Food

Recreating José Andrés’s Seafood Paella from Taste | Reverse Engineering | Bon Appétit

Recreating José Andrés’s Seafood Paella from Taste | Reverse Engineering | Bon Appétit
video

– Hey, it’s Rhoda, and I’m here for a secret conversation about Chris Morocco. Once again, we’re gonna put Chris’s super taster abilities to the test. This is José Andrés’ seafood paella. We’re challenging Chris to replicate this exact dish with every ingredient in just one day.

He’ll be able to taste it, touch it, smell it, but at no point will he be allowed to see this dish. Because he only has one day, we’re going to give him three lifelines, but there is a catch. Using them will dock points off his final score.

At the end of the day, we’ll come back to see his final creation, and I’ll be the judge. Yeah, it has this shrimpy smell that’s tomatoey, shrimpy, that has that level of seared crustacean shell thing happening.

So, okay, we’ve got some kind of a head-on shrimp or prawn situation. I feel like, anecdotally, a prawn is a large shrimp. In England, you’d referred to shrimp as a prawn, but then there are actual species called prawns like San Diego spot prawns.

There is a really specific type. Whoa. I wanna say it’s meat. The way it’s shredding apart, what is that? It just tastes chicken, but really? So then we have a softer shreddier one. Definitely, that tastes chicken.

Oh. So I’ve got what seems to be a squid ring. What I’m having a crisis about is, okay, is it more of a seafood and chicken paella, or is it more of a shrimp and dirty rice preparation? Paella is something that would be cooked without stirring with a very aromatic broth and then some amount of protein in it or placed on it.

But I tend to think of tomato, spices like paprika, maybe, chili. The rice has a very particular texture. These grains of rice are small but with a really pronounced little bite in the very center. I guess I wouldn’t associate dirty rice with this style of rice, which, to me, is more redolent of arborio or Bomba rice.

I guess I’m leaning more towards paella here. I feel like there has to be some aromatics in there. I feel like there has to be some garlic in there. There has to be some onion. But in terms of individual spices, ooh, yeah, I’m not picking up much there.

I’m a little nervous about this one. Woo! Okay, we’re making a shopping list. I think we’re going some kind of paella. All right, so I’ve got head-on prawns, squid bodies, boneless skinless chicken thighs, Bomba rice, garlic, onion, chicken broth, let’s assume paprika, but I didn’t get smoke, just regular ass paprika, maybe tomato paste.

I think we need a little bit of brightness. Yeah, okay, let’s put some white wine in this. Anything past here, I’m like, “Ooh, I’m stuck.” I’m really fishing around. Salt, pepper. Didn’t get dried herb in the oregano world.

Didn’t get fresh herb, really, for that matter. Didn’t get fresh herb as a garnish. This list sucks. This list feels wrong. All right, so this is my list such as it is. Our culinary team’s gonna go out, shop for these ingredients, and then I’ll get my first crack at recreating it.

Whatever this dish is, Summer got back here quickly, I have to say, with some Bomba rice and paella pan, and the pan looks it’s been used. So I don’t know. Case closed? Let’s assume we need to start by making our broth situation.

We have tail-on head-on shrimp. We need to take the shell off the bodies. Were they deveined? Let’s assume they were deveined. In a shrimp, there’s a bloodline and a digestive line. You just wanna remove it in case there’s something there.

If you wanna think of it as the poop chute, you can. So the head of the shrimp actually has a ton of flavor in it. It’s full of just all kinds of juicy gooey bits. Yeah, you want that in there for flavor.

Right, and this is the part where I pretty much just guess and make up. I’m calling garlic and I’m calling onion ’cause we gotta put something in there. But did I ever feel a piece of… Did I ever feel a piece of garlic or onion? No, but the flavors make sense.

What do we think, neutral oil or olive oil? Maybe olive oil, right? So we’re starting the broth here. That is a little bit of olive oil. I want this to be pretty hot. I wanna sear those shells, and I wanna get some color on them.

So the shells, really, they’re gonna intensify the flavor by searing them as opposed to just simmering down and liquid. All, so that’s that. Get our aromatics in here. I don’t really wanna brown the onion, necessarily, or the garlic.

