Friday 28 August 2015

Paella Mixta

Mixed seafood and rabbit* paella

*you could substitute chicken for rabbit

Serves 6-8

I cooked this for 11 people so increased the quantities by half and cooked it in two pans as I did not have one large enough.  I have used this recipe, or variations before and in the past have added clams instead of or in addition to mussels.  I have also cooked it with galera (mantis shrimp) which are common in the Mediterranean and Adriatic and much cheaper than langoustines, but not popular with everyone.  On this occasion I used only prawns and not langoustines.


75-100mls Extra Virgin olive oil
6-8 raw prawns & 6-8 raw langoustines (or 12+ prawns)
1kg fresh rabbit (or chicken or a mixture) chopped
250g small squid, cleaned and chopped in rings, preserving tentacles and chopped wings
2 medium tomatoes, skinned and chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
12 + mussels  (always prepare a few more than needed in case some have to be discarded)
1 small onion, minced or finely chopped
250g French beans, cut in 3-4cms piece
1 large green pepper, deseeded and chopped
1.75 litres of stock (use cooking liquid of mussels and/or chicken or rabbit stock
½ tsp saffron
½tsp sweet paprika (pimentón dulce)
3-4 peppercorns
750g Valencia (paella) rice
½ glass dry white wine or dry sherry
Small jar/tin roasted red peppers (pimientos del piquillo dulces)

Ingredients for cooking the mussels: olive oil; ½ small onion or 2-3 shallots, finely chopped; 1 stick chopped celery; a handful of chopped celery leaves; 2tbsp chopped fresh parsley; 1 glass dry white wine or dry sherry

To serve: 2-3 lemons; chopped parsley


It is helpful to do as much preparation as possible in advance – e.g. put the tomatoes in boiling water for two minutes, then remove skins and chop;

Remove seeds from green pepper and finely dice flesh;

Wash and scrub mussels, removing any dirt and beard (discard any which are broken or will not close) and leave in cold running water.

Heat half olive oil in a paella pan and gently fry two cloves of garlic and two bay leaves. When garlic has softened remove it and bay leaves and set aside.

Season the rabbit (chicken) pieces with salt and freshly ground pepper, gently brown in the paella pan and then set aside.

Very gently fry the prawns/langoustines until just turning pink – not fully cooked – and set aside.

Crush the cooked garlic and bay leaves with a pestle and mortar with 2 cloves fresh garlic, saffron, paprika, 3-4 peppercorns  and a little coarse sea salt.  Add ½ glass dry white wine or dry sherry, stir vigorously or whizz in a blender and set mixture aside.

To cook the cleaned mussels, take a fresh saucepan , add a little olive oil, heat gently, add the chopped onion/shallot and cook until softened but not brown.  Add the chopped celery, celery leaves and chopped parsley and stir in the full glass of white wine/sherry adding a wine glass of water, bring to the boil and add mussels.  Put on lid and cook for a few minutes, gently shaking the pan. After 2-3 minutes the mussels should have opened.  Discard any that won’t open with a little further cooking.  Remove, cover and set aside the cooked mussels.  Strain and preserve the cooking liquid (any sand/grit should have sunk to the bottom of the pan so leave the liquid at the bottom of the pan when straining).

Gently sauté the squid rings, tentacles and chopped wings for a few minutes in the paella pan then add the green beans.

Add chopped tomatoes, continue frying for a minute or two then add the minced onion and chopped green pepper and fry for a further two minutes, then add remaining olive oil.

Add the rice to the paella pan and cook gently whilst stirring until the rice is coated with oil – it may be necessary to add a little more olive oil to ensure that all the rice grains are coated.

Take the reserved strained liquid from the mussels and make up to 1.75 litres with chicken or rabbit stock. Add this stock to the paella pan with the crushed garlic mixture and stir whilst bringing gently to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the rabbit (chicken) pieces, stir and simmer for a further 10-15 minutes.  Test that the rice is al dente.  From this point on do not stir!  Remove all but 6 mussels from their shells and add the shelled and unshelled mussels to the paella dish together with the prawns/langoustines and simmer
gently for  5 more minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Taste to ensure rice is cooked. If not, or if at any time before this all liquid has been absorbed, add a little more stock – but cautiously and do not stir.

Remove from heat, decorate top with strips of red pepper.  Leave to stand for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with quarters of fresh lemon.

Santa Pola
19 August 2015

Tuesday 11 August 2015


Llisa is the common name for grey mullet in south eastern Spain and they were plentiful on my last visit to Santa Pola – and very cheap. 

