Paella, pa’ mi y pa’ ti. This Spanish dish is one that is meant to be enjoyed surrounded by loved ones. There’s no wrong way to enjoy this dish: you can have it with seafood, meats like chorizo and chicken or even cooked in squid ink. Paella is a rice dish with reported origins from the region of Valencia, Spain, and is one of the most well-known and loved dishes of the European country. The term paella translates to "frying pan" in Valencian (Valencia's regional language) and can be traced back to the mid-19th century (so think 1850s).
There are three versions of the rice dish that are most known: paella valenciana (Valencian paella), paella de marisco (seafood paella) and paella mixta (mixed paella). Paella valenciana normally consists of round grain rice, varieties of green beans, rabbit, chicken, sometimes duck, a variety of lima or butter bean. Olive oil is used as a base, with saffron and (on occasion) whole rosemary branches are used as seasoning. Paella de marisco replaces all the meat with seafood and omits the beans and green vegetables. Paella mixta combines meat, seafood, vegetables and beans cooked with the traditional rice.
Spanish Paella Recipe
- 2 cups of paella rice (bomba, senia or bahia)
- 3 cups of seafood or fish stock
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup of canned diced tomatoes
- ½ cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined (they sell these frozen)
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 1 pound mussels (can be bought fresh or frozen)
- ¼ pound calamari tubes, sliced into rings
- 6 ounces white fish (halibut, cod or seabass)
- 1 red romano or bell pepper, cut into thick strips
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
- 1 tsp sweet pimentón (sweet smoked paprika)
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges (for decorating)
- Place paella pan on stove, low heat, and allow to heat up (food cooks more evenly).
- Clean and prep the veggies and seafood; set aside in separate bowls (vegetables can be set in same bowl).
- Add 1 tablespoon of EVOO or paella skillet and allow to heat up (it’s ready when you can see ripples in the oil).
- Pat your white fish of choice dry with a paper towel and season with salt. Coat the fish with two tablespoons of flour and sear it for about 1 minute on each side to create a crispy golden crust. The fish will still be raw on the inside, but it’ll finish cooking in the paella. Remove from heat and cut into bite-size cubes; set aside.
- Wipe paella skillet and add another 3 tablespoons of EVOO. Sauté 3 minced cloves of garlic until golden brown but don’t let the oil dry up. Remove remaining garlic infused EVOO into a separate container and set aside.
- Heat broth/stock in separate saucepan until it begins to simmer (small bubbles form at the bottom, not a rolling boil like is needed for pasta). Add in sweet pimentón and stir to combine. Remove from heat and allow to steep for about 10 minutes.
- Take paella pan and raise heat level to medium. Add EVOO to gently coat paella pan. Note that EVOO has a low burn index, if it starts to smoke lower heat.
- Add onions to pan and cook until translucent. Add pepper and cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add canned tomato and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Slowly add in rice to veggie mixture and stir until rice is mixed with the sautéed vegetables. Once combined, spread the rice so that it makes a thin layer around the pan (completely covering it).
- Pour about half of the broth mixture onto the rice until it is fully covered. Once broth is added DO NOT stir the rice, allow for liquid to be completely absorbed. If you find the need to redistribute liquid, simply shuffle the pan from side-to-side.
- Begin to evenly distribute seafood across pan and allow to cook for 10 minutes. Mussels and clams are cooked when shells are open, throw out any that do not open. If rice appears muddy, add small amounts of broth to help dissipate.
- Add peas and allow to cook.
- Once remaining broth has absorbed and seafood has cooked, remove pan from heat.
- Take garlic/EVOO mixture from earlier and heat for a minute. Drizzle heated mixture onto paella. Top with parley and lemon wedges.
- Serve and enjoy!
Make sure to eat the “burnt” bits on the pan — some would say it’s the best part of the dish!