Discover the love of cooking, with this delicious Paella recipe that is inspired by the most popular dish that has its roots in Spanish culture. If you love cooking International food, you will fall in love with the simplicity and flavor of this comforting dish.
What is Paella?
The Spanish kitchen is a melting pot of ingredients, techniques and flavors. One of the most famous culinary dishes to come out of Spain is paella. This Valencia dish is an artful mixture of Spanish meat, seafood, and vegetables cooked together in one skillet on a burner. Paella is especially popular for a special occasion because it works for almost any type of diet- or gluten free.
- Products : onion, bell pepper, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, frozen peas.
- Spices : bay leaf, paprika, saffron, salt and pepper.
- Saffron : this is perhaps the most important ingredient, so it is best to buy good quality. If your grocery store doesn't carry it, try an international food market or Amazon. If necessary, substitute a teaspoon of saffron powder for the saffron.
- Seafood : jumbo shrimp, mussels, calamari.
- thighs : I prefer thighs to breasts in this recipe because they don't dry out as easily during the longer cooking times.
- Olive oil : Spanish olive oil, or any other good quality olive oil.
- Spanish rice : See my notes below about rice and possible substitutions.
- broth : For an authentic paella, you need to make your own fish broth with the shells of the seafood. I usually substitute broth, for convenience.
- 1/4 cup Extra virgin olive Oil (Spanish EVOO if you have it)
- 1 , diced
- 1 bell pepper , diced (I like to use ½ red and ½ green)
- 4 cloves Garlic
- 3 roma tomatoes , very finely diced (or 8 oz. sauce)
- Bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon paprika , sweet or smoked
- 1 pinch saffron threads*
- Salt and pepper
- 4 boneless , skinless thighs , cut into pieces*
- ¼ cup flat leaf Parsley chopped, divided
- 2 cups Spanish Rice*
- 5 cups Broth*
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- ½ lb Jumbo or prawns , about 12 – peeled, tail on
- 1/2 lb Mussels (about 10-12), cleaned properly (beards off)
- 8 oz calamari rings
- , for garnish
How to make a Spanish paella
1. Sauté: Add olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, peppers and garlic and sauté until is translucent. Add chopped tomato, bay leaf, paprika, saffron, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 10 minutes.
2. Add and rice. Add chopped parsley and cook for 1 minute.
3. Add broth. Slowly pour the broth around the pan and stir the pan so that the rice forms an even layer. (Do not stir the mixture as you go!). Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Shake the pan lightly back and forth once or twice during cooking.
Pan with sautéed vegetables, and rice, then add broth to make a paella.
4. Cook uncovered: Cook paella uncovered for 15-18 minutes, then nestle in the shrimp, mussels and calamari, sprinkle in the peas and continue cooking (without stirring) for about 5 more minutes. Make sure most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice on top is almost tender (if for some reason your rice is still not cooked, add ¼ cup more water or broth and continue cooking).
5. Cover and let rest. Remove pan from heat and cover pan with a lid or tinfoil. Place a kitchen towel over the lid and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
6. Serve. Garnish with fresh parsley and slices. Serve.
Rice for Paella
Spanish rice (also called "bomba" rice, calaspara rice, arroz redonda) is traditional in Paella, and is the one I recommend using. It's a short-grain rice that absorbs more water than regular rice, without becoming mushy. You can buy Spanish rice on Amazon or an international food market.
- Spanish Rice Substitution : If necessary, you can substitute medium grain rice, such as Calrose rice found at Walmart or most grocery stores. Reduce the broth in the recipe to a total of 3 ¾ cups (I do not recommend using Arborio or long grain rice for Paella).
- Do not wash the rice before cooking as we want to retain the outer layer of starch.
- Do not stir the rice during cooking ! Traditional paella cooks a crispy, flavorful layer of rice on the bottom of the pan, called the socarrat. The socarrat is a key element of authentic paella. Also, stirring the rice would make it mushy.
Seafood for Paella
If you don't like seafood, leave it out and replace it with and vegetables. You can use any combination of your favourite seafood, including clams, scallops and chopped fish. Frozen seafood is a great affordable option if you don't live near the ocean (Costco sells a great bag of mixed seafood in their freezer section with shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops and calamari). Be sure to thaw frozen seafood in the refrigerator overnight before using.
When buying fresh seafood, be sure to smell it to make sure it is fresh. It should not have a strong fishy smell. Most seafood used here will have no smell, or an ocean smell (slightly salty). Be sure to clean them properly (remove the "beards" from the mussels, if necessary).
Do I need a paella pan?
No, you can use a regular large skillet to make paella (I use a 12×2 inch pan and this recipe fills it to the brim). Traditional paella is cooked in a large paella pan because it allows the rice to spread out in a thin layer and cook more evenly.