It has been a week since my last visits to the always beautiful Sonora Resort in lovely British Columbia. I am one of the truly lucky few that actually not only get to enjoy this spectacular venue once in a lifetime, I actual get to enjoy it twice a year and in usually four or five day stints at a time. If you ever get an opportunity to go, take it! Trust me, you will not be disappointed.
One of the typical questions that I do get from folks is “What if I don’t like fishing? What would I do on the island?”
Well, aside from fishing, you can spa (wonderful), you can walk the grounds (spectacular), you can kayak, you can go on the eco tours, you can go grizzly bear watching, you hike and/or bike, you can eat and drink the amazing foods and wines, you can hang out in the games room and media room, or you can just take in the beauty that Sonora is.
One of the other things that you can do is take the cooking class with head chef, Terry Pichor. I have done this on five different occasions, and on each one I pick up a few extra tips that allow me to navigate my own kitchen that much better.
On this past trip, we had the typically great meal, but what made it more special than normal was the fact that I had never made this meal at home by myself. Why? I don’t know? I think that I thought “Paella” was more complicated than what Terry showed us. In fact, this wonderful Spanish dish is quite easy to make and yet extremely hardy and very pretty (as the picture will show – don’t you wish we had a smell option on our devices!!)
This is a three step operation. You will need to make a seafood stock, then the rice base and finally the actual seafood portion of the paella. Don’t panic, its all pretty easy
What you will need (this recipe is for 10 people – paella is a shared food and is soooooo much better when cooked for this many people):
The first part here is really the last. I listed it first for a reason. All I want you to do is prep the below ingredients and then put in a large bowl and put aside – fridge until we are ready to cook. The reason I start here is that you need to clean the prawns and crab first so that we can have the shells for the stock that we will make first. The actual cooking of the fish only takes a few minutes and is done right at the end, however, the stock needs to be made and ready prior to you starting the rice. Get it?
Again, you will need for fish, the following:
20 Prawns – shell and devein yourself. You will keep the shells for your stock. They should be nice sized – two inches long when head off.
4 Dungeness Crab – live is best. Clean and de-shell yourself if you can. Keep the shells for your stock. If squeamish, ask your local fish monger if they can pick the crabs for you and “get them ready” for you. Make sure you keep the shells if they do for your stock.
2 pounds of Ling Cod – this could be a challenge to find. If so, any dense, meaty white fish will do – halibut if in season would be a nice sub. Your fish monger can help here also. You just don’t want a “mushy” white fish. cut into bite size pieces. Fast cooking this way and ready to go…
1/2 pound of mussels – just clean them nicely. Don’t forget to discard open ones prior to cooking and discard closed ones after cooking. Again, a good fish monger will explain (or YouTube).
1/2 pound of clams – same as a above
2 bunches of thyme
2 bunches of parsley
2 bunches of tarragon
Now that you have got your fish prepped and ready, we can put into a bowl and fridge for a short time as we prepare our stock and rice.
The Fish Stock:
All of the shells of the crabs and prawns that we cleaned above are now going to be used
1 teaspoon saffron (what makes the dish yellow looking)
1/4 cup of good, dry, white wine – don’t use cheap wine!
1 teaspoon of peppercorns
1 piece of star anise
4 peeled garlic gloves
1 leek – cut into one inch pieces
1 celery stick – cut into one inch pieces
1 bunch of parsley and one bunch of thyme
1 bay leaf
Get a nice big stock pot and add all of the above into it and then fill with cold water and bring to a simmer. Add twice the water to dry ingredients. Simmer gently for twenty minutes to a half hour. Then remove from heat and place on a bed of ice in the sink so that it starts to cool. When cool to touch – strain and put aside for use in rice dish.
The Paella Base:
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of chopped shallots
1/4 cup of chopped garlic
1/2 cup of diced chorizo ( I love chorizo so I would probably add more – but that’s just me)
1 teaspoon of cumin and coriander
8 cups of our fish stock
1 teaspoon of smoked pimento
4 cups of Italian Arborio rice
¾ cup of fava beans – blanched
¾ cup of chickpeas – blanched
¾ cup of English peas – blanched
¾ cup of roasted red peppers – julienned
Heat a ten person paella pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil (heat for a little bit) and then add the shallots, garlic, and chorizo to the pan and cook until slightly caramelized. Add your cumin and coriander and then stir in evenly. Pour your stock into this and bring to a boil (slowly). When boiling, add the rice and bring entire mixture back to a boil. When the rice starts to boil, lower heat to a gentle simmer and then cook rice until tender. When the rice has absorbed the liquid, you will start to hear a sizzle. This will be the rice cooking to the bottom of the pan. At this point add the blanched beans and peas as well as the peppers and then lower the heat to low.
Take the shellfish out of the fridge and add to a steamer basket. At the bottom of your steamer basket (prior to the fish going into the basket) lay out the herbs evenly, then add the fish atop that. Steam the fish until cooked, this will take about 6 minutes. Remember to toss all shellfish that does not open at this point.
I would start steaming my fish when the rice is about ½ done. This way the rice can come off the heat and the fish can go directly atop.
Look at this dish!!
I would like to thank the Louie family for allowing us to take advantage of the kitchen in the main house as well as the incredible dining room.
To Terry, Nicky and Alexandra – as per usual – WOW!! Another awesome cooking class. Thanks for allowing us to be us
I know I speak for the entire group – what an awesome time we had!
Until next year – Happy Eating!
I am not going to write this one one, but I did get my wife to save this as a jpg to post. This is the recipe for the Sangria that we had. Very nice!
Ciao for now @kootenayborn