There are as many versions of a paella as there are chefs and families living alongside the Mediterranean coast of Spain. However, the one thing there seems to be little discussion about is that in order to achieve a great paella rice, the better the stock, the greater the dish.
Serves 3 litres Prep time: 5 minutes/Cooking time: 45 minutes/Passive time: 30 minutes Difficulty: Easy
1 kg Rock fish – such as mullet, scorpion fish or gurnard
100 g King prawns – heads only
2 Carrot – whole
2 Leek – whole
1 Garlic – whole
1 stick Celery – whole
1 White Onion – whole
1 sprig Fresh parsley
1 tsp Black peppercorns
1 tsp Salt
4 litres Water – cold
4 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
150 ml White wine
2 stocks Dried fennel
Wash the fish thoroughly under the tap to remove any blood that might turn our stock bitter. Pat dry and keep aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large, deep pan until smoking-hot. Add the prawn heads and crush them with the help of a potato masher, squeezing out any bits from inside the heads. Cook for a minute and then turn the heat down.
Add the carrots, leeks, celery, garlic and onion. Cook for 10-15 minutes over a low heat until the vegetables are soft.
Add the fish and cook until lightly browned.
Pour the white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping any bits on the bottom with a spatula. Reduce until all the alcohol has evaporated.
Cover with the cold water. Add the bay leaves. Bring to boil, then cook for 20 minutes over a low to medium heat. Keep skimming off any foam rising to the surface.
Take off the heat and strain the stock.
Add the peppercorns, the fresh parsley, the dried fennel stalks and the star anise. Let the stock infuse for 30 minutes off the heat.
Strain once again, season to taste and allow to cool.