Having had our first encounter with a cataplana at The Wheelhouse in Falmouth, we'd been longing to try cooking with one ourselves for ages, but the price for a new copper vessel - approaching £100 for a medium-sized one, with shipping from Portugal - seemed rather steep for an occasional cooking pot. Step up, eBay: we managed, against all hope, to secure one for thirty quid including delivery and, having eventually de-lacquered it, finally got to grips with cataplana cooking last weekend. This is the sort of recipe that can be found in various places online, but I'll note my own variations, nevertheless.
Serves 2, very comfortably!
One chorizo sausage, approx 200g, cut in large chunks. The picante from SpainSun is perfect here
Twenty raw king prawns, in the shell, preferably intact
A medium-sized Spanish onion, roughly chopped
Six large, ripe tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped, juice reserved (or a 400g tin)
A good handful of paella rice
Two cloves of garlic, minced
A red pepper, roughly chopped
A teaspoon of smoked paprika
A pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
Wine - a glass each of red and white
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan for which you have a lid. Fry the chorizo gently for a few minutes till it begins to brown and release its oil. Remove the sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon. Add the onion to the pan, letting it soften, and then add the garlic for a couple of minutes. Next stir in the tomato puree, red pepper and spices and cook for a minute, then add the red wine and tomatoes. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer gently for thirty minutes. After twenty minutes, stir in the rice and season well.
Once the sauce is cooked, transfer to the cataplana and stir in the white wine. Lay the prawns on top - don't push them down - check the seasoning and seal the lid, allowing it to steam on a very low heat for around ten to twelve minutes, depending on the size of the prawns.
Serve in the cataplana, with finger bowls and perhaps with bread.