Helen’s sliced beef, fennel, mushroom, leek mini paella

Dinner for one

I have got a small cast iron pan. Thought I should use it either wise a waste and taking up space if I don’t use it. Cooking paella in it is a great challenge. I like the idea of putting my culinary skill and explore the combination of food as a challenge. Also love to explore on the method and in this case using a small cast iron.

Glad that it turned out well. After all, I am eating alone. It’s a trial and error as well as cute to have an individual cast iron meal. It’s delicious, comforting and flavourful. My culinary skill is executed perfectly. Let’s cook!!!


30 g beef rump, sliced long strip
1 Tsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp hot paprika
1 Tsp cumin
2 Tsp coriander
salt and freshly ground pepper
6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 inch leek, slice thinly
3 Tbs fennel, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 quarter red onion, diced
1/4 cup medium grain rice
a few saffron threads
1 to 1 1/2 cups water, hot
2 small buttons mushroom, quartered


Mix the oregano, cumin, coriander and paprika with some salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the strip of beef; marinate for 1 hour so the flavour can sink in a bit. Heat the olive oil in the mini individual cast-iron pot over medium heat. Place the beef in the pot, and brown on all sides, turning with tongs until the oil is a vibrant yellow colour. Remove the beef to a platter lined with paper towels.

Return the pot to the stove and lower the heat. Make a sofrito by sauteing the garlic, onion, fennel and leek; cook until the mixture caramelizes a bit and the flavours melt; season with salt and pepper. Fold in the rice, stirring to coat the grains. Stir the saffron into the rice. Pour in the water and simmer for 7-10 minutes, until the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. Do not cover or constantly stir like risotto.

Add the reserved beef and mushrooms. Give the paella a couple of good stir to tuck in some of the pieces and just let it simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, about 20 minutes, until the paella looks fluffy and moist. The ideal paella has a toasted rice bottom called socarrat. Allow to rest, off the heat for 5 minutes.