A stunning but simple Irish seafood paella
Prawns and mussels are the stars of this easy one-pot camping supper
Irish seafood paella
I’ve just spent the past week camping in west Cork – with white sandy beaches and no phone coverage. It has been quite the task having to pack everything a family of five needs for a week-long camping holiday. Between bikes, wetsuits, buckets and spades, there was just enough room for food.
I made a huge spaghetti Bolognese to bring with us, full of finely chopped vegetables, herbs and sweet fennel sausage meat, using O’Flynn’s sausages. We cooked burgers and sausages over the barbecue at the beach, followed by sandy s’mores and toasted marshmallows.
Paella was another successful dinner that we made with chorizo and green beans. It was the perfect one-pot dinner and one the entire family enjoys. Everything goes into the pot and an amazing paella is revealed half an hour later.
The recipe I’m sharing this week is a little more complex than the basic chorizo version I made while camping. Plump Irish prawns and mussels are the stars of this dish. The mussels are added at the last minute, and the cooking liquor gives amazing flavour to the dish, as well as the shellfish making it look so beautiful.
Years ago we rented the cottage at Loop Head lighthouse for the weekend, and I placed my paella in the oven for half an hour. We explored the cliffs, admiring the 300-degree views of the sea down to Kerry Head and Dingle and across to the Cliffs of Moher, then came back to the lighthouse to a huge pot of paella. The sea air only added to the dish.
It always feels like a special occasion when I make this, but it couldn’t be simpler. It’s very well balanced with rice for carbohydrates and mussels for iron and protein. It’s also very economical and a great way to feed a crowd. You can use smoky bacon lardons, chorizo or chicken instead of seafood, or use clams if you can source them. Make sure you scatter the finished dish with freshly chopped parsley and serve with a big wedge of lemon. The lemon juice really brings out the flavours of this gorgeous dish.
IRISH SEAFOOD PAELLA
20 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
12 uncooked large Irish prawns, shells removed
600ml seafood stock or water
1 large pinch saffron strands, soaked in 2tbs boiling water
2-3tbs rapeseed or olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2tsp smoked sweet paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
300g paella rice
1 small handful of freshly chopped parsley
Lemon wedges, garnish
1. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, then add the onion, chopped red pepper and garlic.
2. Stir through the paprika and season with a little salt and black pepper. Cook for five to six minutes, until the onions and peppers are softened. Add the chopped tomato and cook for a couple of minutes.
3. Drizzle in the remaining olive oil and add the rice to the frying pan. Stir to coat the rice in oil and allow to cook for one to two minutes.
4. Pour in the stock and saffron. Bring to the boil. Stir for a few minutes, then reduce the heat, cover with a lid or tinfoil. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until rice has absorbed most of the liquid, but the mixture is still soupy and the rice is soft.
5. Add the mussels and prawns to the pan, cover and cook until the mussels have opened and prawns are pink. Discard any mussels that have not opened.
6. Turn the heat off but keep the pan covered for five minutes to let it rest. Scatter with parsley, garnish with lemon wedges and serve.