Monday, October 10, 2011
Spots Before My Eyes
Not to brag, but I've made some pretty spectacular paellas on the grill in the last several years. The heat from the wood fire, the smokiness it lends, the bitter edge and dynamite color from the saffron…there's really nothing like it.
But I think the one I made last night for my sister-in-law's birthday might have been one for the record books. The recipe remained pretty much the same, though with homemade fish stock instead of chicken stock, and piquillo peppers, a few baby shrimp left over from the appetizers and chopped green beans from the garden. I'd gone by Newman's Fish Market earlier in the day to pick up the usual pound of mussels, but they were sold out. Same with their clams. I was about to turn and head out the door when the tattooed young fellow behind the counter asked, "Did you see these spot prawns?"
One glance told me that I had my solution. I'd heard about these lovelies up in Vancouver, BC, where they hold an annual Spot Prawn Festival at the beginning of May to celebrate this northern Pacific coastal delicacy. Though certainly not cheap compared to the ubiquitous pink shrimp, these were big and fat and packed with deep red-orange roe, which I'd never seen before. My new friend with the tats said to put them in the paella at the very end of cooking, for only five minutes or so they wouldn't overcook.
I nodded and ran out the door with my package. When I got home I pulled off the legs and scooped out the roe, leaving the shells on to add a little extra flavor to the rice. Then just as I was pulling the paella off the grill, I sprinkled the roe in the center so it would warm up ever so slightly.
So there you go. I've given away my secrets again, but seriously get some of these beauties if you see them in the case. They'll send whatever dish you put them in right over the top!
Thanks to Kathryn for snapping the photo at top before the crowd demolished it!