“It is easy to find restaurants in Mexico City that serve one of my all time favorite dishes – authentic Spanish Paella or Paella a la Valenciana. However, Paella is not Kosher!
So several years ago, when I began to exclude pork and shellfish from my diet as part of keeping kosher, I never thought I would again be able to enjoy that rich, saffron flavored authentic taste of a Spanish Paella. I was determined to find a way to adapt this delicious and unique dish to fit my dietary restrictions. I found that experimenting and innovating paid off, and allowed me to come up with my own kosher version of paella.
I have come to the conclusion that the most important ingredient in Paella, kosher or not, is a very high quality saffron. I buy my saffron in the Persian markets here in Los Angeles; I do not recommend the saffron available in supermarkets. For the rest of my flavoring, I turn to onion, garlic, red pimento, chicken, polish sausage, and imitation shrimp or surimi. Wikipedia defines surimi as follows: “Surimi is a Japanese loan word referring to a fish-based food product that… is typically made from white-fleshed fish (such as pollock…”
4 cups Hot water or clear chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt (optional added to the water)
12-18 chicken drumettes (the upper most portion of the chicken wing)
2-3 kosher Polish sausages cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 package kosher imitation shrimp (Surimi)
1 cup onion diced
1/2 cup fresh red pimento diced
2 garlic cloves minced
2 cups long grain white rice
1/2 cup sliced roasted pimentos from a jar
1 can black pitted olives
Dissolve the saffron in the 4 cups of hot water or chicken stock, add salt to the water if desired, and set it aside. Brown the chicken drumettes, skin intact, in a deep and large, dry, non-stick saucepan (at least 12″). Once evenly browned, remove the chicken and set it aside. Add the sausage, brown it for a few minutes, then add the imitation shrimp to the saucepan, and stir it in with the sausage for two minutes, still on medium/high heat. Remove the sausage and fish and set aside. By now the bottom of the saucepan contains the oils from the chicken and the sausage. If the amount of oil exceeds about 2 tablespoons discard the excess. Add the onion to the still hot oil and stir it over medium to high heat until it becomes translucent. One at a time add in the fresh red pimento and the minced garlic, stirring thoroughly after each addition. Place the cup of saffron water in the microwave for 2 minutes because when you are ready to do so, you want it nearly boiling when you pour it onto the rice. Add the rice to the pan and stir it thoroughly for about 3 minutes and then add the jarred roasted pimentos. Stir again and add the chicken, sausage and fish back into the saucepan and mix the rice combination for about another 3 minutes. Raise the heat to high and add the saffron water and immediately add the black olives and stir them in. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover and lower heat so that you have a high simmer. cook covered for about 15 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed and the rice has fluffed up. Serve hot…Olé!