Less is never more…

That would be meta-physically absurd 😉 … but sometimes less IS better.

I love paella and make it often for friends and family … 17″ of steaming good saffron rice loaded with seafood, or lamb, chorizo, serraño ham, rabbit — all manner possibilities — makes for fabulous fare.

Some recipes save off great and the leftovers make for a tasty quick dinner the following week … other recipes, not so much. Seafood variations in particular really don’t enjoy being reheated no matter how gentle the attempt.

I’m just not willing to be denied calamari, monkfish, mussels and shrimp  on those occasions when we can’t (or don’t want to) scrap up enough dinner partners to justify filling a 13″ or 17″ paella pan. So last week I snared a 10″ pan from Amazon and test drove it Friday night while listening to a Tour de Tormé playlist featuring Mel and James Tormé.

The Paella Pan Is Here! The Paella Pan is here!

With my lovely bride — wine in hand — settled in and listening to the Tormé scat-fest pouring from our living room stereo, I grabbed my new toy and went to work on a scaled down version of Penelope Casas’ Mixed Seafood paella recipe.

Chock full of the aforementioned seafood (monkfish, shrimp, calamari and mussels), it turned out great! My math on scaling down the rice/liquid and aromatics worked and the rice cooked to perfection. With one exception, the seafood cooked up nicely as well and the overall dish was great — and just the right portion for two.

A word to the wise … if you plan to bring the small paella pan option to your kitchen, reduce the cooking times a bit (if recipe for a “standard” sized pan calls for cooking in the oven 8-10 minutes, figure 7 or 8 minutes with the smaller pan). The smaller overall mass of food will cook off a tad quicker.

The mistake…

My wife hates it when I do this, but I can always find something I want to tweak or fix after I cook a dish for the first time. We actually argued about it in this case!

You can probably tell from the photos, but to save a bit of time on a busy Friday, I selected shelled shrimp (tails on) for the paella — not a good choice. They tasted OK but ended up over slightly cooked … a bit tough.

Also, the shells add significant flavor to the base flavoring in the dish when you par-sauté them in the oil at the start. I know this and STILL flubbed the seafood counter decision at Central Market. In the end it wasn’t disastrous but it was noticeable … a rookie mistake that deserves some figurative culinary self flagellation.

10 inches of success!

OK, that sounds weirder that I intended … anyway Team Tormé did a “scat-tastic” job, and my first foray with the new down-sized paella pan rocked (shrimp not withstanding) … BTW, the Viña Esmeralda (bone dry Moscato/Gerwurz blend) was a perfect accompaniment for the seafood paella.


  • Susan

    “Argued” might not be the best word… “discussed” maybe! I just didn’t think the shrimp was as overcooked as you did…. Anyway, I thought it all tasted really good… a very nice end to a crazy week of new job training!

    • Anonymous

      “Discussed” does have a better ring to it! 😉