Classic Seafood Paella

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This tasty feast is widely regarded as Spain’s national dish, but most Spaniards consider it to be a regional Valencian dish.  I saw a lot of paella being served up at markets throughout France and interesting enough, even though we all regard it as a Spanish dish, the word paella is derived from an old French word paelle for pan, which in turn comes from the Latin word patella for pan as well.  Valencians use the word paella for all pans, including the special shallow pan used for cooking paella.  Sorry, but I love learning the history of food!

I’ve been making paella for over 10 years and each time I prepare it, I ask myself why I don’t serve this spectacular dish more often.  There are so many variations of paella, but the secret to authentic paella includes using real saffron, pimentón (smoked paprika) and bamba rice.  Bamba rice is tricky to find so sometimes so I use arborio rice as a substitute.

The other secret to a good paella is cooking the sofrito slowly to a sweet, deeply flavored stew, and letting the rice bottom turn crackly and crunchy like a bottom crust.  That brings me to the paella pan…it’s worth investing in a good paella pan.  I started out with a traditional Valencian pan but now I’m concocting my paella in the new Le Creuset paella pan I treated myself to in November.  I’m obsessed with this pan and even have it hanging on a wall in my kitchen where I can admire it daily.

Ok, let’s talk about the variations for a minute before we dig into the recipe.  Paella can be made as a vegetable only paella; a seafood only dish, a mixed paella mostly I’ve seen chicken and seafood.  And then there’s a pork paella where you can use pork spare ribs along with a smokey sausage.

Oh boy, I’m getting hungry, let’s get started with the recipe.This tasty feast is widely regarded as Spain’s national dish, but most Spaniards consider it to be a regional Valencian dish.  I saw a lot of paella being served up at markets throughout France and interesting enough, even though we all regard it as a Spanish dish, the word paella is derived from an old French word paelle for pan, which in turn comes from the Latin word patella for pan as well.  Valencians use the word paella for all pans, including the special shallow pan used for cooking paella.  Sorry, but I love learning the history of food!

I’ve been making paella for over 10 years and each time I prepare it, I ask myself why I don’t serve this spectacular dish more often.  There are so many variations of paella, but the secret to authentic paella includes using real saffron, pimentón (smoked paprika) and bamba rice.  Bamba rice is tricky to find so sometimes so I use arborio rice as a substitute.

The other secret to a good paella is cooking the sofrito slowly to a sweet, deeply flavored stew, and letting the rice bottom turn crackly and crunchy like a bottom crust.  That brings me to the paella pan…it’s worth investing in a good paella pan.  I started out with a traditional Valencian pan but now I’m concocting my paella in the new Le Creuset paella pan I treated myself to in November.  I’m obsessed with this pan and even have it hanging on a wall in my kitchen where I can admire it daily.

Ok, let’s talk about the variations for a minute before we dig into the recipe.  Paella can be made as a vegetable only paella; a seafood only dish, a mixed paella mostly I’ve seen chicken and seafood.  And then there’s a pork paella where you can use pork spare ribs along with a smokey sausage.

Oh boy, I’m getting hungry, let’s get started with the recipe.

Classic Seafood Paella
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You can use any mix of your favorite seafood. Like all great chefs, we never follow a recipe verbatim so use you imagination.
Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Classic Seafood Paella
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Yum
Print Recipe
You can use any mix of your favorite seafood. Like all great chefs, we never follow a recipe verbatim so use you imagination.
Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Ingredients
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads crumbled
  • 5 1/4 cups seafood stock
  • 1 small yellow onion finely chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups Spanish bomba rice
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes drained
  • 1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 tsp
  • 8 medium garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp pimenton smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 12 large shrimp peeled, deveined but leave tail on
  • 1 lb mussels rinsed well
  • 1 cup peas frozen
  • 1 medium lemon sliced or cut in wedges
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, toast the saffron until fragrant, 30-60 seconds. Off the heat, use the back of a small spoon to crush the saffron as finely as possible. Add the seafood stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Immediately remove from the heat and set aside to infuse.
  2. Now we're going to make the sofrito: Peel and finely chop the onion. Drain the can of tomatoes.
  3. Set a 16-inch paella pan over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup of the oil and when it's hot, add the chopped onion. Cook the onion in the center of the pan, stirring occasionally, until it softens and darkens slightly, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato, chopped garlic, pimenton and 1/4 tsp salt. Gently cook the mixture in the center of the pan, stirring frequently, until it's deep, dark red and very thick, 30 to 40 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed, being careful not to let it burn. If it starts to stick, deglaze by adding a little water and scraping the pan.
  4. Time to make the paella: When the sofrito is done, add the rice to the paella pan and cook briefly over medium heat, stirring constantly to combine it with the sofrito, 1-2 minutes. Spread the rice evenly in the pan. Increase the heat to high and slowly pour in the 5 1/4 cup saffron-seafood stock - try not to disturb the rice so it stays in an even layer. From this point on, do not stir the rice. Bring to a boil and then adjust the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer, repositioning the pan as needed so it bubbles all the way to the edges (the bubbles at the edges will be much smaller than the bubbles at the center). Simmer vigorously until the rice appears at the level of stock, about 8 minutes.
  5. Arrange the mussels in the pan, distributing evenly. Lower the heat so the broth maintains a more moderate simmer, after another 5 minutes, arrange the shrimp and the peas in the pan, pushing them into the rice. Continue simmering until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender but still firm (taste a few grains), about 5 minutes more. The rice needs to simmer for roughly 18 minutes total. If at any point the stock seems to be evaporating too quickly, reduce the heat slightly,cover loosely with sheets of foil, or add a little more water, 1/4 cup at a time as needed. Also, if the mussels or shrimp are still undercooked by the time the rice is done, cover loosely with foil for a few more minutes to trap the heat and finish the cooking.
  6. When the rice is done, check for any caramelized rice sticking to the pan by using a spoon to feel for resistance on the bottom of the pan. Check in several areas, especially in the center of the pan. I there is none, increase the heat to medium high and carefully cook, moving the pan around until you hear a good deal of crackling and feel resistance, 1-2 minutes; if you smell burning, immediately remove the pan from the heat.
  7. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a clean dishtowel and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.
Recipe Notes

Serving Suggestions

Turn the paella into a Spanish party serving Gazpacho Shots and a big pitcher of Sangria.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Fine Living Magazine.

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