When the rice company, Eighth Wonder, sent me some of their rice to review, I wasn’t sure what to do with them aside from the plain steamed version. I asked around on Twitter and got some helpful suggestions like rice pudding, tsampurado, sushi, etc. Someone new to Twitter, @KA_Hawk replied “Paella” (his/her very first tweet!).
I looked up several different Paella recipes online, afraid that the process would be too complicated. After all, I always find the flavors of the dish complex and flavorful. I braced myself for what would be laborious work in the kitchen, but much to my surprise the vegan version was amazingly simple.
By the way, Filipino style Paella is almost the same as the Spanish original except for some of the spices used. The Filipino version uses achuete or anatto powder as the food coloring instead of saffron threads. Although it still uses saffron, the flavor infusion comes from the bay leaves. Some Filipino versions also use tomato sauce.
- I used straw mushrooms to have the same spongy texture of clams and mussels.
- To add more color and flavor, I used kalamata olives and marinated artichoke hearts.
- It’s important to mix the anatto powder with a little bit of water before adding to the pan.
Makes 4-6 servings
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 roma tomatoes, chopped (preferably very ripe red)
- 1 small red bell pepper, sliced
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon achuete or annatto powder (mixed in 3 tbsp water)
- 1 1/2 cup of rice (I used Eighth Wonder Kalinga Unoy)
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 cup of vegetable broth (I used the bouillon kind so I added more water)
- 1 can of straw mushrooms
- 1/2 cup of green peas, frozen and thawed
- 3 pcs bay leaves
- a pinch of saffron threads
- salt and pepper to taste (preferably sea salt and freshly ground pepper)
- lemon wedges, for garnish
- olives, for garnish (I used kalamata olives)
- artichokes, for garnish (I used marinated artichoke hearts)
- In a skillet or shallow pan, saute the garlic with oil over medium heat.
- Add the onions and tomatoes until fragrant and tender.
- Add the red bell pepper and saute for another 5 minutes.
- Pour in the rice grains, mix well making sure the grains are coated.
- Add the water and vegetable broth, mixing well so the rice will have equal amounts of flavor. Simmer and occasionally mix for 5 minutes.
- Top the rice with bay leaves and cover the pan. Let the rice cook for 15 minutes (no stirring).
- Check the rice, if the top portion is still raw, add a little bit of water. Do this bit by bit and *gradually* until all liquid is absorbed and the rice is fully cooked.
- Once the rice is cooked, mix in the peas, saffron threads, and achioete/annatto mixture.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Add the artichokes, olives, and lemons on top as garnish.
- Serve hot.
The verdict on the Kalinga Unoy rice: The difference between Kalinga Unoy compared to white Jasmine rice and Spanish rice is that Kalinga Unoy is definitely not sweet. In fact, I think the regular brown rice is still sweeter (but also more robust). With that said, the mild earthy flavor of Kalinga Unoy is perfect for a dish like Paella because it incorporates well with the flavors of the vegetables and spices. It doesn’t overpower any of the elements. Kalinga Unoy also has the perfect texture because it made my Paella creamy yet al-dente.
To learn more about Eighth Wonder and its products, feel free to visit their site.
Meanwhile, I still have some samples to review like a red rice called “Ulikan Red” and another kind sweet sticky rice. Please feel free to suggest a recipe either on this blog or on Twitter. I’ll give proper credit of course. Thanks in advance and enjoy making a vegan Filipino Paella!