Ahhhh, fall. Wasn't it just March, with the endearing hum of murder hornets and the crisp smell of forest fires on the horizon? Summer has someone flown by, and I find myself staring at all the hopeful spices I planted back in Spring. Thai basil, shiso, lemongrass, lemon verbena, and so many chives.
In these pandemic times, self-care is necessary and real, and for me translates to cooking. It was time to bring on the shellfish.
I brought the gorgeous Oval Roaster to the stovetop- the concave shape lends itself to stir fry and magically never feels too big or small. The footprint fits your burners, and if you need to finish any dish in the oven, makes a seamless transition.
I assembled some of my best friends: lobster tail, head on shrimp, cherrystones and mussels. From the garden, I scrounged up the last tomatoes hanging on, all the spices above, a few peppers, spring onions, chicken, chorizo, Spanish rice, some hearty chicken stock, garlic, ginger, tumeric and some Huy Fong chili/garlic sauce, lime and sesame oil. You could definitely substitute Chinese sausage for the chorizo here (I wish I'd thought of it!).
I took all the spices, a hot pepper and garlic and blitzed them in the Cuisinart with some sesame oil and lime. Because the lemongrass is woody, be sure to really blend it til there are no fibers. If it still feels fibrous, pass it through a sieve.
Now I threw the burner on high without any concern for my Cook on Clay roaster- it can handle it. I added some sesame oil, garlic and ginger to the pot and sauteed it.
Here I added a chopped onion and chilies to the pot, and sautéed them as well, and once the onions were a little caramelized, but definitely translucent, I took them out of the pan and to the side.
Then I came back in with my chorizo and skin on chicken thighs, well seasoned with salt and pepper. I let the chicken sit, so it could get some color, while moving the chorizo around. When the chorizo was done, I pulled that off and continued searing the seafood, while leaving the chicken where it was.
As the seafood was seared, I'd pull it off, and put it to the side.
Now I added the rice and sautéed it in all the oil and fond left in the pot. Once I was sure each kernel of rice was bathed in oil, I added the herb mix, and made sure it was dispersed well. Then I added the chicken stock back in and allowed it to come to a hearty simmer.
In a traditional paella, this is where you'd add in some paprika for coloring, but I went with tumeric, leaning into the Asian flavor of the dish.
From here, it was time to start letting everything meld together. Once I had a nice summer, I added in the chopped tomatoes, sauteed veg, and put the seared chicken back in. Its also the right time to adjust the seasoning- if you'd like heat, the huy fong sauce will bring a deliciously pungent kick, and a splash of fish sauce and soy sauce will bring in some umami and salt. Play with what you have.
As the liquid began to evaporate, I started nestling the mussels and clams into the rice, it was important to get them covered in the rice so they'd steam open.
As the rice finished up, it was time to add the lobster, the shrimp and the chorizo back to the pot, and I finished it with a few pea pods I found in the garden.
We finished the paella in our Cook on Clay stovetop bowls, giving each person a little of everything, but Cook on Clay pots are so beautiful, you could bring the whole dish right to the table and let everyone serve themselves.