SEAFOOD PAELLA + Homemade: Fish Stock

November 3rd, 2020


A few weeks ago was New Zealand’s inaugural sustainable seafood week (12 – 18 October). The focus is on bringing more awareness to sustainable fishing practices so to preserve our kai moana for generations to come. When purchasing seafood, search out and support small-scale fishing businesses, of which there is now quite a number around the country. 

Forest & Bird’s Best Fish Guide is a useful resource to have on hand (or on your phone) when purchasing seafood so to make a more sustainable choice. I will often refer to this when purchasing seafood and have found some of the ‘green light’ options are often some of the more reasonably priced. For example, the dozen green-lipped mussels I purchased for the paella below cost about $4.00. Unfortunately, mussels are not a favourite of the smaller people in the house otherwise I would cook them more often. A paella is a great dinner option as I can include some fish fillets as well as mussels so everyone at the table is happy. Plus the mussels stock adds great flavour to the dish. 

Seafood Paella

This classic Spanish rice dish is very versatile and can be mixed up with whatever seafood is available. The key to a standout paella is using good quality stock (see recipe below), as well as being graciously heavy-handed with the olive oil – particularly if you like that crunchy caramelised layer on the bottom of the pan.
Servings 4
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes


  • ¼ cup olive oil + more for drizzling
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 150 g chorizo, roughly chopped - optional
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 red chilli, thinly sliced or ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika + extra for sprinkling
  • Pinch about 12 saffron threads or ½ tsp turmeric powder (for colour)
  • 5 cups 1.25 litres good quality fish (see recipe below) or vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½ cups 300g short grain white rice
  • 400 g white-fleshed fish, cut into 4-5cm pieces – look out for kahawai, trevally or ling
  • A dozen green-lipped mussels
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • Handful fresh coriander leaves
  • Lemon wedges to serve


  • In a paella pan or large frying pan, heat the olive oil over a moderate heat. Add the onion, chorizo, garlic, chilli and paprika, sauté for 8-10 minutes.
  • Add the saffron, fish stock and ½ tsp salt. Sprinkle over the rice and cook, uncovered, without stirring for 15 minutes – if using a paella pan, turn regularly for even cooking.
  • Once the rice has plumped up – and with liquid still visible – scatter over the peas. Arrange the fish pieces and mussels evenly over the rice. Add a few pinches of extra paprika, then drizzle generously with olive oil and season well. Cover with a lid and cook for about 10 minutes, until the rice has absorbed the liquid and the fish is tender and mussels have opened. Avoid stirring the rice, or the crust on the base won’t form.
  • Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve immediately with lemon wedges and salad.

Homemade: Fish Stock

I often come home from the fish shop with a fish head (and/or carcass) in tow to make fish stock to use in paella or seafood chowder. I don’t add salt when preparing stock, instead seasoning to taste the actual dish that it will be used in.
Servings 2 litres
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes


  • 2 tbsp olive oil or knob of butter
  • 1 onion, roughly sliced
  • 1 small fennel bulb, roughly sliced
  • 1 carrot, roughly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6-8 black peppercorns
  • About 800g fish head or carcass
  • ½ glass - about 80ml dry white wine (optional)
  • 2 litres water


  • Heat the oil in a large pan or stockpot. Add the olive oil, onion, fennel and carrot and sauté over a moderate heat for 5 minutes until softened. Add the bay leaf, peppercorns and fish head.
  • Pour over the wine and water, cover lightly with a lid and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat and cook gently for 25-30 minutes. During this time, skim off any scum that comes to surface.
  • Cool a little, then strain through a large sieve. Cool the stock completely, then refrigerate for 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Join the Conversation

  1. Sarah williams says:

    I made this with cooked chicken instead of fish and it was great. Very tasty and good instructions thanks

    1. Hi Sarah, great idea, I often make this with chicken pieces. It is a delicious variation.
      Happy cooking, Nicola

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