Recipe: Seafood Paella
Serves 2 | Prep Time 1/4 hour | Resting Time 10 minutes | Cooking Time 45 minutes total
Please note that during the corona virus pandemic some of these ingredients may be difficult to find. Feel free to substitute. For example, Trader Joe’s sells a bag of seafood blend that while not optimal will yield good results. Also, please try to order the saffron online ahead of time if at all possible. Consult with Chef Daniel for other possible substitutions.
- 2/3 cups paella rice (can be substituted, in a pinch, for other short grain rices, although not ideal). We buy ours online through Amazon, sometimes Whole Foods, depending on where you are, will carry the paella rice.
- 6 shrimp with the shells on, 2 or 3 per person
- 4 mussels, 2 per person (optional, these days it would be hard to get them fresh)
- 4 clams, 2 per person (optional, these days it would be hard to get them fresh)
- 1 small onion, very finely diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper very finely diced or piquillo peppers (found jarred in several good markets such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s)
- 1 small can of San Marzano or other good quality canned tomatoes, pureed
- 6 cloves garlic minced.
- abundant olive oil
- 1 tsp smoked spanish paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp saffron
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1.75 cups of thick chicken or fish stock
- Heat up the olive oil in your paella pan.
- Cook the shrimp to flavor the oil until just slightly pink and set set aside (optional.)
- Add your red pepper and onions and cook slowly until translucent and shiny.
- Push all the vegetables to the sides. In the center of the pan add a little bit of olive oil, and cook your garlic in it for about 30 seconds. When it becomes fragrant stir in the rest of the ingredients, which stops the rapid
- Push everything to the sides again. Add tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until they lost a lot of their water and are starting to caramelize.
- Add the rice and coat well. Cook for a minute or two, allowing the rice to toast a little bit.
- The ratio is 1 part rice to 2 parts liquid, depending on the rice used (Calasparra paella rice needs a larger ratio, about 1 to 4). Mix in the spices, stir well and taste.
- Add to the paella pan and bring to a hard boil for about 2 to 3 minutes.
- If using mussels and clams add them at this point.
- Bring the heat down so the paella is simmering at a good clip.
- The heat needs to be as even as possible so if you need to, move your pan around several times through the cooking process, to achieve even cooking.
- Start testing your rice as early as 10 minutes into the cooking process.
- These should open after about 5 minutes, although sometimes they take longer.
- If by the end of cooking any of the mussels or clams has not opened, discard as they are not safe to eat.
- About 15 minutes after the paella is simmering add the shrimp into the paella pan and allow them to cook for a couple of minutes, then flip and cook on the other side.
- When the shrimp is cooked add the squid. When cooked it will become opaque and curl slightly in.
- Add other pieces of seafood such as fish.
- Turn the heat on really high moving your paella around every 10 seconds to allow a rice crust to form at the bottom.
- Turn off the heat and cover for 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve with a wedge of lemon and squirt a bit on the paella. Lemon will help brighten the dish.
- Enjoy with a good Rioja.
Paella is perhaps the best known of dishes from Spain. The most important ingredients are the paella rice and saffron, both of which were introduced to Spain by the Moors during their 800 year occupation of the Iberian peninsula.
Traditions and disagreements abound about how to make a good paella. Paella rice and saffron are essential, but the rest of the ingredients are best left to the cook’s imagination.
Paella rice is short grain and similar in look to arborio, used for risotto, or Japanese rice used in sushi. It differs in the way it responds to cooking. It does not expel as much starch instead it absorbs a lot of liquid. Each grain of rice will contain the flavor of the whole paella.
The rice cooks unstirred for the entire process except at the very beginning when you are mixing the stock.
This is because we always strive to produce socarrat, the crunchy rice that develops at the bottom of the pan.
We calculate about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of rice per person. This measurement determines the size of your paella pan. A paella for four people would need at least 1 whole cup of rice, which needs to spread out thinly on the bottom of the pan. Consequently for four people you would need a paella which is about 12 inches in size. For 15 to 18 people, you would need a pan about 22 inches in size and so on.
Because we cook the rice uncovered, there is going to be more evaporation than in traditional methods. For most rices we use one part rice to 1.5 parts liquid. In paella we need more liquid: 2 parts liquid for Bomba rice and up to 4 parts liquid for Calasparra rice.
The challenge for cooking paella is to heat it evenly. There are several methods you can use. At home and without special equipment you would cook it over 2 burners, if making a medium size paella, and rotate throughout the cooking so every part of the paella will be cooked.
You can also do this over a grill, controlling the heat to produce even results.
In Spain it is common to have a special burner with concentric rings that automatically distributes heat evenly.
Learn to make this and much more during our cooking class :