Monday, 30 January 2012

Winter Paella with Chinese Sausage and Mussels

The Jellied Eel magazine is holding a "Love Your Local Sausage" competition, together with London Farmers' Market, to find our best local banger. The ones nominated for Pimlico Farmers' Market (which I work at) are Downland Pig's Breakfast Maarmalade, your traditional fat pork sausage with a hint of sweetness, and 12 Green Acres'' Cooking Chorizo, a wonderful British substitute for the famous Spanish sausage. I'm excited for them, and Cheryl from the market has also asked if I can try to share some kind of recipe involving sausage, in the spirit of this event.

I did this paella a few weeks after I came back from Spain, because I was kind of missing the sun there, and I've got Spanish goodies from the trip that I wanted to use up, e.g. the vintagey-designed pretty tin of paprika sitting on my table. I didn't have chorizo then, and because it's the dead of winter and I try to eat seasonally, there were no peppers or fresh tomatoes or green beans or peas. Instead, I made use of what I had on hand, Chinese sausage lap cheong (a traditional sweet cured chorizo-style sausage), mussels, onions, canned tomatoes and lots of fresh parsley. Of course, this would be a brilliant recipe to try the Cooking Chorizo with, so you can give it a go with that!

Winter Paella with Chinese Sausage and Mussels
serves 2-3
200g of paella rice
1 onion, chopped
1/2 can of tomatoes (400g tin)
500ml of stock i.e. water i.e. the reserved mussels cooking liquor
1/2 chinese sausage (or cooking chorizo)
500g fresh mussels
pinch of saffron (the most expensive thing by weight in my house currently)
1 tsp smoked paprika
unrefined sea salt, to taste
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

to serve
chopped fresh parsley

1. Clean the mussels, scrub well and remove the beard. Throw away those that don't close after tapping, they're dead. Add mussels to a pot, add cold water, and cover and bring to a boil. Cook until the mussels open, it takes only 3 min or so. Drain, discarding those that don't open. To make your stock, just add the saffron strands to the hot reserved cooking liquor and let infuse.

2. Add the chinese sausage to a hot shallow frying pan (mine was about 12" wide for that number of servings) and let it cook till lightly charred and the fat oozes out. Drain and set aside.

3. The all-important sofrito. Add the olive oil to the fat and sweat the onions, then add the canned tomatoes and paprika and keep frying till it reduces to a thick paste and becomes darker in colour.

4. Add the rice and stir for a couple of min till well-coated. Now add the stock, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Make sure the rice is spread out well i.e. all under the surface of the liquid. Leave it alone and DO NOT STIR (it's the opposite of risotto). You want a crust "soccarat" to form at the bottom.

6. When all the liquid has been absorbed, arrange the mussels and chinese sausage artistically over the rice. Cover the pan with foil and turn off the heat, and let the rice finish steam-cooking, for about 10 min.

7. Serve straight from the pan with a big squeeze of lemon and scatter of parsley.

This easily cured my winter blues. They say one eats with the eye before the mouth, and just looking at all the colours made me think of summer and sunshine! It wasn't the most authentic paella, but the deliciously greasy and savoury chinese sausage, the sweet mussels, the fresh fragrance of parsley made up a beautiful substitute. The star of the show however, is of course, the rice, dyed a happy golden yellow and plump with all the flavours from the mussel stock, paprika, saffron, tomatoes and sausage.

Oh and Londoners, please go have a little wander around the farmers' markets and vote for your favourite sausage.The contest ends in about 3 weeks time. You stand a chance to win prizes too including a meal for two at a top London restaurant and a bag of the top 5 bangers (!!!)


  1. This has to be a delicious yet unique paella! I love how you incorporate Chinese sausage into this classic Spanish dish. Thumbs up on the creativity!

  2. This paelle is very perfectly cooked. I must say that you are quite professional in your cooking.

  3. oh god Shu Han this is stunning!... I want this NOW!!!... I am going to purchase the ingredients but I feel you should come here to cook it for me!

  4. Oh, that's a wicked line up of bangers you linked to. Yum.

    I really like the idea of using Chinese sausage for this, it's not something I have ever tried (Chinese sausage that is, not paella), and so I'm left intrigued. What's their flavour?

    I didn't know about leaving the rice to form a crust either. Delicious. Definitely something to bring summer back to the table.

