Spring has well and truly sprung in Marlborough, with the frosts of early October making way for reliable bursts of sunshine and warmth. Labour weekend historically marks a turning point in the season and this year has been no different. The promise of sunshine has seen our vineyard manager and viticulturist João Corbett reach for his diving gear and go in search of kai moana along the Marlborough coastline.
Our Raupo Creek vineyard sits 20km inland from the Marlborough coast, tucked up in the back of the Omaka Valley. But within a 30-minute drive, you can find yourself scouring the shores of a number of local beaches.
For those like João who know where to look - crayfish, mussels, paua, kina and oysters are all easy pickings. Here he shares a recent recipe, although most of us will need to raid the local fishmonger rather than a rockpool to recreate it.
CLASSIC PAELLA WITH MARLBOROUGH SAFFRON
Serves up to four
You will need
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads (we use Marlborough Saffron)
16 mussels, cleaned
400g raw prawns
100g chorizo, diced (we use Premium Game's wild pork version)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup olive oil
3 roasted red peppers, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 bay leaf
4 cloves garlic, crushed (we use Murphy's Marlborough garlic)
3 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock
Sea salt and pepper
1. Soak saffron threads in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 2 tablespoons hot water. Crush theads with the back of a spoon for faster extraction. Leave to sit for 5 minutes.
2. Coat the prawns in 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
3. If handling a live crayfish, wrap it in paper and place it in the freezer for 3 hours to render it insensible. Whilst chilled, dispatch it humanely with a spike or knife to the back of its neck.
4. Bring a large pot of water to the boil to blanch the crayfish. Once boiling, add the whole crayfish and cook for no more than 6 minutes, or until the shell has just turned pink. Remove the crayfish and set it aside.
5. Heat the remaining olive oil in a paella dish or large pan. When hot, add the diced chorizo, roasted peppers, onion, parsley and bay leaf. Soften for 5-8 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, cumin and the remaining 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika; cook for 30 seconds on a low-medium heat until fragrant. Add the rice and toast for 2-3 minutes until slightly browned.
6. Pour in the wine, lifting all the rice from the bottom of the pan. Stir in until the wine is fully absorbed. Add in the saffron mix and chicken stock, and stir until fully combined. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Add in the prawns, cover, and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
8. Cut the crayfish in half lengthways, retain the meat in the shell. Place this on top of the paella and add the mussels, placing them around the edge of the dish. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes until the mussels open. Remove from the heat, the shellfish should be tender and the bottom of the rice should form a light crust.
Uncover and present at the table in the paella pan, encouraging guests to serve themself. Add wedges of lemon and a glass of Zosia Pinot Noir Rose 2021 to compliment!