Daring Kitchen: Seafood & Artichoke Paella

Paella with a glass of wine

Talk about a challenge. I honestly wasn’t expecting things to go the way they did. From failed mayonnaise to substituting half the main ingredients, at this point I couldn’t tell you if I completed the challenge or not.

So what am I on about? It’s the 14th of the month, which means it’s time for a Daring Cooks challenge! This is my first one and also the first Spanish dish I’ve tried to make.

Olga of http://lascosasdeolga.blogspot.com and http://olgasrecipes.blogspot.com hosted this month’s challenge. She chose a set of recipes for a cuttlefish and artichoke paella by José Andrés, whom she notes is one of the top Spanish chefs currently.

When it came time to source and buy all of the ingredients, I hit roadblock after roadblock. First, no cuttlefish in sight, which honestly didn’t surprise me. But no squid? No frozen calamari rings? Nada. I wound up with a seafood medley made up of cuttlefish, squid rings, baby squid (cute!), octopus, clams, mussels and shrimp. It worked out and I have quite a bit of the bag left for later.

Next, no Spanish short-grain rice. I really thought my favorite market would have it, but alas, it was not meant to be. I wound up with a pound or so of Japanese shortgrain sushi rice, which I’d read earlier was what another Daring Cook used.

Finally, no fish stock. No fish heads either! I threw up my hands at this point and threw in some chicken-and-tomato bouillon by Maggi that I particularly enjoy. What’s one more substitution between friends, right?

Oy vey, I get really tired of living where I do — there is nothing available unless you’re willing to drive fifty or sixty miles and try four or five stores.

Okay! Now that we kinda have our ducks in a row, let’s get down to business. The recipes below have been adapted… heavily.

Let the preparations begin!

Making the paella is really pretty straightforward. The thing to remember is that Spanish rice dishes don’t take a lot of stirring like Italian risottos, so once everything is cooking along nicely, leave it alone!

Seafood & Artichoke Paella [printable recipe]

Adapted from a recipe on Made in Spain by José Andrés

  • 1 can 6 – 8 artichoke hearts, cut into eighths
  • 6 crimini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 70 ml white wine
  • 150 g frozen invertebrate medley, defrosted
  • 1/2 recipe sofregit (recipe follows)
  • 150 g (1 cup) sushi rice
  • 3 cups chicken and tomato stock
  • 1 healthy pinch of saffron
  • 1 recipe allioli (olive oil and garlic sauce, optional)

Cut any large medley pieces into smaller chunks. Cut artichoke hearts into eighths and quarter mushrooms.

In a large paella or saute pan over moderate heat, add a tablespoon of oil and swirl to heat. Add invertebrates, bay leaf, artichoke hearts and mushrooms. Saute until the artichoke hearts turn golden. Deglaze with white wine and add sofregit. Stir thoroughly. Add stock and bring to a boil on high heat. Add rice and return to a boil for 5 minutes1.

Add saffron and stir in well. Reduce heat to low and simmer for an additional 8 minutes. The rice should be a touch softer than al dente. Remove from heat and let stand before serving for 5 minutes. Serve with allioli.


  1. Spanish short grain rice is not stirred often as with Italian risottos. Olga recommends not stirring more than twice for any Spanish rice dish, this one included.

. . .

My sofregit came out very onion heavy; I would have preferred more tomato and less onion, I think. It smelled divine, however.

Sofregit Ingredient Preparation

Sofregit [printable recipe]

Sofregit is a fragrant Spanish red sauce composed of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and onions which sometimes contains peppers and mushrooms.

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 – 4 ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saute pan over moderate-low heat. Saute until all veggies are nice and soft. Taste, adjust seasonings as desired.


  1. This sauce keeps well and can easily be made ahead and frozen for use later on different dishes.
  2. I absolutely abhor green bell peppers and I usually don’t care for any kind of pepper in my tomato-based sauces. If you do, throw in half a bell pepper with everything else.

. . . .

Oh, how I wish I could tell you about the wonderful, thick allioli I wound up with. How I would regale you with tales of my wrist nearly falling off as I made this the old-fashioned traditional way with a mortar and pestle.

In actuality, it failed. Miserably. In fact, despite everything I tried (egg yolk, more juice, more oil, more garlic, a food processor!) it never actually got to the point of the thick mayonnaise it should have. I’ve made this before (in a mortar with garlic and salt, the traditional way) and I remember it being a terribly long process but this is perhaps the second time mayo has locked up on me. It wasn’t a problem with the recipe, rather it seemed to be just a problem with us. For whatever reason, mayo completely defeated me.

