Our friends from Spain came to visit for my brother’s wedding last year and taught me how to make seafood paella. Carlos and María José live in Málaga, but she is from Valencia (where some of the most famous paella is from) and Carlos’s dad is an excellent paellero (a person who makes paella). I got expert help on this one.
In Spain, the wide, shallow pan used to make paella is also called a paella; the food gets its name from the cooking vessel (like a Moroccan tagine is used to cook tagine). In the US, people typically call the food paella and the cooking vessel a paella pan, though. It’s not terribly important. Moving on.
We made seafood paella, which has since become my very favorite, over chicken or chorizo or rabbit, not that I’ve actually had rabbit because come on! Rabbits are adorable.
Use the widest skillet you have if you don’t have a paella pan. Probably the most important thing for a good paella is not to cook too much rice at once.
As Carlos said, if the finished paella is more than two-fingers-width deep, “It’s not paella; it’s just rice”. A good, proper paella has a layer of socarrat (aka burnt) on the bottom and there must be a good ratio of rice to burnt for it to taste right.
Making Seafood Paella Video – scroll down for recipe
Check out the video above of us making paella for a good demonstration of all the steps. Carlos also shared this recipe for gazpacho Andaluz, which is delicious on a hot day.
Bomba rice is a very short grain, sturdy rice (similar to Italian Arborio rice used to make risotto). While you can use Arborio (easier to find in the US) it cooks up much softer than Bomba rice. Try to find Bomba aka Valencia rice to make a good paella.
Seafood Paella RecipePrint
- Cook Time: 40 mins
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 3
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- 1/2 yellow onion, small dice
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces tomato puree or sofrito
- 4–6 small squid, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- pinch ground cloves
- 6 strands saffron
- 450 milliliters seafood or fish stock (I prefer seafood stock or clam juice)
- 4 shrimp
- 2 prawns (or more shrimp)
- 150 millilters bomba rice
- Heat about 1/3 cup olive oil in a paella or wide skillet over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until golden. This will take about 10 minutes. Add the salt.
- Add the sofrito and diced calamari and cook, stirring, another 15 minutes or so until the sofrito is darker and the calamari have gone from rubbery to soft again. Add more olive oil if it’s sticking.
- In a mortar or small bowl, combine about a tablespoon olive oil with the paprika, pepper, cloves and saffron. Mash it around to make a paste.
- Add the stock and oil/spice mixture, rinsing the mortar out with the stock to get all the spices. Increase the heat to high.
- Bring to boil. Add rice in an even layer but do not stir.
- Reduce heat to medium high and allow rice to cook, UNcovered, bubbling for 10-15 minutes until nearly tender throughout. If your pan is larger than 10″ diameter, you may need to rotate the pan a quarter turn every 5 minutes or so to keep it cooking evenly on the burner.
- Arrange the shrimp and prawns on top, pressing them into the stock.
- Cook another 10 minutes or so until the seafood is cooked (pink) and the rice is tender. The stock should be cooked down now, but the rice still looking moist.
- Turn off the heat and cover the pan with a sheet of newspaper. Allow to rest like this for 5 minutes.
- Use a large spoon or paddle to scrape the bottom, gently tossing the socarrat with the rest of the rice and stopping the cooking.
- Calories: 600