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January 2013 Issue
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Campfire paella

Paella cooked over a driftwood fire - YUM! Photo: Mark Banham

It’s summer! Which means it’s time to dust off the kayak and the fishing rod, stock up on sauvignon blanc and head to the beach. For me that means two things: driftwood campfires (I usually try to avoid them in the bush) and hunter-gatherer food. This paella, traditionally cooked over a campfire, is a great use of the former and example of the latter.


Serves: Two

Weight: 1000g

Volume:  750ml

Kilojoules: 14,000

Cost: $15

Time: 30min

Fuel: 12 medium sized pieces of driftwood.


250g (1 cup) bomba rice


1 large capsicum

12 mussels and/or pippis

1 medium-sized kowhai or blue cod, filleted and diced

2 rashers of bacon (optional)

1 chopped finely

2 cloves crushed garlic

6 asparagus stems

1 cup white wine

500ml (approx) water

¼ cup tomato paste

Turmeric (you can use saffron if you’re wanting to be authentic)

Parsley, lemon and cracked pepper to garnish.


Steam the mussels open in a cupful of white wine, remove the beards and set aside. Filter the remaining water (if a sieve isn’t handy any bit of fabric you’re not planning on wearing the next day will do). Bring the olive oil up to heat and add the bacon, onions, garlic and then the capsicum. Fry to taste then add the rice. Allow the rice to absorb the oil and fry for a few minutes.

Add the mussel cooking water, tomato paste and turmeric (or saffron if you’re keen), stirring constantly. Once that’s absorbed gradually add the rest of the water. When all the water’s absorbed add the asparagus and the fish, simmer until the fish is firm but flaky, then add salt and pepper to taste and serve with parsley and lemon.