With bold and exotic flavors and loads of seafood, this Paella-Inspired Rice Casserole is easy and fun to make and incredibly delicious!
There was an 8.9 earthquake in Japan last night and I want to thank everyone for your concerns. I just talked to my mother on the phone (5 am there) after hours of not being able to reach her. She informed me that my family is okay. My friends are also okay although I haven’t got a response from all of them.
I debated if I should talk about food when you are probably worried about me and my family, but I wanted to take this opportunity to remind all of you to prepare an emergency kit or update your kit if it has expired. It’s better to be well-prepared than not being prepared at all. I pray for Japan to recover from this natural disaster soon.
Once in a while, I enjoy cooking non-Japanese food, like paella. The recipe I share may not be labeled authentic because I use Japanese rice instead of Bomba or Calasparra rice. However, this recipe allows you to prep the paella using the existing ingredients that are already in the pantry. Like me who once in a while cooks non-Japanese meals, but I don’t want to go out to buy ingredients I typically don’t use. The cooking time is based on Japanese rice I used and the method is my original. If you don’t have a paella pan, you can use a large stainless-steel skillet instead. You don’t need to buy a paella pan unless you cook paella often. I use my favorite red cast-iron braiser, which is supposedly not a perfect pan for paella because it retains too much heat. But it always worked fine for me and I like that I can bring it directly to the table and the presentation looks lovely. Enjoy!
Easy Paella-Inspired Rice Casserole
- ¾ lb manila clams
- 1 tsp Spanish saffron
- 1 Tbsp warm water
- 3 cups chicken stock/broth
- 1 ½ Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ cups uncooked Japanese short-grain rice (equivalent to 2 rice cooker cups)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- ½ cup white wine
- ½ red bell pepper (sliced)
- ½ orange bell pepper (sliced)
- 2 chicken thighs (cut into small pieces)
- ¾ lb sliced squid (rinsed)
- 8 tiger shrimp (I prefer keeping the shell for retaining more flavor)
- 8-10 asparagus
- kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 green onions/scallions (chopped)
- lemon (to serve)
- 4 hours prior to cooking, start de-gritting clams. Gather all the ingredients.
- Soak saffron in warm water and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 425ºF (220ºC). For a convection oven, reduce the cooking temperature by 25ºF (15ºC). In a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil and set aside.
- Heat the oil in an oven-safe pan (I use a cast iron braiser) on medium heat and add rice. Stirring constantly for 5 minutes, or until the rice is translucent.
- Add garlic and stir for a couple of minutes.
- Then add white wine. Let all the alcohol evaporated.
- Add the chicken stock and mix well.
- Add saffron including saffron water and bring it to a boil.
- After boiling, place bell peppers on top of rice.
- Transfer the pan into the oven and cook at 425ºF (220ºC) for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, take out the pan and quickly place the chicken, squid, tiger shrimp, manila clams, and asparagus on top of rice and bell peppers. Put the pan back into the oven.
- Cook for 20 minutes. After it’s done, take out the pan from the oven and sprinkle salt, black pepper, and green onions. Serve with lemon wedges if you like.
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.