There was an 8.9 earthquake in Japan last night and I want to thank everyone for your concerns. I just talked to my mother on the phone (5am there) after hours of not being able to reach her. She informed me that my family is okay. My friends are also okay although I haven’t got response from all of them.
I debated if I should talk about food when you are probably worrying about me and my family, but I wanted to take this opportunity to remind all of you to prepare an emergency kit or update your kit if it has expired. It’s better to be well-prepared than not being prepared at all. I pray for Japan to recover from this natural disaster soon.
Once in a while I enjoy cooking non-Japanese food, like paella. The recipe I share may not be labeled authentic because I use Japanese rice instead of Bomba or Calasparra rice. However this recipe allows you to prep the paella using the existing ingredients that are already in the pantry. Like me who once in a while cooks non-Japanese meals, but I don’t want to go out to buy ingredients I typically don’t use. The cooking time is based on Japanese rice I used and the method is my original. If you don’t have a paella pan, you can use a large stainless-steel skillet instead. You don’t need to buy a paella pan unless you cook paella often. I use my favorite red cast-iron braiser, which is supposedly not a perfect pan for paella because it retains too much heat. But it always worked fine for me and I like that I can bring it directly to the table and the presentation looks lovely. Enjoy!
- 1 tsp. Spanish saffron (I buy from Trader Joe’s)
- 3 tsp. warm water
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups uncooked Japanese rice (about ¾ American measuring cup)
- 1½ Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup white wine
- ½ red bell pepper, sliced
- ½ orange bell pepper, sliced
- 2 chicken thighs, rinsed and cut into small pieces
- ¾ lb sliced squid, rinsed
- 8 uncooked Tiger shrimp, rinsed (I prefer keeping the shell for retaining more flavor)
- ¾ lb manila clams, de-gritted
- 8-10 thin asparagus
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 green onions, chopped
- Lemon wedges to serve
- 4 hours prior to cooking, de-grit the clams.
- 2 hours prior to cooking, soak saffron in warm water and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 425F. In a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a paella pan (I use a cast iron braiser) on medium heat and add rice. Stirring constantly for 5 minutes, or until the rice is translucent.
- Add garlic and stir for a couple of minutes.
- Then add white whine. Let all the wine evaporated.
- Add the chicken stock and mix well.
- Add saffron including saffron water and bring it to a boil.
- After boiling, place bell peppers on top of rice.
- Transfer the pan into the oven and cook for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, take out the pan and quickly place the chicken, squid, tiger shrimp, manila clams, and asparagus on top of rice and bell peppers. Put the pan back into the oven.
- Cook for 20 minutes. After it’s done, take out the pan from the oven and sprinkle salt, black pepper, and green onions. Serve with lemon wedges if you like.