One of my favorite cooking video clips I've been reminded of recently goes a little something like this:
TV Host Holly: *While tasting cheese macaroni* Oh you know, if you added ham, it would be like a British Carbonara
Guest Chef Gino D'Acampo: *visibly offended and bewildered*
TV Host Holly: No, it's true! If you add the cream and the ham...
Guest Chef: If my grandmother had wheels, she would be a bike! It is a completely different dish and recipe!
So it reminded me to add this disclaimer that this Tingly Sichuan pepper "Paella" is in no way a knock on the traditional Paella recipes out there but is instead a respectful fusion nod to this beautiful Valencian dish.
Inspired by the spirit of the Paella which according to Spanish food historian Lourdes March "symbolizes the union and heritage of two important cultures, the Roman, which gives us the utensil (the pan) and the Arab which brought us the basic food of humanity for centuries: rice," we wanted to also infuse our culture into this flavorful dish.
The two star spices in our tingly Paella have a lot in common. Just as Saffron is complex in taste and labor intensive to harvest, so is Sichuan pepper. But together, they form a fun symphony of bright and fresh flavors filled with depth and nuance.
So celebrate National Spanish Paella Day with us on Mar 27 by recreating this tingly Sichuan pepper "Paella" recipe! Here I've adapted Meghan's Fox and Brair wonderful recipe but tweaked it according to my personal taste.
- 50Hertz Red Sichuan pepper oil to taste
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp smoked paprika (mild or hot doesn't matter)
- 1g saffron threads (approx 1 tsp)
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp red chili flakes (½ tsp if you want less heat)
- 1 tsp salt (¾ tsp if using fine Himalayan pink salt)
- 1 handful fresh parsley chopped
- 1 large yellow onion finely chopped
- 6-8 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 3.5 cups chicken stock
- 1.5 cups Bomba or Arborio Paella rice
- 8 ounces coarsely sliced Spanish chorizo (dried and cured)
- 10 ounces shell-on raw shrimp (1lb if there is space in your pan/or if de-shelled)
- Heat oil in a large paella pan (or pot if you have a limited kitchen like I do) over medium heat. When oil is hot and slippery, add onion and saute until it's softened (saute for ~5mins but make sure it doesn't char). Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
- Stir in tomato paste until completely mixed into onion-garlic mixture
- Combine salt, paprika, chili flakes, turmeric, and saffron before evenly sprinkling spice mix in. Stir to incorporate.
- Pour the rice in and fry until the rice is completely coated with the "tomatoey spice mix".
- Once completely mixed, stir in 3 cups of chicken stock (reserve remaining 0.5 cups for step 8 if needed). Bring to a simmer.
- Reduce to low heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes.
- Add in the sliced chorizo and cook for about 5 more minutes.
- Arrange the shrimp on top so that it is covered by the liquid. (If most of the liquid has evaporated, feel free to add the remaining 0.5 cup chicken stock a little bit at a time.) Cook for 5-10 more minutes or until liquid is evaporated.
- Sprinkle parsley on top and drizzle some red Sichuan pepper oil over to give your paella a floral and fresh tingly punch. (If you are unsure of how much to drizzle, start with a couple of drops in each spoonful to test it out)