Paella is a Spanish dish that can easily be overdone. Traditionally, it can contain excessive amounts of garnishes and flavors if not done properly. While some may enjoy this type of intensity, our preferences are for the more moderate version. Having said this, prior to adding any seafood it’s vital to ensure that the Paella is done correctly or it will not achieve its maximum potential.
Appeal of Paella
A well-done paella dish can steal the attention for the entire meal. The basics of preparing an excellent paella is to get the right amounts of liquid and rice with the right amount of base flavors. Onion, garlic and saffron are the key flavorings used and it’s always a good idea to stick with what works. Spanish paella is amazing with the addition of the right types of seafood. Our preference is to use mussels and jumbo shrimp along with the squid in combination with chicken stock because of the way that these ingredients compliment one another so nicely.
Basics for perfect paella
Bomba rice is the best choice because this variety holds its integrity well. It is always best to use ingredients which are fresh whenever possible. Avoid going for canned or frozen if you can. You’ll notice the difference in taste and texture when you compare them.
Spanish Paella with Mussels and Prawns
- 2 medium sized tomatoes
- 2 cloves fresh carlis
- 1 large onion
- 1/c teaspoon sugar
- 5 tbsp virgin olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Sweet paprika
- Saffron threads
- 2 cups Bomba rice
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 10 fresh mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed
- 12 jumbo shrimp in the shells
- 4 small quid, cleaned and sliced into rings about 1/4 inch in width with the tentacles uncut.
Dice the onion finely, chop the tomatoes and crush the garlic, setting each aside in separate containers.
Heat the oil in a large paella pan and add the onion, stirring constantly. Add the garlic and sauté for a few moments, then add the chopped tomatoes. Add paprika, a good pinch of saffron threads, sugar and salt to your taste preference. Thoroughly mix all ingredients and continue cooking until they resemble a thick sauce. Add the squid and continue cooking, stirring constantly for about two minutes. Next, add the rice and stir to mix thoroughly.
In a separate saucepan, combine the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over the rice and bring to boiling. Add more salt if required. Using a large spoon, spread rice evenly in the paella pan. Reduce heat and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, occasionally rotating the pan for even cooking. Do not stir the rice at this point. Add the shrimp partway through the cooking process, about 10 minutes in. When they become pink it is time to turn them. When 20 minutes is up, remove the rice mixture from the heat and cover with foil.
In a separate pan, steam the mussels until the shells open. When they are open, place on top of the paella to complete the dish.
This is our favorite seafood for Spanish paella. You can add other ingredients if you wish. Spanish paella also works well with clams or lobster, dried peppers or vegetable additions including artichokes, peas, green beans and roasted peppers. One of the great things about paella is that you can make it your own.