  5. It already feels warmer! Your paella is a most welcome dish in the middle of the Winter. It looks excellent and the Chinese sausage seems a perfect chorizo substitute.
    It's a wonderful initiative! They should organise such things all around the world.

  6. That is wonderful. I can't afford saffron, but I'll bet I could make a good paella without it. I love Chinese sausage. I first learned about it during my recent years in Denver where we had two huge Asian markets. I miss that here in Washington, DC.

  7. yi: thanks (: as always, it usually starts out because I don't have/can't afford an ingredient!

    zoe: wow thanks zoe!

    dom: hahaha is that an invite? ;)

    the grubworm: oh the sausages are brilliant! local, free-range, delicious! yah the crust is supposedly what everyone fights over!

    sissi: thanks sissi! yup, the farmers' market is trying to get everyone more excited about local food, and bangers seem like a great way to go (:

    stephen: you only need the tiniest pinch of saffron so it's not exactly expensive, it's just by weight, because they're so light!

  8. This sounds delicious. So very different from anything I've made before, but I am totally going to brave up and try mussels one of these days. Your photos are gorgeous.

    I've never tried a Chinese sausage before. How is the taste different? Chorizo is such a unique taste by comparison!

  9. That is exactly the kind of food I love to eat, it looks so delicious, though I must confess to not having tried chinese sausage before and would really like to!

  10. I would love to try out your paella using Chinese sausage. Have never eaten them before nut they look so yummy I must hunt them down. What a clever idea of yours :-)

  11. Hi Shuhan - I've never seen this Chinese sausage - it looks fantastic... I'm going to have to explore the stores in Chinatown in Paris a bit to see if I can find it. Do you ever soak your mussels in brine? It causes them to spit out any grit and sand I think :)

    Fab looking paella - so rich and tasty!

  12. Oh, wow. I'm drooling on my computer after these pics! Looks amazing!

  13. I'm drooling over your paella! so creative of you to incorporate lap cheong into the dish!
    It's so nice to read about farmer's market promoting local produce, how i wish there's more initiative like this in Malaysia..

  14. I'll be making a vegetarian (seafood is OK) paella for a special valentine dinner with friends! I've never had Chinese sausage before so I'll have to explore our Chinses markets too. I loved Charles' tip!

  15. Your food and photo's are incredible! I love this recipe!

    Thanks for finding my blog, cos I love looking at yours!

  16. Your paella looks so inviting!

  17. Oh this looks divine - I'm such a fan of paella and I love all the personal twists you've added.
    Hearing you talk about London farmer's market takes me back to when I was visiting London at 16. All the markets were my favourite thing to see & do!

  18. Nice! I love how there's a progression for how it slowly transforms into a wonderful finished product. And MAD PROPS for using Lap Cheong instead of Chorizos hahaha... You go, Shu Han! I've never tried making Paella at home because I don't have a proper Paella pan but you've given me faith that a normal pan can give just as good of an outcome... Will keep you posted on my future Paella adventures (and only have you to thank!) =D

  19. I made something similar on my blog:

  20. mary: it is quite a change from your usual salty/savoury sausage as it's sweet! hoep you find it one day (:

    pistachio and rose: oooh i hope you try it one day, liek i said its quite special.

    charles: great tip charles, I never knew that! will do that next time ;)

    autumn: thanks!

    eva: oh that sounds great! you can just do this with mussels, and perhaps add some prawns and squid for a really sumptuous seafood paella (:

    natasha: aw, thanks so much!

    anh: thanks!

    emily: markets are my favourite places to visit in london too (:

    winston: haha please keep me posted! hehe now that you can do it with lap cheong, you don't have to go about getting expensive spanish chorizo, though i would sy the taste is quite different.

    frank: frank that looks freaking delicious! love the clams too, we need to eat more shellfsih, they're sustainable and yum and cheap. also read that you shop at marylebone farmers' market? that's great! (:

  21. AMAZING! What a stunning recipe, I could have eaten that delicious looking sofrito mixture with the Chinese sausage before the rice went in! Thanks for linking it up to Simple and in Season it's perfect x

  22. Unfortunately not a paella, we never use any kind of sausage in paella, neither sprinkle parsley on top, and that sofrito is just too much for the amount of rice you've got. Happy to cook one for you, or check: