Last Updated on May 24, 2021 by Fiona Maclean
A good seafood paella starts with freshly delivered fish.
One of the silver linings of the past year of lockdowns has been the proliferation of companies selling top quality fresh food online. Now that restaurants are re-opening their doors – hopefully not to have to shut them again any time soon – my hope is that customers will still be able to access the great vegetables, cheese, meats and fish that we have enjoyed since March 2020. I have discovered the joy of ordering a variety of fish online for overnight delivery, finding British produce that isn’t always easy to spot in the supermarket. I’m keen to help champion British fish at the moment, partly to help counter the challenges our fishing industry faces and partly because it’s truly delicious. Recently, I was introduced to Amity Fish Company, situated in Peterhead, on the Aberdeenshire coast in Scotland and delivering fish that is landed locally. Orders over £60 have free delivery and there is such a wide selection of fresh or frozen fish and shellfish that it won’t take long to fill up your basket. Perfect for picking a range of fish for a seafood paella – and more!
The website was full of very tempting offers and I decided to try the fresh monkfish fillets along with langoustine tails and scallops. I also ordered halibut. A packet of smoked salmon brought my order up to £60, I paid and sat back to await delivery. As long as you place your order before 9.30 in the morning, you will receive your fish the following day. You can buy fresh and frozen fish, smoked and hot smoked options, fish cakes and breaded goujons, and a variety of fish boxes from family-friendly to luxury varieties.
A well-cooled polystyrene box arrived containing my fresh monkfish and scallops while the halibut fillets arrived frozen as did the langoustine tails. I left the halibut to defrost and anticipated a delicious dinner.
Halibut is not a fish I cook often as it is pricey. It doe make for a tasty treat though. I sometimes feel somewhat prejudiced against frozen fish, yet it is usually much fresher than the fillets one buys in the supermarket which can hang about for days in the fridges. Once defrosted, I noticed that the Amity halibut fillets were a generous size and very meaty. I searched the internet for inspiration – there are loads of ideas for those of us in need. Frequently I find a recipe I fancy and then discover I don’t have half the ingredients so I use it as a launchpad and take the dish in my own direction. On this occasion I ended up roasting the halibut with some olive oil, strewn with pencil-thin asparagus and green beans, chopped up some green olives and sprinkled over pul biber chilli flakes and lemon wedges on the side. For herbiness – essential with fish, in my view – I used a mixture of chopped fresh parsley and a teaspoon of dried tarragon and then served the fish on a bed of wild rocket. Served along with a bowl of steamed Jersey royals, this was as seasonal as a dinner could get. The fish was delectable with an excellent firm texture. The chilli flakes and the rocket were a great way to add a hint of peppery spiciness to the fish without overpowering it with too much heat. If you are looking for an alternative recipe for Halibut with Asparagus, why not try this one, with an indulgent champagne cream sauce. It’s definitely a fish which deserves a luxurious presentation.
The following day was a Saturday – a perfect time to potter about in the kitchen to cook a special dish. I love paella of all sorts and often find that this is a dish best made at home. Even in Spain, I have frequently been disappointed with the quality of the paella on offer as it is touted all over to tourists. The key is to buy authentic ingredients and I always turn to Brindisa for anything Spanish. This time I ordered a bag of Calasparra rice which is very absorbent so the stock you use will shine through in the flavour. Rice has been cultivated in Calasparra since the 17th century and was the first rice in the world to gain a Denomination of Origin. I also ordered a paella spice mix through Brindisa which I have not used before and which flavoured the stock very well and provided a lovely colour. A paella always looks festive no matter whether you use chicken, rabbit, fish or just keep it vegetarian. The one essential addition is a generous number of lemon wedges to squeeze over when you eat. This is especially so for seafood paella. (see recipe below).
I am the proud owner of several paella pans but my favourite is the newest – a stainless steel pan from Samuel Groves which not only conducts the heat well but looks very attractive when brought to the table.
As I had a few scallops left over I pan-fried them as a light meal the following day. They only require a few minutes on a hot pan in melted butter – they become tough if overcooked – and I simply let the butter brown which gives it a lovely, nutty flavour and added torn basil leaves at the end. Fabulous.
I had not been able to use all the monkfish in the paella and had enough for a further meal. I simply grilled the substantial tail fillet and served it with steamed greens.
As for the smoked salmon, what better way to eat it than with scrambled eggs? This is perhaps the best way I know to start the morning. Give me this dish over the full English any day. This smoked salmon was particularly good as it was not overly salty nor overly smoked – both signs of a cheaply produced product. With creamy eggs, slow-cooked as they need to be, and toasted sourdough, I felt thoroughly spoilt.
For a £60 box of fish I created five meals – each was delicious and quick to prepare using the top quality products from Amity. I think that is excellent value for money.
Meanwhile, if you fancy making the seafood paella yourself, here’s my recipe.
A quick paella recipe using fish and shellfish
- Olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 Romano pepper deseeded and sliced
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 150 grams very thin green beans
- 2 cups Calasparra rice
- 2 sachets paella spice mix I used Antonio Sotos from Brindisa
- 1.750 litres stock fish stock preferably
- 8 langoustine tails
- 8 scallops
- 200 grams monkfish tail cut into large chunks
- 1 -2 lemons cut into quarters
Heat a thin film of oil in the pan and sear the monkfish fillets for a couple of minutes of each side. Remove and set aside.
Add another thin film of oil to the pan and sear the scallops for 2 minutes on each side. remove and set aside.
Add another film of oil to the pan and saute the onion and peppers for 5 minutes.
Add chopped garlic to the pan and cook for another 2 minutes.
Add the sachets of spices to the pan and stir well to coat the vegetables.
Add the rice and stir well to ensure that all the grains of rice are well coated with the spice mixture.
Add the stock which you have brought to a gentle boil.
Scatter the green beans on top.
Leave to cook on a medium heat for 15 - 20 minutes. Check the rice after 15 minutes - you want it to have a bite and not overcook.
Add the langoustines and cook for a further 5 - 7 minutes.
Now add the monkfish and the scallops and cook for a further 3 - 5 minutes.
Serve straight away in the pan and add the lemon wedges.
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