Arros QD is top Spanish chef Quique Dacosta's Fitzrovia restaurant and it specialises in paella. The team there are getting ready to launch a new alfresco terrace in April and in the run-up to that, they're sharing with us one of their recipes. As you can imagine, they know a thing or two about paella, so here's a chance to learn from the best.
Before we get started, here are some general paella tips from their head chef Richard de la Cruz:
- The stock is key! It is very important before you pour the stock in the paella pan to make sure the stock is absolutely full of flavour and tastes just right - this is going to be the key element of the paella, so don't scrimp on it!
- Good stock is vital for a good paella, but choosing the right rice is of the utmost importance too. Good rice absorbs the stock properly and helps conduct flavour. Use rice from the DO of Valencia - rice here is the best quality. Try to find senia, bomba or albufera rice.
- Keep track of the time! At Arros we use 1200ml of stock and 240gr of rice, and from the moment we add the stock we start the 20-minute countdown. This is all the time that takes for the rice to be cooked, and not a minute longer!
- You can also cook a brilliant paella on the barbecue. In fact, I'd recommend it. We cook our paellas at Arros over fire. It contributes smokiness and flavours of orange and vines from the wood we use. It’s best to start over larger chunks of silver birch or similar, and when it’s time to make the socarrat, add smaller pieces of wood to the fire, such as grape vine trimmings, which will make the fire stronger and bring up the temperature for that all-important crispy base.
With that in mind - here's their recipe for Mediterranean Rice.
First, make the tomato sofrito
- 600g grated tomato
- 30g finely chopped garlic
- 100g finely chopped onion
- 180ml extra virgin olive oil
- 3g smoked paprika
- Pinch of saffron
Turn the heat on to medium and add the oil to the pan. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic and cook until they become translucent.
Make some space in the pan, add the smoked paprika and toast it for a few seconds.
Blend well into the mix.
Repeat the same process with the saffron. Let it cook for one minute and stir where necessary.
Add the grated tomato, mix well, and cook until the tomato water evaporates, and the mix has a consistency of a thick paste.
Sieve the sofrito and keep the oil in a separate container
Next, the traditional aioli
- 600ml vegetable oil
- 1 whole egg
- 20g raw garlic paste
- 330ml olive oil
- Pinch of salt
Place all the ingredients except the oil into a blender and mix it at the highest speed for a minute. Add the oil slowly until the mix has the same consistency as mayonnaise. Store it in a piping bag in the fridge.
Now use both of those in the paella recipe
- 240g Bomba rice
- 1200ml seafood stock
- 50g tomato sofrito
- 30ml sofrito oil
- 95g diced cuttlefish
- 6 x Mediterranean red prawns
- 6 x sea bream pieces
Follow the instructions on the stock reduction tin, separate the amount needed for this recipe, and store the rest in the fridge or freezer. Simmer the stock in a saucepan before starting to cook.
Place the paella pan over high heat. Heat the sofrito oil in the paella pan, then add the cuttlefish and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
Add the rice and fry it lightly over low heat for 1 minute until the grain becomes translucent. Add the tomato sofrito, mix with the rice and fry for 45 seconds.
Pour in the stock, bring to boil and cook over high heat for 6 minutes. Season according to your taste.
Lower the heat and cook for another 7 minutes.
Add Mediterranean prawns on top of the rice and cook for another 2 min. Before serving, the last step is to make the socarrat – the crispy layer of rice that meets the pan.
Bring the temperature up to the highest heat and cook for approximately 3 minutes. Check if the rice has soaked up all the stock and let the paella rest for a couple of minutes.
And finally, serve with the aioli and eat!
If you want to make the best paella possible, enter our competition to win an Arros QD paella kit
More about Arros QD
Where is it? 64 Eastcastle St, Fitzrovia, London W1W 8NQ
When does it reopen? 12 April 2021 (alfresco until 17 May)
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