After a challenging, yet rewarding five-day retreat at a Buddhist Monastery, as part of my Philosophical Buddhism course this past January, I couldn’t help but return back to the Hsi Lai Temple. I was involved in the Chinese New Year celebrations where the women were dressed in traditional Laos and Indian costumes, and it felt strangely comfortable not needing to have everything translated into English–I instantly felt like I was being transported to Asia for the day. So who’s ready to explore SE Asia with me now?
I have to be honest when I say I wasn’t too crazy about Spanish food. I did however fall in love with the genius combination of paella and sangria. Sangria is the perfect refreshing drink, especially in that Spanish heat. Sangria will always be a little reminder of the bold sweetness of my experiences in Spain.
Check out a taste of Spain from a cooking class I took while backpacking– and I hope you take a day to get your loved ones together and try it out!
To give you a little background on the delicious dish, Paella is Valencian rice dish originated near the east coast of Spain. Many non-Spaniards think of paella as Spain’s national dish, but Spaniards think of it more as a regional dish. Mixed paella is what I saw the most, so I had to share what I learned with you. This is not the only recipe for paella, and I am no expert–every chef has his or her creative method in creating their favorite paella.
Heat a little bit of olive oil in a large frying pan (paellera), if you don’t have a paella pan, you can use any flat type of pan (not a Wok).
Add the chicken & cook until golden. [400 gr of chicken]
Add a sprinkle of chopped garlic, salt, & pepper
Turn ingredients around, & turn everything on strong heat (it’s important to always stir in the same direction).
Add fish (king prawns, mussels, whatever fish you love) & let liquids steam away for 5-7 min. [8 pieces]
Add rice, saffron & paprika. Then move ingredients around so rice is evenly spread. [500 gr. med grain rice]
Add tomato sauce, white wine, then wait 2 min for wine to steam away. [1/4 liter dry white wine]
Add chicken stock & then add the water (will remove rice from sticking to the pan). [1/2 lit chicken stock]
Move ingredients around again, then leave paella to cook at medium to strong heat (until you see it boiling)
Once paella is boiling, turn down the heat to a simmer & add 100 gr. of diced red pepper.
When rice appears to be cooked, add fish in “decorative way”. Leave paella cooking until fish is properly cooked.
After approximately 10 min, turn the heat down.
When fish is pink, sample the rice to check if it is al dente.
For the last 4-5 min of cooking, leave paella covered by aluminum foil.
For a nice aroma, add lemon. Add the fresh peas if you like as well since they don’t need to be cooked.
And lastly, enjoy with friends & pour the sangria!
Sangria is a light, affordable wine punch that is usually from the province of Rioja. It’s perfect for any time of the day and I highly recommend it with your favorite tapas and paella.
To make your own sangria, add pieces of your favorite fruits like oranges, lemon, apples, grapefruit, and peaches to soak in with the wine. White wine can be used instead of red called sangria blanca. I learned that besides wine and fruits, sangria normally has sweetener like honey, sugar, orange juice, or fruit nectar. A small amount of brandy, triple sec, or other liquors can be added as well. Lastly, add ice and carbonated soda. Sangria is often served with a wooden spoon to stir and to get the fruit out.
And as my friend Meg always said:
“you know it’s going to be a good night when you eat the fruit out of the sangria!”