NoCal Paella, With a Sino-Japanese Stopover

By Paul Angelillo | Megan Swann

By

Paul Angelillo
Megan Swann
Spanish Fried Rice: Chorizo, Tortilla Española, Sepia, and Bonito
Spanish Fried Rice: Chorizo, Tortilla Española, Sepia, and Bonito

At Aatxe, Chef Ryan Pollnow endeavors to treat “NoCal as if it were a region of Spain,” but he isn’t afraid to look further East for inspiration. Though Pollnow loved the shared experience of eating paella, he found the traditional pan limited his kitchen to just a few orders at a time. Instead, he embraced a technique “much closer to Chinese-American fried rice.” The chef starts by cooking Valencian bomba rice in saffron tea before sautéing it in a custom, heavy-bottom cazuela with chorizo, sofrito, sepia, peas, and slices of potato-onion-bonito torta until a layer of socarrat forms on the base of the ceramic. He finishes the rice with Espelette, sepia ink aïoli, lemon, and seductively swaying bonito flakes. It’s an ingenious melange that’s part tortilla Española, part Japanese okonomiyaki, part Chinese fried rice, and all Aatxe. 

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