Tag Archives: Fish Dishes

Daring Cook August Challenge – Paella, paella!

My take on Daring Cook August Challenge – Calamari and Fennel Paella

Calamari and Fennel Paella

I have a thing for Paella. I just love it. Long before this challenge, this chicken and artichoke paella has been frequently served in our family (provided that fresh artichokes are around, of course). And I can tell you one thing; this month challenge recipe is a perfect winner as well! This dish will be our home favorite from now on.

Fussy I may be, but I care for my paella. Home-made fish stock is a must and fresh ingredients are important. Equally important is the right type of rice. I normally opt for Calasparra, which has smaller grains and perfect absorption ability. Calasparra is quite expensive in Australia, and you can get it from The Essential Ingredients.

The original recipe is Squid, Artichoke and Mushroom Paella. Artichokes are still absent from my local market but fennels are still abundant. Naturally, I have used fennel here and it´s absolutely beautiful.

Now it´s the time for confession. I have been absent minded lately (blaming it on work!), so I do not gather enough time and ingredients to make allioli. So, learning from almost all TV chefs that I know, I cheat! I simply mix crushed garlic with ready-made mayonnaise. Flavor-wise, it´s nice but the home-made version must be better for sure.

Read on for the recipe. I´ve changed the method of cooking here or there to suit what I have on hand and my taste.

It´s Friday night here in Australia and my brain is fried after a week of work. I am looking towards the weekend. AND I do not want to hear anything related to Bloomberg for at least the weekend!

Calamari and Fennel Paella

Calamari and Fennel Paella

Adapted from a José Andrés´s recipe. Serve 2-3 as main course.

Sofregit (tomato and capsicum sauce) – Prepare this first
2 tablespoons of olive oil
5 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 small onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Bay leaf
A touch of cumin and dried oregano

Put everything in a saucepan, heat and stir. Cook for 1 hour in low heat, stir occasionally until you get a saucy mixture. Set aside (this may be more than what you need for this recipe).

Ingredients for the paella

2 small calamari, cleaned and cut into strips
1 fennel, remove and reserve the top. Cut the fennel head to strips
A bit of verjuice
Sofregit, a few tablespoons from above (substitute with a good quality tomato puree if you have to)
1 cup Calasparra rice
3 cup of fish stock (Simmer fish head and bones with bay leaf, thyme, few peppercorns for as long as possible. Reduce to 3 cups).
Saffron thread (or a pinch of turmeric powder)
Salt to taste

Cheated Allioli: crush 1 garlic clove and mix with ¼ cup mayonnaise (the full-fat good quality variety!).


Add 1 or 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and put the cuttlefish in the pan. Add fennel and sauté until the fennel has nice golden color.

Add a touch of verjuice, then 1-2 tbps of sofregit, mix well.

Add all the fish stock. Bring to the boil. Add the rice and let boil for 5 mins in heavy heat. Next, add some saffron thread (or turmeric powder). Turn to low heat and boil gently for 8 mins or until the rice is done. Taste and adjust seasoning. The rice should be softer than `al dente´ but sill has some bite.

Let the rice stand for a few mins. Serve with the allioli, topped with fennel top.

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