil. Leave to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.
Decorate with strips of piquillo peppers, the rest of the parsley and the lemon. Serve with a salad if you like.
(Original recipe from Moro: The Cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark, Ebury Press, 2001.)