At the Bay Area Maker
Faire, Gerard’s paella is justly famous, and made in huge pans. Image source:
Our headquarters are located in Hayward, across the Bay from San Mateo, which is home to Maker Faire, an annual celebration of DIY making, tinkering, creativity--and good food. I know many people who go to Maker Faire, and when they talk about it they inevitably mention Gerard Nebesky's famous paella. Nebesky makes the dish in pans as big as satellite dishes, and the lines to get some are always long. Maker Faire may not be until spring, but paella is delicious anytime, especially when it’s cold out and made when clams, shrimp, and mussels are at their sweetest and most flavorful.
Cooking with a Kit
Unless you’re feeding a Maker Faire-size crowd, you don’t absolutely need one of those massive paella pans. A big skillet with high sides will do, and a flat bottom wok works well, too. Making paella may feel daunting because of the many ingredients (you’ve got to run around and find at least three different kinds of fresh shellfish, along with the special rice and saffron), but ordering a paella kit online really simplifies the process.
That’s because what happens to most people when they make paella is that one store will have beautiful looking shrimp, but no mussels. The next store might have decent mussels but not enough clams, and at the next store they’ll find perky clams, but also scallops that aren’t quite up to par. It’s a time consuming process and it always ends in a disappointing compromise (like scratching the scallops altogether, or cutting back on the amount of clams).
A kit is perfect for this dilemma because it includes all the requisite seafood you need. If you buy the kit from a trusted retailer, the shellfish will all be equally fresh and delicious, and you won’t have to go to three stores to find it. Some kits also offer the special paella rice, fish broth (a superior ingredient to water that I think gives the paella some extra flavor), and the saffron. All you’ll need to add is the vegetables. You can pick and choose what you like (to be traditional, stick with what’s in season), but I usually use onions, garlic, red bell peppers, green beans, and lots of chopped tomatoes.
Cook Like Gerard
Gerard’s paella is not only famous at Maker Faire, but his recipe actually took down Bobby Flay on the Food Network. Flay got all fancy with multiple pans while Gerard stuck with his more traditional version and won. Below is a tweaked version of his recipe, using a paella kit.
Gerard makes his paella with chicken--a popular addition to the usual seafood--but I think using a smoked Spanish chorizo instead adds a great flavor to the rice. Gerard also crushes his saffron, but a Persian friend once told me that home cooks in Iran, where a lot of saffron is grown, soak the flower threads in a stock before adding it to the other ingredients. I think the saffron better suffuses the dish this way (and since it’s more expensive than gold, you always want to make the most of the saffron you have).
Using a kit makes cooking paella easier, but realize that this dish still takes time to prep (gathering, washing, chopping, and measuring the ingredients) as well as more than an hour to cook. The trick is to make the preparing time a chance for socializing. Then you can sit back a bit as the paella cooks, adding ingredients as needed while sipping wine and chatting with friends.
Start with the Freshest Seafood
Order a paella kit from Daily Fresh Fish before 2 pm and you’ll have it the next day. All you need to do is pick up the vegetables and invite your friends. The shellfish (two kinds of shrimp, Manila clams, PEI mussels, and scallops) is fresher than any seafood you’ll find in a store because it never goes to a store—it goes straight to your door. And, our paella plus kit includes not only super fresh seafood, but also rice, stock, and spices, so you can pull together a Maker Faire-worthy paella in minimal time.