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It's an hour-long appetite-rousing show.

It's an hour-long appetite-rousing show

The methodology may cross cultures, but cooking paella in a wok has merit. The Rast family of Mission Hills, California, mastered the technique on a grand scale for the garden cooking spectacle shown above. You might like to do the same for 6 to 8 as we show at left.

The curved shape of the wok has advantages over the flat-bottomed paella pan, especially when you cook outdoors. The bowl rests comfortably in a barbecue, on a camp stove, or on an improvised campfire of bricks, briquets, and foil. The shape makes stirring easy, heat more controllable. Cooking the paella this way is an hour-long, appetite-rousing show.

Stave off hunger with tapas-style tidbits: salted almonds, oil-cured olives, honeydew melon wrapped in prosciutto, and feta cheese with unsalted crackers. Finish the meal with fruit, chocolates, and a cream sherry.

Paella in the garden

Arrange paella ingredients on ice in trays to keep fresh outdoors. Cooking with an audience invites kibitzing.


Patio Paella

Green Salad French Bread

Sangria Orange Juice Dry Sherry

Grapes Strawberries on the Stem

Chocolate Bonbons Cream Sherry

Size up your equipment and garden, then decide which fueling system to use: barbecue, camp stove, or improvised campfire. For seasoning, use real saffron--not "saffron threads' from safflowers.

Patio Paella on the Barbecue

3/4 pound linguisa sausage, sliced diagonally 1/2 inch thick

1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs, cut in half along bone

Bell pepper sauce (recipe follows)

2 1/2 cups short-grain pearl rice

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/4 teaspoon ground saffron or 1/2 teaspoon whole saffron

1 1/2 quarts regular-strength chicken broth

1 1/2 pounds firm-textured white fish (in 1-in. chunks), giant squid steaks (in 1/4-in. strips), or medium-size shrimp (shelled and deveined); use all of one or a mixture of the fish

Shellfish (choices follow)

2/3 cup frozen petite peas

2 lemons, each cut into 6 wedges

Mound and ignite 50 charcoal briquets on fire grate of a barbecue (at least 22 in. wide) with lid; open dampers. When coals are lightly covered with gray ash, about 30 minutes, push them out to form a circle just large enough to accommodate a metal wok stand in the center.

To maintain heat, scatter 12 briquets over coals now and every 30 minutes until directed otherwise.

Set a 2-handled 14- to 16-inch wok onto the stand (if you have a wok with 1 handle, see alternative method at right).

Add linguisa to wok; with tongs or a long-handled slotted spoon, stir frequently and push sausage slices up sides of wok where pan is hottest until meat is brown on all sides, about 1 minute. Lift from wok onto a plate; leave fat in pan.

Add chicken to wok, turning to coat in fat, then push up onto wok sides. Turn frequently until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Lift from wok; put with sausage.

Add bell pepper sauce to wok; stir frequently until peppers soften. Add rice, turmeric, saffron. Stir frequently until rice begins to turn opaque, about 10 minutes. Add broth. Stir often for 10 minutes.

Lay chicken and sausage (with any juices), white fish (squid or shrimp), and shellfish on rice. Scatter peas on fish. Add no more briquets. Cover barbecue, close dampers; let paella cook until rice is tender to bite and bivalves are open, about 20 minutes. Remove lid. If coals are almost extinguished, push as far from wok as possible. If coals are still hot, lift wok and stand from barbecue and set on a counter to serve. Squeeze lemon to taste onto individual portions. Serves 6 to 8.

Bell pepper sauce. In a bowl, mix 1/4 cup chopped onion, 1 small green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch slices; 1 large ripe tomato, seeded, cored, diced; 1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed.

Shellfish. Purchase 2 1/2 pounds total of 1 kind or combine any of the following.

Spiny lobster. Buy cooked tails or whole lobster. Rinse shells. Twist tail off whole lobster, reserving head section to use for decoration. With scissors, snip out the underside shell of the tail. Pull meat free, slice into 1/2-inch pieces, return to shell.

Dungeness crab. Buy in the shell cooked, cleaned, and cracked.

Clams (suitable for steaming) or mussels. Scrub shells under running water; pull off mussel beards.

Cooking alternatives

If you have a wok with 1 handle, it won't nestle into a barbecue. Equipped with a 1-handled or 2-handled wok, you can cook paella on a camp stove or an improvised campfire of charcoal briquets.

To cook paella on a camp stove, follow preceding directions, but use high heat until you add fish; then turn to low and cover wok with its lid.

To cook paella on a briquet campfire, lay an 18-inch square of heavy foil flat in a wind-sheltered spot on gravel, sand, or bare earth. In the center of the foil, set 3 bricks, narrow sides down, in a Y formation (bricks should stand about 4 in. high). Arrange bricks so there is a 3-inch-diameter hole in center.

Mound and ignite 60 charcoal briquets in center of foil. When covered lightly with gray ash, about 30 minutes, push briquets out of center and mound into spaces between bricks (you don't want coals under center of pan). Add 12 briquets to coals, then add 12 more briquets every 30 minutes you cook to maintain temperature. Center wok on bricks and follow preceding directions for paella. Cover wok with lid when you add fish.

Photo: Paella in a wok (left) nestled in a barbecue is showy way to cook for 6 to 8. Idea comes from the Rast family, above. They feed 30 from commercial wok resting on concrete blocks
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:Jul 1, 1986
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