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Spanish Paella Recipe

Updated: Jul 8, 2022

✦ CEO of Brilliant-Online Veronica Lind has taken a piece of Spain with her in the form of a delicious Paella recipe set to impress.


Paella is pronounced as 'pa-e-ya'

Spanish paella recipe from Brilliant-Online

It's hard not to love Mediterranean cuisine.


I'm a true blue foodie and while it's great having photos as a memento of places I've visited, I also enjoy taking a piece of their cuisine with me back home.


After a recent trip to Spain I had a go at making my own Spanish paella when I got back to Australia. I found a good recipe for you, so give it a go, prepare a hearty jug of sangria to go with it and you'll feel like you're in sunny Spain.




The most important thing about paella is this - a good paella needs good company to bring out its best flavours, so round up your friends, family, neighbours and coworkers to enjoy it together with you!


What rice do I use for paella?


The best rice to use for paella are:

- Bomba Rice (Arroz bomba)

- Valencia Rice (Arroz de Valencia)

- Calasparra Rice (Arroz Calasparra)


You can get these types of rice at Woolworths, Harris Farms, Coles, delis, Spanish or Mediterranean delis (some Italian ones too), or gourmet stores. If you cannot find these then the best substitutes for paella rice are:

- risotto rice - add an extra 1/2 cup of water with stock

- medium grain rice - reduce water to 2 cups per 1 cup of rice

- long grain white rice, sushi rice - reduce water to 2 cups per 1 cup of rice


INGREDIENTS:

(Serves 5-6 people)

  • 1 - 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 7 oz / 200g cured chorizo (2 pieces), sliced 1/2 cm / 1/5" thick

  • 200g / 6 oz squid (calamari), cut into 7mm / 1/4" thick rings

  • 1 onion , diced (brown, white, yellow)

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 red capsicum / bell pepper, diced

  • 300g paella rice ("Bomba", "Valencia" or "Calasparra" rice)

  • 2 juicy ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced OR 3/4 cup canned crushed tomato

  • 300g / 10 oz chicken thigh fillets, cut into 1.5" / 3.5cm pieces

  • 875 ml chicken broth/stock (not low sodium) or homemade seafood broth

  • 1 tsp saffron threads (or 1/4 tsp ground saffron)

  • 150g frozen peas

  • 12- 16 medium / large prawns, whole (shell on)

  • 12 large mussels, cleaned and checked for freshness

Garnish

  • Fresh parsley, chopped

  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges


NOTE: Famous chef Jamie Oliver caused a scandal when he suggested adding chorizo (a type of Spanish sausage) to the classic paella. Paella may not be an item on UNESCO's list of things to be protected but the Spanish are protective of their tradition. The humble chorizo is quite a well-loved ingredient, and delicious to boot, so To Chorizo or Not to Chorizo - that is your choice!


METHOD:


If you haven't got a paella pan, you can use any large skillet or a wide pot. If this is your first time making paella, it´s probably a good idea to start with a skillet or pot because the traditional paella pan is very shallow and without a good technique the rice may burn easily.

  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a 30cm / 10" paella pan or large skillet over high heat. Add chorizo and cook until browned on each side (appx 3 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

  2. Add squid and cook for 45 seconds on each side, then remove and set aside.

  3. Add remaining oil (if needed). Add garlic and onion, cook for 2 minutes. Add capsicum, cook for 1 minute.

  4. Add chicken. Cook for 2 minutes until lightly browned but still raw inside.

  5. Add rice and mix until the grains are coated in oil.

  6. Add in most of the chorizo (reserve 1/4 for garnish), chicken stock, fresh or crushed tomato and saffron. Stir.

  7. Bring it to a simmer then adjust heat so it's simmering fairly gently (make sure it's not too fast or the rice may burn). Simmer for 10 minutes. DO NOT STIR. At this stage, a bit of rice should be poking through to the surface but there should still be plenty of liquid.

  8. Scatter over peas, squidge the prawns and mussels into the rice (partial submerge is fine).

  9. Cook for 8 minutes (turn prawns halfway if you think it's necessary) or until prawns are opaque, mussels are open, and most of the liquid has been absorbed but still a bit liquidy. Discard any mussels that do not open. Remove from stove.

  10. Do a taste test to see if the rice is cooked - it should be firm but cooked. If it is too firm for your taste, no stress, just add a splash of hot water (not too much) and keep cooking.

  11. Scatter over squid and reserved chorizo (residual heat will warm through), cover with lid then rest for 5 minutes (rice will absorb remaining liquid). Paella rice should now be tender but "juicy", not stodgy and thick (if it is, add a bit of water to loosen it).

  12. Scatter with parsley and wedges of lemon. Take to table as it is, then mix up rice with seafood before serving.

Tips for making paella


If you decide to go ahead and use chorizo, make sure you get cured chorizo (i.e already cooked) not raw chorizo. The raw ones won't slice well.


The quality of the stock or broth can make a big difference to your paella. A homemade fish stock would be best.

Beautiful threads of saffron
Beautiful threads of saffron

Saffron threads are traditionally used but they can be expensive. You can use imitation saffron powder instead - 1/4 teaspoon is enough.


If you're not sure how much to cook, allow for 1/3 cup / 60g of rice per person, and around 150g / 5 oz of proteins and seafood. If you have leftover paella that's fine as it keeps well.


The liquid-rice ratio is about 1 cup of rice to a little under 3 cups of liquid. It's safer to start with less liquid as the seafood releases juices as well and you don't want to end up with a mushy dish.


Cook the rice uncovered. This is what is distinctive about making paella.


DO NOT STIR the paella rice while it's simmering. Paella is a slightly drier rice dish and not at all creamy. Stirring causes the dish to become mushy.



Mussels are great for adding flavour and juice, but make sure to check them for freshness because one bad mussel can ruin the whole pot. Fresh mussels smell of the ocean or seawater. If you notice any offensive smell err on the safe side and chuck it.


Cook the squid/calamari for 90 seconds. Squid cooks fast and you want to keep them nice and juicy, not dry and rubbery.


Add the seafood halfway through the cooking. This is to ensure all the ingredients are done cooking at the same time. You want the seafood to still be juicy at the end.


Spanish seafood paella

Fun facts about Paella


And here are some fun facts about paella to pass around the table over dinner to spice up the conversation!

  • Valencia is THE place to go in Spain if you want authentic paella.

  • The dish is not pronounced with an L like in English but more like a Y as in 'pa-e-ya'.

  • The name of the dish is taken from the utensil it is cooked in, called a paellera. It's essentially a flat round pan with two handles and you serve the paella directly in the pan. It comes in different sizes.

  • A paella can take on different ingredients which could include seafood, chicken, rabbit, duck and vegetables. Be careful though, purists would be highly offended if you mixed strange ingredients in a paella!

  • Paella rice should not be mushy or too soft. If you like the texture of your rice to be soft and fluffy like the typical Asian white rice, then be prepared that paella rice may feel a bit harder or crunchier to the Asian palate.

  • Paella is basically a social dish, so friends and family are essential ingredients to make your paella taste even better!

  • Rice is not poured randomly on the pan. It is poured in the form of a long bar at the longest diagonal of the pan (i.e. the middle handle to handle). You'll get a pyramidal shape that should exceed the broth a good centimeter in height. There is a reason for the shape and depth of the utensil and this is how cooks know how much rice to include.

  • The best part of the paella is the soccarat, which is the crunchy crust on the bottom of the pan.

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