1 tbsp olive oil
400g Calasparra rice
2l fish or chicken stock, plus 250 ml if needed
salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
10 black mussels, cleaned and debearded
4 king prawns, peeled and deveined
4 baby calamari hoods, cleaned
2 bugs, halved
4 scallops on the shell
100g snapper fillet, skin and bones removed, cut into 2.5cm cubes
2 lemons, halved
150ml extra-virgin olive oil
3 large, ripe oxheart tomatoes
5 jarred piquillo peppers
8 garlic cloves, peeled
½ bunch of thyme, leaves picked
½ bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
1 bunch of chives, roughly chopped
1 tsp saffron threads
2.5 tbsp smoked paprika
To Serve: chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 To make the sofrito, place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. If you don’t have a food processor, roughly chop the tomatoes and piquillo peppers, and finely chop the garlic, thyme, parsley and chives, then combine with the oil, saffron and paprika in a mixing bowl.
2 Heat the oil in a large paella pan over high heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until transparent.
3 Stir in about 1 cup of the sofrito (use any leftovers in a pasta sauce or freeze for another time) and cook for 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the stock and season with salt and pepper, then cook, without stirring, for 5 minutes.
4 Add all the seafood, spreading it out evenly for an attractive presentation, and cook for about 13 minutes or until the stock has been absorbed and the rice is almost tender. Add a splash of water if it gets a bit dry. Reduce the heat to low and cook, without stirring, for a further 3 minutes to form a nice ‘soccarrada’ or crust on the bottom. If your hot plate is not as big as the pan, move the pan around a little during cooking to ensure the crust forms evenly.
5 Remove from the heat. If there is still a little liquid, cover with a tea towel and leave for a few minutes. Squeeze over some lemon juice and season to taste. Garnish with parsley and serve warm, not steaming hot.
Miguel Maestre stamps this traditional dish with the year, to remind us of its ongoing evolution. His 2021 version is all seafood and, as such, a blanco or rosado would be suitable companions. However, the sofrito adds another dimension - its spice, density and richness making a red (for me) mandatory. Not a tannic monster but a medium weight, umami-laden style such as the classic Rioja. Oak plays no part here with a partial carbonic fermentation lifting the fruit and brightening the wine. Serve cool to synchronise the red’s flavours with those of the paella.