Paella is a dish usually built for a crowd, but with the right pan (such as a steel crepe pan), it's easy to make a single serving.
- 1 cup seafood stock or clam juice
- Small pinch of crumbled saffron threads
- 1/4 teaspoon pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika)
- 4 to 5 ounces cleaned squid, bodies cut crosswise into 1/4-inch rings, tentacles cut lengthwise in half
- Kosher or sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
- 2 scallions (trimmed), white and green parts, cut crosswise into thin slices
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup arborio, bomba or other short-grain rice
- 4 large cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the seafood stock or clam juice, saffron and pimenton in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once it starts to bubble at the edges, reduce the heat to low and cover.
Lightly season the squid with salt and pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in an 8-inch cast-iron pan or heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the squid and cook for 30 to 60 seconds, stirring frequently, just until the squid pieces become completely opaque and exude their juices. Transfer to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil, then the crushed red pepper flakes, scallions and garlic; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, until the scallion starts to soften. Add the rice and cook for 1 minute, stirring, so the grains are well coated with the pan mixture.
Pour in the hot seafood stock or clam juice mixture and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Taste the liquid and add salt or crushed red pepper flakes as needed, then let it continue to gently bubble, swirling the pan or skillet occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until the rice has swelled and absorbed much of the liquid; it should still be slightly soupy.
Stir in the squid and tomatoes. Transfer the pan or skillet to the oven and roast, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the rice is al dente, or mostly tender with a little resistance in the center of the grains.
Remove the pan or skillet from the oven. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until the rice is tender. Uncover and return the pan or skillet to the stovetop over medium-high heat; cook for about 2 minutes to brown the bottom of the rice.
Spoon the paella out onto a plate and eat. Don't worry if the rice sticks. Just scrape it out and know that this is what the Spanish call "soccarat," the crispy pieces that are considered a sign of a great paella.
From Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One," by Joe Yonan (Ten Speed Press, 2011).
Tested by Joe Yonan.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.