Mohamed Mansour Ismail Gadou, head chef at Jebel Ali Recreational Club’s Andalucia Tapas & Grill, says of his favourite ingredient: “The nora is a red, round pepper that is usually dried in the sun. It is a versatile ingredient and used commonly in Spanish cuisine. It gives dishes a distinct colour and flavour, which is slightly sweet with an intense aroma, without being spicy. Nora can be served fried as a side dish, but above all, they are used for the production of paprika powder, an indispensable ingredient for Spain’s most famous dishes such as paella, patata bravas and Galician octopus. Dried nora can be ground with garlic to produce sofrito, which is the basis for most Spanish stews.”
Paella de Marisco
1 large onion, finely chopped
5tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
Salt, to taste
1tsp smoked paprika
2tsp nora paste
A generous pinch of saffron threads
4 clean small squid, bodies sliced into 1/4-inch-wide rings, tentacles left whole
2 cups medium-grain Spanish bomba rice or risotto rice, or carnaroli
3 cups fish or chicken stock, plus more if needed
8 jumbo shrimps in their shells
Fry the onion in oil in a paella pan until soft, stirring often.
Stir in the garlic, and before it begins to get some colour, add the tomatoes.
Add salt to taste, paprika, nora paste and saffron, stir well, and cook until the tomatoes are reduced to a jammy consistency and the oil is sizzling.
Place the squid in the mix and cook, stirring continuously, for a minute or so.
Add the rice and stir until all the grains are coated well.
Note that you can prepare the dish up to this point up to an hour in advance.
Bring the stock to a boil in a saucepan. Pour over the rice, bring to a boil, and add salt to taste (even if the broth tastes a bit salty at this point, it will not be salty when it is absorbed by the rice).
Stir well and spread the rice out evenly in the pan (but do not stir it again).
Cook the rice over low heat for approximately 18 to 20 minutes, moving the pan around and rotating it so that the rice cooks evenly.
Lay the shrimps on top after 10 minutes and turn them when they turn pink on the first side.
Add a little hot stock towards the end if the rice seems too dry and if you hear crackly frying noises before it is done.
When the rice is cooked, turn off the heat and cover the pan with a large piece of foil.
Steam the mussels with a finger of water in a pan with a tight-fitting lid.
As soon as they open, they are cooked. Throw away any that have not opened.
Arrange the mussels on top of the paella.
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