So I'm happy to say that I'm cooking again. I returned to the galley last week when I cooked thit heo kho after seven years; prior to that, the only dish I cooked from scratch in the last six years was that pork adobo two years ago. This week I tried my hand at making paella, a dish that has always intimidated me. I was not sure if it was going to be edible, so I was very conservative with my ingredients (especially the saffron). Well, it turned out better than I expected. The rice was nicely cooked and very flavourful-- not bad for a first attempt. I could think of several things I could've done better-- I should've pre-fried the pork; I should've used a short-grain rice; I should've managed the heat better to get a good crust-- but overall I'm happy with this dish, and so were my Dear and the Boy. This is a gateway dish for me: plov, you're next.
Here is the recipe I used today. There are better and more authentic paella recipes out there, but this is the one I made today. It's my #achievementunlocked moment, so I'm saving it.
extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic, chopped
1 tomato, deseeded and chopped
1 spicy chorizo, sliced
1/2 kilo pork ribs, pre-cooked (braised or fried)
1 can chopped mushrooms
2 cups uncooked rice, rinsed (preferably short-grain like Bomba, Calrose, or Koshihikari, but I used long-grain Hom Mali and it turned out ok, quite loose and fluffy like plov)
pinch of saffron
500 mL chicken stock, simmering
1. On a wide, shallow pan (ideally a paellera), saute the onion, garlic, and tomato in generous amounts of olive oil. When you can smell the aromatics, add in the chorizo.
2. When you have a good saute going, add in the pork. If it's pre-cooked, just heat it up enough and get some good browning; if it's raw, slow down the fire a bit so you don't burn the other ingredients while waiting for the pork to brown. You can also season the raw pork with salt and pepper at this point. In the last minute or two of browning the pork, add in the mushrooms.
3. Pour in the simmering chicken stock and the spices (paprika, saffron, pepper, salt); any liquid you add should be hot to avoid drastic temperature changes in the pan. Bring to a boil.
4. Add in the rice, distributing evenly throughout the pan (you can also take this time to rearrange the ingredients nicely). Bring to a boil, then bring down to a simmer and cover. Do not mix the rice, lest you end up with a creamy, risotto-like paella. This is the part where it gets tricky. Ideally you'd have put enough liquid to cook the rice, but if the liquid runs out prematurely add in some hot water to compensate. I had to do this a few times-- not an ideal situation, but not catastrophic either.
5. Simmer the rice until done (about 15 minutes). Top with remaining mushrooms or fresh herbs and let the latent heat warm them up.
Garnish with lemon wedges or sliced calamansi. We ate this on its own, but you could also serve with some greens to cut the richness. Goes well with a dry white wine.
Paella #2 (a.k.a. plovella):