Prawns go incredibly well with paella rice, their sweet yet robust flavour pairs incredibly well with the aromatic flavour of saffron and the smokey notes of Spanish paprika. What is the secret to a tasty paella? A good quality stock made from the prawn heads and shells which will transfer the rich prawn flavour to the rice. Paella dishes are in essence flavoured rice, so ensuring that you have a good quality stock is essential. In this dish, I use carabinero prawns, one of the most sought after prawns in professional kitchens worldwide. Beautiful carabineros are a large deep-sea prawn species that hail from the Eastern Atlantic into the Mediterranean sea. Known by a plethora of names, to the Spanish and Portuguese as Carabineros, to the English as Scarlet Shrimp or Cardinal Prawns, and to the French as the Crevette Imperiale, they are renowned for their jumbo size and striking bright red colour. Carabinero translates literally as police, reputedly because the colour of their shells matched the uniforms of Spanish customs police. Yet, their distinct red colour does not change when cooked, as does a lobster shell from blue to red when boiled. More distinct and robust in flavour than other shrimps or langoustines, they are also appreciated for their large size. While their meat is mainly concentrated in the tail, their cephalothoraxes (head and body) are not to be overlooked, and are excellent for making clear and creamed soups and sauces to which it adds flavour and red colour. None of this prawn should go to waste, as Spanish consider the flavour of their heads as a delicacy.
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