“This Saturday, expect a party made in Spain,” said Punta Fuego’s chef and general manager Mikel Arriet, who also happens to be the man at the helm of the cooking of a paella gigante on a 9-ft-diameter paellera.
The proud Basque chef was born in San Sebastian and obtained his culinary education from the Escuela Superior de Cocina y Hosteleria de San Sebastian. He then honed his skills in and around some of the finest restaurants and hotels in Spain and France, including working for three-star Michelin chef Martin Berasategi.
Arriet and the rest of his eight-man crew will rustle up the largest paella yet in Manila. He is excited about the whole experience. “I have never cooked a paella this big before! But it is all in the spirit of fun. It’s for a cause, all in solidarity.”
It was Lally Hidalgo San José, executive director of the Sociedad Española de Beneficencia Sociedad (a private charitable institution that provides economic and healthcare assistance to indigent Spanish citizens in the Philippines), who came up with the giant paella fundraiser idea to help subsidize their programs.
“The proceeds will directly go to shelter, medical assistance, hospitalization and burial assistance for the elderly, and medical, dental and feeding missions for street children,” said San José.
The “amount of ingredients that are going into the paella includes 80 kilos of rice, 40 of chicken, 40 of squid, 40 of shrimp, mussels, peppers, etc. Oh, and about 170 liters of stock! The cooking will be from 3-6 p.m.,” she added.
To be part of this charity event and to have a taste of chef Mikel’s Paella Gigante, call or text 0928-5555949.
Tips and secrets
“In Spain, we say ‘cada maestrillo su librillo,’ which means there are a lot of paella recipes, but in my case, the secret is in the stock.
“Seafood paella should be from freshly made fish stock with fresh fish bones, vegetables and shrimp shells. I toast the shrimp shells in the oven before I add it to the stock. For meat paella, good chicken stock. And if it’s vegetable paella, then good vegetable stock.
“To talk about real paella is difficult. We have thousands of recipes. If you go to Spain and you are in the main towns in the middle of the Iberian Peninsula, the paellas will be more on meat and vegetables. They will be adding pimentón or Spanish paprika.
“If you are in the coastline, the paella will be more on fish and seafood, and if you are from the north of Spain, the paella even does not have yellow color because they don’t use saffron.
“When I came to the Philippines, the difference is the hard-boiled egg and chorizo de Bilbao, and the big amount of toppings, like seafood, chicken, etc.”
“On Saturday, we are doing paella mixta—seafood and meat.
“Fire plays an important role in the paella. That is my biggest challenge this weekend, because we’re cooking something so big, and we will be using real fire from charcoal that we need to control. It should cover the whole radius of the paella pan. We need strong, constant fire—strong when you add the rice, then to lower it once it starts to boil.
The rice is important. “In Spain, we use the famous Bomba rice from Calasparra—the grains are big and round, so they need a bigger amount of stock to be cooked. The rice rarely gets overcooked and is very tasty, because it can absorb a big amount of stock.”
And, lastly, “Ah! love, a lot of love!”
(Good for 600 pax)
12 liters olive oil
60 k rice
120 liters chicken stock
30 k green and red peppers
10 k onion
5 k garlic
40 k squids
20 k mussels
40 k shrimps
40 k chicken
25 k chorizo
20 liters tomato sauce
1 k colorant
4 k paella seasoning
Heat olive oil.
Add chicken, chorizo, squid, cook for five minutes.
Add bell peppers, onion, garlic.
Add shrimps and mussels.
Add stock, tomato, colorant, paella seasoning, salt to taste.
Let boil, add rice last.
Do not mix so rice doesn’t become starchy.
Cook until rice grains are done.
(Good for six)
½ c olive oil
6 pcs prawns
6 pcs mussels
6 pcs clams
3 small crabs
1 pc squid
300 g lapu-lapu
1 pc small green pepper
1 pc small red pepper
1 small onion
3 garlic cloves
½ c white wine
½ c tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
1 g saffron
480 g Bomba rice
1 liter fish stock
Add all seafood and cook slightly.
Remove seafood from pan, set aside.
Add the rest of the ingredients—spices and salt, except rice.
Let stock boil.
Add rice, lower heat and cook until rice grains are done.
Arrange seafood on top of paella and serve.
*Paella ingredients, paellera and burners are all available at Terry’s Selection (except the 9-ft-diameter one) at the Podium or along Pasong Tamo Extension; tel. no. 7297907.
“Kitchen Rescue 3, The Directory—My Lifeline to Eating, Cooking and Living,” is now available at all leading bookstores. Call 647-4744.
For my cooking class schedule, call 0917-5543700/ 0908-2372346/ 4008496/ 9289296.