Sunday, 7 April 2013

Tuna and chickpea paella

Stay for lunch they said.  Lovely, I said, don't mind if I do! so, who made the lunch?  Shrug!

That's not fair.  The victims in this case were my lovely parents who allowed me to come and park my bags with them in the evening, and go out for the night with old mates from school... to return after midnight, grunt and go to bed, so to rustle up a bit of lunch with their ingredients was a pleasure.  Thanks M&D.. heretoforth known as "victims".  There was a third victim, she is also related xx sis.

This recipe was adapted from another one... and I tweaked a lot, but significantly increased the tomato, rice and chickpeas and decreased the tuna.  If I made it again (which I would) I would reduce the tomatoes I used, but would keep to my proportions of other stuff.. and as usual measurements are vague, so just adjust to what you have.

Olive oil (about 3 tbsp)
Tuna (300g) - in big "bite size" pieces.
2 peppers, 1 red, 1 yellow, cut into 1.5cm x .5 cm slices (ish)
celery, chopped, about 3 stalks
spring onions - 1 bunch chopped (reserve about 1/4 for garnish)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red chili (the nice 4 inch long shiny, a bit sweet one ... not the firey bird eye type) finely chopped - again reserve a bit for the garnish if you fancy.
1 carton passata (use less for a more authentic, less gloopy dish)
1 pint(ish) fish stock
250g paella rice
1 tin chickpeas, drained
good pinch paprika
pinch saffron

1.  Heat paella pan (or whatever you are using) to quite hot.  Toss tuna pieces, gently, in olive oil.  Sear in hot pan.  Don't faff with them, let them brown, and if possible crisp, on each surface without overcooking.  It should talk no more  than 5-6 minutes - but let them rest enough to nearly caramelise on each surface.  You are aiming for a bit more than "seared" but not much more.
2.  When all tuna surfaces are browned, remove to a plate and cover loosely with foil or baking paper (you want to keep a VERY gentle cooking continuing, but you don't want to steam off any caramelisation).
3.  Add a little oil to the paella pan, add chopped celery, peppers and onion (and any other veg you wish to chuck in.  Stir a bit, on a moderate heat, until a little softenned.
4.  Add crushed garlic and finely chopped chili (or crumbled dried chili, which might be more authentic), keep stirring.  It should look glossy still.  If it doesn't, add a little more olive oil and stir in.
5.  Add rice.  Stir GENTLY, until every grain is covered in a film of oil, and the rice has started to cook a little.  The change is subtle, but it changes form white, to more or less translucent.  The veg mixture will mask this a bit, until you are familair with it - but basically keep stirring gently for a few minutes - don't let it catch on the bottom of the pan.
6. Add passata, stir again, gently.  It'll look sticky quite quickly.  When it starts bubbling again add the stock.  Now stir it confidently, bringing the rice from the bottom of the pan "de-glazing" as you go. (stirring the stubborn bits from the bottom of the pan into the mixture).
7.  Cooking time should now be about 12-15 minutes.  The mixture needs to simmer for a bit, on a low heat, with its lid on. [insert grumble,  Mum - that paella pan is too big for just 4 of, no it's not, there's just a shallower mixture... etc etc... reality - I cook TOO MUCH - I used the lovely (and big enough) risotto pan, and still cooked too much, and in the wrong pan... yes well, I'm cooking it, and I'm trying to balance the flavours, and there are 4 of us not 2, and if we use less tuna, we can use more chickpeas....... etc  xx all)

8.  Add tuna bits... simmer 3 more minutes.
9. Leave to stand for 3(ish) minutes - scoff

with a green salad.

I enjoyed it - and gathered victims were unanimous (it's not family tradition to be vociferous) in praise.  So for my own judgement,  the tuna could have been cooked less -and more of a statement if it was in 1 piece.  but in summary --- BIG WIN!

NB.  From #5 you can leave to cool, and then pick up later ;) ... just make sure you have enough stock, so it doesn't all fry out

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