Although the traditional “Paella Valenciana” does not include seafood (only rabbit, chicken and vegetables), the Seafood Paella is one of the most popular in Spain and elsewhere, along with the “Paella mixta”. Anyway, paella is the name of the pan, so anything cooked in it could potencially be called “paella”, as I mentioned in another post.
There are three indispensable things you will need to make a good paella:
- The flat pan, available in many shops and online, is essential. The thinner the layer of rice, the better it will be.
- The rice has to be white round rice, the “bomba” or “calasparra” type
- Saffron is indispensable to give the paella, not only color, but also its distinctive taste
The other basic thing is to make a good stock. I normally keep the shrimp heads and fish bones I use for other recipes (see garlic shrimp) frozen until I have enough to make a good shellfish fumet. Then I cook it and freeze it, having it ready to make a great paella.
I must say that I am not a paella specialist ,so I invited my Spanish friends over and we cooked this paella while enjoying a few glasses of wine, following Eloisa’s recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Ingredients (4 servings)
2 cups (around 500 grs.) paella rice (arroz bomba).
8 langoustines (or 16 large shrimp)
½ pound clams (1/4 if you use mussels)
8 mussels (optional)
½ pound cuttlefish or squid (can be frozen)
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 large tomato
5 ½ cups seafood stock
Extra virgin olive oil
For the stock you will need:
Heads and skins of ½ pound shrimp or langoustine (you can use the shrimp to make garlic shrimp –view recipe- or add the shrimp/langoustine tails to the rice)
½-1 pound of heads, skins and bones of lean sea fish (monkfish/angler, hake, red fish, red mullets…)
Leek (green part)
1 small onion
1 large garlic clove
8 cups water
Extra virgin olive oil
salt (and optionally bay leaf)
STEP 1.- Prepare the stock. Heat 2 tbsps. olive oil in a 5 quart pot and, when hot but not smoking, add the heads and skins of shrimp/langoustine. Fry them for a few minutes (2-3), pressing the heads so all the substance inside them is released. Add the leek, onion and garlic (peeled and cut into large pieces) and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients (carrot, fish, and water), let simmer for 20-30 minutes and season to taste.
STEP 2.- Let the clams rest in cold water with salt for 30 minutes so they release sand if needed. Open them in a pot with just ½ inch of water. Add them when the water is boiling and as soon as they open take them out. Filter the water and add it to fish stock. Proceed the same way with the mussels if you choose to include them.
STEP 3.- Cover the bottom of the paella with a very thin layer of olive oil and sauté diced squid or cuttlefish for 3-4 minutes. Add finely chopped white part of leek and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
STEP 4.-. Add finely chopped green pepper, ½ red pepper and sauté over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Incorporate peeled and grated tomato and garlic and cook for 5 minutes until all ingredients are soft.
STEP 5.- Toast the saffron over the heat with the help of a small piece of aluminum foil (see picture) so it is easily powdered in mortar and add to the stock.
STEP 6.- Set the heat to high, add 5 cups of shellfish stock and when boiling scatter the rice or make a cross shape from side to side of the paella and shake it to distribute the rice evenly. NEVER STIR. Cook the rice for 20 minutes total.
STEP 7.- When the stock starts boiling turn the heat to medium. Five minutes before the rice is ready (12-15 minutes after you added it) place the rest of the red pepper cut into slices and shrimp or langoustine on top of the rice (see picture). 3 minutes later, incorporate the clams (and mussels).
STEP 8 .- At this point, try the rice (17-18 min. after you added it). It should be cooked in the outside but a little undercooked in the center. If you like the rice soft instead of al dente, add ½ cup more of stock and let simmer for 2-3 more minutes. When ready, turn heat off, cover paella with clean cloth and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve immediately after.
– Never stir the rice. It will release the starch and spoil the paella. This is not a creamy rice, risotto style. The rice has to be loose and flavorful, not sticky and starchy.