Leftover mullet paella

This recipe evolved from the leftover baked red mullet of a previous extravaganza. To follow the recipe without leftovers, simply start by braising or baking a mullet or similar in oil or butter, fennel slices and a little wine.

  • Ingredients: cooked red mullet, as above. 100g paella or risotto (round grain) rice, several large bulbed spring onions, sliced, one medium courgette, diced, a handful of cherry tomatoes, a few slices of fennel, bell pepper, chilli and garlic; saffron, black pepper and salt. Up to 500ml liquid, to include cooking juices from the mullet, wine and water. 30ml olive oil/butter. Parsley leaves and a handful of frozen (cooked) Atlantic prawns, shell on, plus salty black olives for decoration.
  • Alternate ingredients: If not mullet, a gurnard or red snapper would be good too. Any sort of white onion or leek is fine. Spinach would be nice. A spoonful of hot sauce can spice things up, along with coriander leaves. Butter or olive oil? you decide.
  • Method: In a rice dish of this sort, stock plays an important part. Of course you may add pre-prepared fish or vegetable stock or just throw in a stock cube but here the flavour is built on the juices from the mullet cooked slowly with fennel and a little wine, plus the large amount of vegetables.
  • In a flat-bottomed heavy or non stick pan on a medium heat sauté the fennel slices, the spring onions, bell pepper, garlic and chilli in half the oil. When softened, add the rice and give it a good stir. (Do not overfill the pan with rice because it does swell and you are aiming for it to share top billing with the other ingredients.) Add in all the cooking juices and baked fennel from the fish. Then add the saffron, diced courgette and whole cherry tomatoes. Stir slowly but continuously with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, checking for any sticking.
  • After a while the rice will appear to have absorbed all of the juices from the pan. Now is the time to add 100ml white /pink wine and turn up the gas so that it boils. Then turn the heat back to medium and add water to the depth of the rice. Give a good stir, then cover loosely and leave to simmer away. Check the rice from time to time and when it is almost cooked add in the rest of the oil or butter and wedges of cooked mullet, followed a few minutes later by the handful of frozen prawns (washed). Garnish with fresh herbs and a few salty black Spanish olives.

Serve with a slice of crusty bread and more wine.

Something nautical to listen to? what about Sail on Sailor 1973, The Beach Boys, featuring Blondie Chaplin.

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