Paella with 'Land Shrimp'

I cried the first time I saw a waxworm. I had just bought my first honeybee hive secondhand, and after a full year of classes, books, and prep I was so ready to clean that thing up and get started. When I got it home, I realised it was filled with the unmistakable long thin tubes of wax moth larvae. I should’ve known: the hive had been empty for a full year and I’d ‘bought’ it in barter for chickens, so there was no reason to expect excellency. Still, waxworms can be be a real problem, and they still show up in all three of my hives to this day.

Less than two years later, I grow waxworms in jars in my bedroom and wish I had more.  It turns out that beekeeping and eating insects pair quite well. Finding Waxmoth larvae isn’t such a sad waste of wax if you can start a new little colony of “land shrimp” as some call these delicacies. This summer I’m going to eat my drone larvae too, but that’s another story.

paella_waxworms.jpg

Photo: Chelsea Thomas

To celebrate BUGSfeed’s Week of the Waxworm, I’ve created a special paella combining ‘land shrimp’ with other invertebrates: Georgia white shrimp, clams, and squid. For a time-saving twist, I’ve used pre-prepared rice, but I’ll provide instructions for this and a more traditional preparation.

There are three 3 parts to the paella: a broth, an herb blend, and the rice dish.  You’ll need a paella pan (or any large cast-iron pan), a sauce pan, many bowls, and a towel.

Ingredients

Broth:

  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp saffron threads
  • 2 (8oz) bottles of clam juice

Herb blend:

  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1 tbsp coarse salt
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 saffron threads

Paella:

  • ½ lb squid tubes (cleaned and cut in rings – use scissors)
  • ½ lb shrimp (shelled and de-veined)
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups uncooked Arborio rice (or pre-cooked Spanish-style rice)
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 16 - 22 little neck clams
  • 1 (7 oz) jar sliced pimiento, drained (you won’t use all)
  • ½ lemon

paella_1.jpg

Photo: Chelsea Thomas

Instructions

Prepare broth:

  • Combine all broth ingredients in a sauce pan
  • Bring to a simmer (do NOT boil)
  • Keep warm over low heat, stirring rarely

Prepare herb blend:

  • Grind saffron and tarragon into coarse salt
  • Combine parsley and minced garlic cloves
  • Add salt into parsley and garlic
  • Mix in lemon and olive oil

Paella:

  • Hours before cooking:
    • Place clams in bowl of cold water, set aside (they will ‘spit out’ sand)
    • Place waxworms in freezer, remove 10 minutes before cooking
  • Heat olive oil in paella pan over medium heat
  • Add shrimp, squid, and waxworms, cook for one minute (they should not be fully cooked yet)
  • Remove shrimp, squid, and waxworms from pan, set aside (keep warm)
  • Add onion, sauté for 5 minutes
  • Stir in paprika, crushed red pepper, and minced garlic, cook for 5 minutes
  • Add rice (pre-cooked or new) and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly

paella_2.jpg

Photo: Chelsea Thomas
  • Stir in broth, herb blend, and peas
  • Bring to low boil and cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently
  • Add clams to pan, nestling them into the rice mixture, cook 5 minutes, or until shells open
  • Discard any unopened clams at this point
  • Gently fold in the seafood-and-waxworm mixture

paella_closeup.jpg

Photo: Chelsea Thomas
  • Cook for 5 minutes:
    • Test rice at this point, it should be mostly cooked (fairly soft). If still crunchy, simmer longer. If using pre-cooked rice, this is plenty of time and your rice will probably end up a little softer than usual.
  • Arrange pimiento slices on top of rice mixture,
  • Squeeze half a lemon over paella
  • Remove from heat
  • Cover with towel
  • Let stand for 10 minutes

paella_done.jpg

Photo: Chelsea Thomas

Serve warm with Spanish wine.

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