The Jakarta Post
Chef David Fernandez Losas of Gran Melia Jakarta cooks paella during an event at the hotel in South Jakarta on July 8. (Gran Melia Jakarta/File)
For those who are not familiar with Spanish cuisine, trying at least two of its signature dishes is a good way to start immersing yourself in the country's cuisine.
"Newcomers should try a Spanish omelet and paella; they're good for you," said 33-year-old chef David Fernandez Losas, who currently heads Gran Melia Jakarta's Spanish cuisine concept, in Jakarta on Sunday during a famtrip event.
Spanish omelet is a very simple dish, says Losas, as it is only made with three ingredients: olive oil, potato and eggs.
"It looks easy to make, but it is actually quite difficult as the dish needs to have good texture and soft filling," said Losas, adding that the omelet could be eaten any time, either breakfast or dinner.
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Meanwhile paella, which may remind you of Indonesia's nasi goreng (fried rice), is more complicated to make.
According to a recipe book shared by the hotel, paella requires ingredients such as calasparra rice, a variety of rice from Spain's Murcia region (or Japanese rice); chicken breast that is cut into 20-gram pieces; green beans that are cut in half; chicken stock; rosemary; saffron; chopped parsley; chopped garlic clothes; olive oil; salt and pepper; and sofrito.
The sofrito has to be prepared separately. The ingredients include chopped tomato; chopped onion; chopped peppers (seeds removed); smoked paprika; and chopped leeks. Put all the ingredients in an oven with a drizzle of olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper in a preheated oven at 172 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes. Slowly transfer the ingredients into a bowl and mix well, while it's still hot. Then put the mixture through a strainer to remove the chunks and chill in the refrigerator at 5 degrees Celsius for up to five days.
Now you're ready to make the paella. Preheat the paella pan (or the biggest frying pan you have) with a drizzle of olive oil and add the chicken for three to five minutes. Add the sofrito and season with salt. Add the green beans, rosemary and let it cook for five minutes. Now pour the rice over the mixture and stir well for another five minutes before adding the chicken stock with the saffron and let it cook for another 10 minutes. Add the parsley and garlic and stir the rice now and then until it's cooked.
Those who are interested in trying chef Losas' Spanish creations may consider Gran Melia Jakarta's new Chill 'N Grill at El Bombon Gourmet and Pastry, available every Wednesday from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. at Rp 188,000++ (US$13.13) for food, plus a welcome drink. Aside from paella, authentic tapas and al fresco barbecue, the service also provides choices of beer, wines and cocktails, as well as live DJ entertainment. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling +6221 526 8080 ext. 2337.