I just wanna sweat t out a little bit more gently at this point. Gonna throw a pinch of salt in there just to make sure we’re releasing as much liquid as we can, breaking down the onion. Chicken broth is going in.

We’ll see. We’ll taste it in a sec. I was presented with this paella cooking pan. It’s a very distinctive pan that’s pretty much only used for this one thing. Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever used one before.

So I wanna put a little bit of onion in here as well. I wanna build sweetness. I wanna build flavor. So we’re gonna put some onion and garlic in there as well. This paella cooking pan is increasing your surface area, your cooking surface.

It’s gonna promote extra evaporation. Is that a good thing? I assume so. I don’t want it going too fast. I don’t know. I’m hedging. All right, so this is sweating out nicely, like I said, treating the heat very gently.

It’s really good. Honestly, considering there’s about six shrimp shells in there or something, it’s surprisingly and shockingly shrimpy, and I think browning the shrimp really unlocks that level of depth and complexity to the flavor.

Okay, so we have a mild paprika. Interesting. These are both smoked. We’re gonna keep moving just cause this garlic and onion mixture is gonna wanna start to color on me. Not using a lot of this, maybe a half teaspoon.

Double concentrated tomato paste in the tube is just so where it’s at. Tomato paste gives you color, and it gives you flavor concentration. It gives you a certain depth that’s really pleasant but without pieces of tomato, which I certainly didn’t taste in the original dish, and without a lot of excess liquid, whereas a canned tomato, you’re gonna have lots of acid.

Again, this is borrowing more technique from risotto cooking which is something I’m much more familiar with, but we’re just gonna go for it. I wanna toast that rice in the hot fat. This technique is called toasting or parching, and it’s a way of a little bit like enhancing the flavor of the rice itself and just giving it a very light toast.

But then also, it has been said, I don’t know if this is just old grandma wisdom, but parching the grains that makes them literally thirsty. Is there wine in paella? I guess there is now, right? Wine, it’s gonna bring acidity.

My confidence level is going down, but I’m actually having a better and better time. This is where can get out of control. Let’s start by cutting up the chicken. I dunno. Everything’s feeling wrong to me right now, actually.

I’m putting in the chicken. I’m just gonna let this cook for a minute while I strain out my broth. It’s gotta go. All right, there’s our broth strained. I’m not gonna add all of it at once, but I wanna keep a consistent heat.

I feel like you don’t really wanna stir it that much. – Why do you say that? – I don’t know. I just feel I have this perception of paella. You want to create a crust on the bottom, right? The whole notion of socarrat where you have this crust, not that I tasted crust in the original dish, but it’s like, I don’t know.

Maybe it was there and I just didn’t get it ’cause I’m not special enough. The chicken is cooking in. We’re gonna wait now. Here’s the thing. However right or wrong I am about the original dish in most cases, I feel like at the end of the day, I usually at least produce something that’s good, and I have not really done that here.

I just feel let’s not waste the shrimp and whatever else. This, I think, is not going the direction that we wanna go. I wanna score myself now. We’re calling incomplete on this round.

There was no point in putting in all that beautiful seafood when it was just not headed in the right direction. There is flavor there, but the original dish, massively more rich, fat, intensity, flavor, everything.

We need to crank this up. I think we’re gonna go all incompletes. I feel this is gonna be one of those rare instances where the sequel is better than the original, “Bad Boys II” level improvement on the original.

I’m gonna come back hopefully stronger for the second round of this and see where we get. Okay, but that José Andrés thing was amazing, though, right? Yeah, we just had a short Q&A with José Andrés centered on his work with the World Central Kitchen, and mind blowing just what an inspirational person he is and just how many people he’s fed in areas where governments just haven’t really been able to deliver.

Great, well, on we go with the unicorn mask and other important work, what? Whew, man, it’s so shrimpy. Yeah. Definitely, we’re deveined. This shrimp has seen direct heat.

I think they’ve been browned off and not just folded into the rice. I dunno, after the shrimp, that’s just the absence of flavor. I’m still going with that being chicken, but these squares of it are what freak me out.