I bought six reasonably sized ones for a little over 2 Euros, which were enough to feed my daughter and her family who were with me.

I have an electric paella pan/all purpose cooker (multi cocina) which is basically a large non-stick pan with lid.  This dish could be cooked in any large sauté pan or frying pan that has a good fitting lid.

For the marinade you could use any herbs that you like or are easily available.  On this occasion I used some fresh rosemary and would have added some fresh fennel if it had been available, but I added ½ tsp of fennel seeds and a dash of Anis Seco. (Any dry aniseed liqueur will do e.g Pernod. Ricard, Arak, Ouzo etc but not too much as the flavour can be overpowering). If you don't like the aniseed flavour, omit the Anis and fennel and add a glass of white wine, dry sherry or dry vermouth and use whatever herbs you fancy, rosemary, thyme, oregano - the choice is yours. They all work well with mullet.

Some of the children are averse to eating things that are looking at them, so on this occasion I removed the heads before cooking!


6 grey mullet – one per person
Olive oil
½ tbsp chopped fresh rosemary ( or herbs of choice)
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp Anis seco or half glass of white wine, dry sherry or dry vermouth
1 - 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
¼ preserved lemon or thinly pared zest of lemon or lime


Have the fish cleaned and scaled, cut two or three slashes on each side of the fish, rub with olive oil and herbs. Put thinly sliced preserved lemon peel or lemon/lime zest in slashes and place fish in the pan with fennel seeds, and garlic. Fry gently for 2-3 minutes. Add anis or wine allow to bubble to boil off alcohol. Place lid on pan and cook on moderate heat for 10-15 minutes, turning once during cooking.

Serve with steamed or boiled new potatoes and a green salad.  An alternative to new potatoes is mashed potatoes - and try the mash with finely chopped preserved lemon.  Simply take the peel of a quarter of a preserved lemon (flesh removed and peel rinsed to remove excess salt) chop finely and mix it in with potatoes during mashing.

Santa Pola
July 2015



In England I was aware of only one species of grey mullet but in Spain have discovered several – and a proliferation of names!  The Spanish name for grey mullet is Pardete, but the name most seen in south east Spain appears to be Lisa or Llisa, the Thick lipped-grey mullet. Frequently, I have also seen Morragute (thin-lipped grey mullet), Galupe (Gold Grey Mullet) and a related species, Galúa. I am not able to determine the difference and as they are all excellent to eat, I haven’t bothered to find out. There are some other names in Spain, mugil or mujol which appear to refer to any species of grey mullet

At home, in UK, grey mullet is one of the cheaper fish and is excellent cooked simply with lemon, herbs and garlic. I have never understood why the British, surrounded by water do not eat most of the edible fish in their own waters. 
My brother and his wife were staying with us recently and they like “simple”, healthy food and this is a very simple dish which I am sure would delight Rick Stein because he, like me knows how good grey mullet  can be cooked simply with lemon, herbs and garlic. He has some tasty recipes in Taste of the Sea but here is mine.

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 whole grey mullet (1 – 1½ kilo)
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
1 -2 cloves garlic
¼ preserved lemon or thinly pared zest of lemon or lime
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2-3 tbsp Olive oil


Take a large piece of foil large enough to wrap the fish. Make a marinade with the olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, chopped oregano and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If you are using preserved lemons you may wish to omit or reduce the salt as the preserved lemons will be very salty. (I have prepared a separate blog and recipe for preserved lemons).

Make  deep slashes on each side of the fish, about 2 ins/25 cms apart and rub the outside and body cavity with the marinade working into the slashes. Any excess marinade should be put in the cavity.

If using preserved lemons, take a quarter of one preserved lemon, remove all flesh and discard. Rinse the remaining skin to remove excess salt and slice finely. Push the thinly sliced preserved lemon (or zest of lemon/lime if you do not have preserved lemons) into each slash and place remainder in body cavity.

Wrap loosely in the foil and leave in the fridge for ½ -1 hour. Unlike meat, fish does not need a lengthy marinade process as the purpose is only to impart the flavours not to tenderise.

Place the parcel in a roasting tray in a pre-heated oven, 180C and bake for 30-45 minutes depending on size of the fish. Check after 30 minutes to see if fish is cooked – it should be opaque and flaky if not fully cooked, cover again and continue cooking. When cooked, open foil and  leave for a further 5 minutes uncovered and then serve with any juices and a sprinkling of fresh parsley with steamed new potatoes.

Hove UK
May 2015