After both my husband and I spending most of the paella’s cooking time on it, I gave it up. The light was going, our tummies were rumbling, dinner was late as it was, it just wasn’t going to happen.

So, with a nice glass of chardonnay to accompany it for him and a cold glass of kefir for myself, we sat down to dinner. (And wound up with dinner theatre as cops went off-roading in the vacant lot across from our flat, but that’s another tale.)

In the end, I’m glad I made this. It was really pretty good and I plan to make more paellas in the future.

This entry was posted in dairy-free, daring cooks, gluten-free, recipes, rice, seafood, spanish, untranslated. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Daring Kitchen: Seafood & Artichoke Paella

  1. Jenn says:

    I substituted out the cuttlefish too, and used mussels. I actually didn’t even bother to find Spanish short grain rice…but I had some plain old brown short grain rice in my cupboard and used that – yours looks like it came out really well!

    • Cori Rozentāle says:

      Thanks! It came out pretty well, honestly, even with all the substitutions. I’d certainly make something like it again, that’s for sure. Short grain brown rice was one I was leery of using because I wasn’t sure how long the brown would take to cook — did yours take any longer to come together?

  2. Lisa says:

    Love the photo of the bowl with the glass of wine and that view, LOVE the melange of seafood you used (LOL@the ‘cute’ baby squid)and I love how you managed to improvise the stock with chicken and tomato. It looks wonderful..nice job!

  3. Simon says:

    Wow. Like how the wine glass turned out in your photos.

    Sorry to hear that your allioli failed. Even if it didn’t come together, once incorporated you’d get the basic flavour elements in there anyhow.

    • Cori Rozentāle says:

      Thanks! Gotta love HDR. :)

      Actually, that’s what we wound up doing. The failed allioli was still edible, so we drizzled a bit on top and enjoyed the garlic. I still wish it hadn’t broken but them’s the breaks.

  4. Well I used sushi rice and I used a seafood mix and I think I did a very honest job on this challenge. The good thing about the allioli is that if it breaks it really doesn’t matter you can use it neither way. Bravo on a good job. Cheers from Audax in Australia

    • Cori Rozentāle says:

      Audax: Thanks! The sushi rice worked out really well (though I admit now I’m tempted to make sushi with it too!)

  5. Jenny says:

    Lovely photo with the wine – just love the color! Sorry to hear about the failed allioli, but glad you liked the dish! Good job on the challenge!

  6. isa says:

    Beautiful photos!
    Your dish looks delicous!
    Sorry about your allioli.

  7. Ivars Avens says:

    Fascinating post Cori! Paella is one of my all time favourite dishes and we make it for just about every special occasion.

    I make the sofrito well in advance as I like to produce something almost the consistency of jam. I start by rendering some belly pork pieces (Latvian influence!) and chorizo (a salami type Spanish sausage) in olive oil. To that I then add smoked paprika celery, onions, garlic, red capsicums pepper and perhaps a little salt. Slowly cook till all the veg have disintegrated adding a little water now and then to stop the mixture burning. When done the sofrito can stand until I’m ready to do the paella. The only problem with doing this in advance is that I tend to scoff a fair bit in the mean time!

    If I can’t get Spanish rice I use arborio – works perfectly well at a fraction of the price. When the paella is almost ready I take it off the heat (which by then should be very low in any event) and cover with a tea towel to rest for at least 10-15 minutes. I believe paella is often cooked over an open fire in Spain: initially the heat is thus searing and decreases as the fire dies down and the paella cooks.

    I agree about stirring: once the ingredients are mixed paella should NEVER be stirred – you loose the wonderful crust that forms at the base which Spaniards consider to be the best bit.

    The best guide to preparing paella I have come across is from a series on Australian TV called Food Safari: http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipe/86/Paella . This produces the closest thing to authentic I have come across outside the kitchen of Spanish friends who were experts.

    I was intrigued by the allioli. Must confess it sounds too much like hard work and I just serve with lemon wedges.

    • Cori Rozentāle says:

      Thank you! Mmm, your sofrito sounds delectable and I just happen to have some chorizo in the freezer to use up. I think I’ll have to try that for next time.

      Aha, now there’s something I didn’t know — the crust that forms is why they don’t stir? That’s also my husband’s favorite part when I leave the rice on too long (and, unsurprisingly enough, his favorite part of the paella). Very good tips and don’t be surprised if you see those make another appearance when I get around to another paella! ;-)

      The allioli is very hard work and not worth it, I believe. The garlic was a nice touch in this recipe, but looking back, I’d rather have just used my garlic sauce or added some roasted garlic crushed into a paste.

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