How is anything this square with these faceted pieces? It’s rendered. The fact that there isn’t just an herb or anything in this is blowing my mind. There’s an intensity and a depth of flavor there that was completely missing from mine.

I want more garlic, and I want more onion, but I don’t know that I want to start putting other vegetables into it. I think wine was a bad call, but I need a fuller flavored broth.

I need more shrimp, and I need to cook the shrimp directly in the paella pan, and I think same thing with the chicken. – Let me just ask you before you start. If you had to guess, do any chefs come to mind who could’ve made this? – Well, now I’m obviously thinking José Andrés, right? I’m just getting some more shrimp shells to cook out for my broth.

I think a little direct heat on this chicken is also gonna make a good bit of difference in terms of rendering out this fat that we’ve got here. It really felt like it had probably seen some direct heat in the skillet.

Now, whether that means it goes in before the rice or after, not entirely sure. Let’s see if Andy got in touch. Come on, Andy. Yes! Oh my gosh, and he’s in the test kitchen. – Yep. – Wow.

Wearing an apron and a ratty old shirt in the test kitchen. – Yep. – A year later and nothing has changed, right? – Nothing has changed, no. A little older, but. – Okay. Paella, head-on shrimp. – Yeah.

– Pretty sure it’s boneless skinless chicken thigh. – The shrimp and the chicken is a little bit of a tricky thing for me. – What is your aromatic base for paella? – I think of a Spanish sofrito. So that’s onion and pepper and garlic.

– Like a fresh chili? – Yeah, yeah. – Is there wine? Is there wine? – Yes, yes. – Andy, this is the most productive five minutes of my entire day. Thank you so much. That’s what I needed. That’s why you call Andy.

All right. So I’m gonna elect to take a lifeline. I’d to be handed an ingredient that I’m missing, particularly if it’s a pepper product of some sort. All right. So we have Nora or Noras chili peppers.

It begs the question, do these need to be rehydrated, or do they just get pulverized? Yeah, it’s a super fruity chili. I feel it’s gonna function much like paprika. I guess I’m gonna blend these, right? Going once, going twice.

So in the pot, I’m gonna be doing the shell reinforced chicken broth, and then on the left, I’m gonna be doing the paella base. I’m just trying to sweat it out a little bit without browning it too much.

Hold on. This is not what I wanted to do. Let’s do the shrimp first. We’re getting a more intense shrimp flavor and aroma by searing them off. I’m just gonna season them very lightly with salt.

Not too much, just some color, a little action. All right, so these are going to the side, and now we’re gonna do same thing with the chicken. All right, we’re gonna pull the chicken out.

It’s just lightly browned, but it’s gonna give me a little bit. I’m getting some fond on the paella pan, which is good, I think. Gonna calm the heat down a little bit, and then I wanna strain off my broth.

Extra shrimpy this time. This is where I’m putting in the Nora chilies, and I’m also gonna put in some of that smoked paprika. Blooming the paprika and the chilies in the hot fat, at least my intention is to really activate their flavor and aroma and really bloom it.

All right, we’re going with a little bit of tomato paste. We’re just doing it. I don’t know. I feel if you had a canned tomato, you’d get a piece of tomato in there. I guess it could be a puree. I feel like if Andy says wine, you stick with some wine.

So now I think our chicken can go back in. We’re in a simmer and wait situation right now, so we’re gonna check back in a few minutes, but I’m just leaving this alone right now. I’m just controlling the heat.

Okay, we’re gonna stir in squid. I’m trying to time the cooking and keep the cook super gentle at this point so that the shrimp can cook the rest of the way through, get their flavor into the dish, and at this point, hopefully we don’t really need to stir.

Rice is cooked. It’s certainly done. The squid’s done. We’re rolling. Tastes so much closer to right. I still don’t know if we’re 100% there, but it’s tasting pretty good damn to me. Feels a little bit incomplete without a garnish, but whatever, here we are.

Summer, if you have a Ziploc or something, I will take this home. – Awesome, yeah. I have containers. – Ingredients, I would say I’m at an 82. Technique, ooh, I’ll go back down to a 76 in honor of Philadelphia, woo! Appearance, an 85.

