Arroz a Banda

Paella with Fish in Two Acts

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Racion


Appears in


By Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish

Published 2007

  • About

While some dishes are based on regional produce and others on seasonal bounty, I believe this dish has its roots in the Spanish national characteristic of impatience. Arroz a banda is a way of making the fish stock for the paella and having beautifully poached fish ready to eat while the paella is cooking.

Ask your fishmonger to clean, scale and remove the fins from the fish. We use whole cleaned fish but large rockling and monkfish fillets can be used where available.


  • 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) cleaned whole snapper
  • 400 g (14 oz) cleaned whole red mullet
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) skinless firm white fish fillet, such as skate
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) olive oil
  • 2 brown onions, diced
  • 8 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 8 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1.25 litres (44 fl oz/5 cups) fish stock
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Spanish sweet paprika
  • 300 g (10½ oz) sofrito
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) Calasparra rice
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 handful flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • fine sea salt
  • 1 handful flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, extra, roughly chopped
  • 200 g (7 oz) alioli


Rinse the fish and pat dry with paper towel. Season the inside of each whole fish with a little salt.

Heat half of the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and cook the onion, tomato and half of the garlic for about 15 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent, stirring occasionally. Place the whole fish and fish fillet on the onion and tomato and add the stock, making sure most of the fish is covered. Add more water if necessary to cover them. Season the stock with a little salt and add the bay leaves.

When the stock begins to boil, reduce to a gentle simmer (it should be barely simmering, if at all). Gently poach the fish for 20 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through then remove, cover with foil and keep warm.

In a paella pan or large, deep frying pan, fry the remaining garlic in the rest of the olive oil over medium heat until the garlic is golden brown. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon. Add the paprika and sofrito and fry for 1 minute.

Add the rice, stirring to coat well with the sofrito. Cook for 2 minutes until the rice just starts to become translucent. Strain 1.5 litres (52 fl oz/6 cups) of the fish stock over the rice. Stir through, bring to the boil over high heat then reduce to a simmer. If the flame or element doesn’t cover the base of the pan move the pan around during cooking to ensure that the paella cooks evenly.

Meanwhile, make a little picada by pounding the saffron, fried garlic and parsley using a mortar and pestle until it forms a rough paste and add immediately to the simmering paella. Stir through.

Cook on low–medium for 20 minutes, without stirring, until most of the stock has been absorbed. In the last minute, increase the heat to high to help form a socorat (crust) on the bottom of the pan. Cover with a clean tea towel (dish towel) and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Carefully transfer the fish to a baking dish, cover and reheat in a 200°C (400°F/Gas 6) oven for 3–5 minutes or until hot. Serve the fish on a warm serving plate and refresh by spooning over any cooking juices that may have settled while being kept warm. Dress with a little fine sea salt and the extra parsley.

Serve the fish with the alioli while the rice is resting. Then serve the rice.