Seafood paella

by Tom Hunt

A delicious fish-based recipe for less than £10

This recipe came about as part of my mission to create a dish with high quality fish and seafood, for less than £10. It will make a 39cm paella pan for 4-6 people—if you only have a smaller frying pan, then reduce the ingredients in relation to the size of your pan. When making a paella, it’s best to have everything prepared and in place, with everything chopped, portioned and weighed out. 


1 head of hake (£1)
1 small bulb of fennel with tops, bulb diced, tops roughly chopped (60p)
3 runner beans (40p)
1 tomato (20p)
1 ñora pepper, roughly chopped (40p)
1 clove of garlic (optional)
8 whelks (£1)
500g bomba rice (£2.95)
¼g saffron (£3.50 for 1g)


Make the stock in advance or the day before. Place the hake head in a tight fitting saucepan, add the trimmings from the fennel, tops of the runner beans, and stalks from the tomato and ñora pepper. Add a garlic clove if using. Cover with 1 litre of water and bring to the boil.

Cut the tomato in half and grate the fleshy side against a grater until left with the skin. Put the grated tomato pulp into a bowl in the fridge for later and add the skin to the stock. Reduce the heat as soon as it boils to a slow simmer and leave for 30 mins.

Take off the heat and carefully remove the head onto a plate. Strain the rest of the stock through a sieve and keep to one side. Compost the remaining trimmings. Pick all of the meat from the head into a bowl and compost the bones.

Next, cook the whelks. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Drop the whelks into the water, return to the boil, turn off the heat and leave for 5 mins. Remove the whelks from the water and pull out of their shells. Remove the shell on the end of the foot and lose the sack on the other end. Chop the whelks into slices and give the shells a rinse.

To make the paella, start by lighting a fire or barbecue with plenty of fuel. If you do not have a barbecue or if you want to cook the paella inside, it is perfectly fine to cook it on the hob.

If you are cooking on a fire or barbecue, wait until it has burnt down to embers. Otherwise, put your paella pan or large frying pan on a medium heat. Fry the tomato pulp and chopped ñora pepper with olive oil for 5 mins or until it starts to thicken.

Add the chopped whelks, runner beans, chopped fennel and half of the chopped fennel tops. Fry gently for 5 mins. If it gets too hot, simply remove it from the heat for 1 min. Add the rice and fry for a further 2 mins. Now stir in the fish and saffron and season heavily.

Spread the rice and fish evenly around the paella pan. After this stage, don’t stir the rice again to allow it to set. Pour the stock on top of the rice—it should be about 1cm over the top of the rice, if it is not add a little boiling water to top it up. Taste the stock and add seasoning if necessary, but don’t stir. Decorate the top with the whelk shells.

When the rice hits the surface of the stock, set your timer for 12 mins. If you are cooking on a fire and it is too hot, remove the paella from the heat for 1 min every now and again and remove any burning logs from the fire. After 12 mins, if the liquid has evaporated, cover the paella with foil. Leave for a further 2 mins, then remove from the heat and put in place to serve within 5 mins.

Recipe: Tom Hunt