Taste, I think I’m not fully there. I say we’re at 85, 87. All right, so that averages out to 83, which I would call a B minus. This is the dish I’m gonna be presenting to Rhoda. I feel pretty good about it.

Yeah, this is it, so I hope I pulled this one out of the old hat. Hey, Rhoda. – Hi. How’s your vibe, Chris? – I need a seltzer and to sit down and not think about food for a few minutes. – Let’s talk about what you think this dish is and who might have created it.

– I’m thinking it’s José Andrés, and I think it’s paella. I think it’s seafood paella, and yet I believe there’s chicken in there, so here we are yet again. – You nailed it! – Yeah? – And I will tell you that we had no idea that we were gonna have a call with him today.

That was completely a coincidence. – Are you serious? – May I present to you José Andrés’ seafood paella. – Ah! – How does it look? – I think pretty good. – I think the keyword here is that it’s seafood paella, just seafood paella.

– Really? What is that? – Tell me about your protein choices. – Oh God, what have you done? What fish is that? – It is monkfish and tuna. – Aw, her. Tuna? Ah, well, I got shnookered because it didn’t really taste like anything and all I could taste was the shrimpy broth on it.

And the monkfish, that is a very particular texture. – So traditionally, seafood paella is just seafood, but I have seen recipes for paella that include chicken. How did you build your flavor? – Started with a base of onion, garlic, the Nora chili on the second test, smoked paprika, and then also put in a dab of tomato paste as well.

– What Jose does is he makes something that he calls salmora. That is garlic, it’s the dried chili pepper, the Nora, tomato, canned tomato, sugar, and smoked paprika, and he blends that, and then that goes into the rice dish.

Tomato paste might’ve done that work a little faster ’cause you had that concentrated flavor, but his recipe does start with the canned tomatoes. – I feel okay about the fact that I recreated a lot of those flavors, just a slightly different method.

– What did you do for your broth? – I seared out shrimp shells in olive oil and then just added chicken broth and just relied on the aromatics that were in there. – We purchased seafood broth from a seafood store.

You basically made a seafood stock yourself, Chris. I’m not gonna punish you. – Okay. – You got to the same place. You used your shrimp shells. I will not dock you for that. – White wine? – No wine. I’m tasting José’s.

I think that was the tuna. That’s Mr. Monkfish. Yeah. – Chicken of the sea, huh? – Chicken of the sea. – Okay, so let’s talk about the rice. There’s just one flavor that you were missing, important, very expensive.

– Saffron? – Okay, so for ingredients, we didn’t have the canned tomatoes. We didn’t have the sugar. We went with tomato paste instead. We didn’t get the monkfish – Sugar. – or the tuna. We missed saffron.

All right, all right. I’m gonna give you a 72 on ingredients. For technique, I’m going to give you a 90 – Ooh! – ’cause I feel you were on the right track. You knew what you were supposed to do. So we’re gonna go with the 90, and then for appearance, I think it looks pretty good.

I’m thinking like 92 for taste. I’m guessing about an 88. – Okay. I think the taste is fairly comparable, but yeah, I’m a little bit short. – Okay, so it’s an 86. – Huh, solid B. – So how are you feeling now? – I feel okay.

I feel okay. – Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot one thing here. Chris used the lifeline, which- – Oh, shoot! – Oh, damn! – Sorry, that brings you from an 86 to an 83. All right, Chris. – Lucky for you, Rhoda, in the words of Tim McGraw, you’re hard to stay mad at.

So thank you. – Appreciate that. – All right. – All right. I’ll talk to you soon. – Talk to you later. Hey, this is a cool journey. Honestly, it was a big day hearing from José and then cooking one of his dishes and getting fairly close but actually not even that close.

You know why I would make this again? Because Bomba rice is incredible. The texture on that is amazing. So yeah, I’m happy. I’m happy. I’m walking away real happy, actually. It was a good day. Summer’s got the decoy food going full throttle back there, just searing steaks to throw me off.

Bailey’s nuking water for no clear purpose but just to get in my head. Can anybody tell me that there’s anything in the microwave right now? Did you actually see her put something in? No, you didn’t, did you?

100 Comments