Celebrity Chefs Recipes: Jen Biesty’s Seafood Paella

Photos: Vic Chin, Video: Vic Chin and Peter Ruocco

Paella is Spain’s most famous and cherished dish and I vividly remember my first paella when I was living in Europe and visited Valencia. With tons of restaurants lining the beach, it can be difficult to choose, but I hit the bomb with a tiny place serving an amazing rabbit and snail paella that rocked my world! The rabbit was served with both its liver and kidneys, and the snails were dotted over the top. The rice around the edges was also really crispy — it was rustic and delicious and I loved every mouthful. Now I bring the same love to the Bombas we serve at my restaurant, Shakewell in Oakland, California.

When we were coming up with the style of the restaurant I knew that it had to be food from Spain and, with that, we would serve a form of paella. But paella is generally cooked on top of the stove with the heat source below. At Shakewell, we cook ours in the wood-burning oven and so the heat comes from the top. So we named our version after the traditional Spanish-grown rice that is used, Bomba. It’s fun and gave us the opportunity to be creative and whimsical, and it released us from being restricted to serving classic paellas...it’s my spin on tradition!

Paella...Bomba...You can call it whatever you want. Make it at home, you'll love it!

Seafood Paella

Makes about 4 servings

Chef Jen Biesty's Seafood Paella
Chef Jen Biesty's Seafood Paella (Vic Chin)

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts fish stock
  • ¼ cup canola or olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups Carrot-Jalapeño Sofrito (see recipe below)
  • 2 cups Bomba rice
  • 2 pinches saffron
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • ¼ cup Spanish dried chorizo, sliced
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers
  • ½ cups fresh peas
  • 2 pounds little neck clams, cleaned
  • 8 wild white prawns, cleaned
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Aioli (see recipe below)
  • ¼ cup Spanish green olives, for garnish
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped, for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450℉. Heat the fish stock to a boil then turn off the heat.
  2. Heat a 10-12-inch paella pan on medium heat. Add the canola oil, sofrito and rice; stir until the rice is coated with the sofrito. Add the saffron and white wine, and keep stirring and cooking until the wine has almost evaporated.
  3. Add the chorizo slices, then pour in the hot fish stock. Add the peppers and peas; stir to mix evenly. Bring the mixture to a boil but do not stir again!
  4. Transfer the pan to the hot oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, season the clams and prawns with salt, pepper and olive oil.
  6. Remove the pan from the oven and arrange the clams and prawns on the surface of the rice and return the pan back to the oven for 10-20 minutes or until all the stock is evaporated, the prawns are cooked and the clams have opened.
  7. Remove paella pan from the oven and garnish with aioli, olives and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Aioli

Makes about 3 cups

This simple aioli is a great topper for Jen Biesty's seafood paella.
This simple aioli is a great topper for Jen Biesty's seafood paella. (Vic Chin)

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, grated on a microplane
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ cup canola oil

Instructions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, garlic, lemon, mustard, salt and pepper.
  2. Slowly drizzle in the olive and canola oils, whisking continuously to emulsify. Adjust the consistency with cold water as necessary.

Carrot-Jalapeno Sofrito

Makes about 3 cups*

The base of this seafood paella is a Carrot-Jalapeno Sofrito.
The base of this seafood paella is a Carrot-Jalapeno Sofrito. (Vic Chin)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups finely chopped carrot
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped fennel
  • 3 jalapenos, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped garlic
  • Olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Combine the carrot, onion, fennel, jalapenos and garlic in a medium saucepan and drizzle over enough olive oil to just cover. Cook gently over medium heat, stirring often until all of the vegetables soften and melt into the oil, about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir vigorously. Allow to cool.

*Will keep in the refrigerator for up to one month.

You'll be so happy after making this seafood paella at home.
You'll be so happy after making this seafood paella at home. (Vic Chin)

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