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PAELLA with Seafood and Spanish Chorizo – a speedy one-pan meal
Paella is a versatile Spanish rice dish that is great to serve at gatherings or to add to a “tapas evening meal”. Not only do all the seafood, meat and vegetables look spectacular, but every spoonful is also a magnificent combination of smoky & sweet flavours.
Originating from Valencia, paella got its name from the actual pan used, incidentally called paella in Spanish.
The recipe I am sharing with you is for a standard Spanish paella, although nothing is stopping you from adding extra ingredients like fresh mussels, chicken, ham, octopus or legumes. This paella is perfect for vegetarians once you leave out the meat and add your favourite vegetables and some legumes for protein.
Key Ingredients for Paella
Chorizo in Spanish means sausage. There are two types of chorizo: dried and fresh. Dried chorizo is cured using cooked pork and smoked paprika, originating from Spain and used for paella and other national dishes. Whereas fresh chorizo is uncured and raw, used mainly in South America to barbecue/grill. As Spanish chorizo is starting to appear in many other dishes besides Paella, it seems to be readily available in most supermarkets, plus most are gluten-free (double-check the packaging). Failing that, ask your local delicatessen, where they may have some to slice up for you. Don’t forget to ask if it is gluten-free!
Known as Piementón de la Vera, smoked paprika is the main seasoning used to give the paella its typical Spanish flavour. Although the chorizo already has paprika, a little extra goes a long way.
This powerful ingredient gives the rice the typical yellow colour paella is known for. Saffron is expensive but as only a few threads are used at a time, it is worth the purchase. To prepare saffron, crumble it first with your fingers (use plastic gloves as the saffron temporarily stains) and leave it to soak in ice-cold water. The cold temperature gently eases out the flavour and colour, rather than using warm water.
Paella rice (also known as Bomba, Valencia Rice or Rice de Valencia) is exported worldwide from Spain and sold in International supermarkets or delicatessens. The rice is a short grain variety, mainly grown in eastern Spain. It is the perfect rice for making paella as it absorbs the liquid and flavours well, yet remains quite firm, dry and even a little crispy. Other popular Spanish paella rice are called Calasparra, Senia and Bahia.
Substitutes for paella rice
Short-grain and medium-grain rice can be substituted, but the liquid amount may need to be adjusted slightly. The short-grain variety, Calrose and medium-grain, Jasmine, both give similar results.
About the Paella Pan
A paella pan is a very wide, completely flat pan with a thin base. The wide surface allows the paella to cook through a thin layer and create a perfect layer of a crispy base (known in Spain as socarrat), juicy middle and a glorious topping of seafood and vegetables. Most well-stocked kitchen supply stores will have them on sale, otherwise, try Amazon or remember to pick one up next time you visit Spain!
PAELLA with Seafood & Spanish Chorizo
- Large heavy-bottom frying pan
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- 100 g gluten-free smoked Spanish chorizo, sliced (Leave out if a low-fat paella is preferred)
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
- 2 tsp smoked paprika/pimentón
- 1 red pepper, chopped or sliced
- 5 mushrooms, sliced
- 200 g paella Bomba rice, washed and drained
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 strands saffron threads, crumbled and soaked in a teaspoon of ice-cold water
- 110 ml dry white wine
- 500-600 ml store-bought or homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 2 calamari hoods, sliced into rings
- 100 g prawns, green or pink, peeled or unpeeled
- 100 g frozen green beans or peas, defrosted
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped finely
- 100 g mussels with shells, scrubbed & washed (optional)
- sea salt & freshly cracked pepper, to season
- 1 lemon, cut in wedges, to serve
- Crumble the saffron strands and sprinkle them into the cold water. Set aside to soak.
- Prepare and measure the rest of the paella ingredients before heating the paella pan.
- Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in the paella pan over medium heat. Add the chorizo slices and fry on both sides until seared and crisp.
- Add the onions, fry for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic, mushrooms, red peppers and smoked paprika with the onions for 5 minutes.
- Add the remaining olive oil to the pan, together with half of the prawns and calamari rings, stir well, then add the tomato paste.
- Pour in the wine. Allow the wine to evaporate slightly.
- Pour in the chicken or vegetable stock, the saffron water and saffron strands. Stir well.
- When the liquid is bubbling, throw in all the rice. Once the rice is in the pan, it is important not to move it, so that it cooks evenly and gets that crispy (but not burnt) bottom layer.
- Add the green beans or peas and place the remaining prawns and calamari rings on top of the rice.
- Pour the lemon juice over the rice and seafood. Add some parsley and seasoning. Leave to cook uncovered over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes.
- Lower the heat and cook for a further 10 to 12 minutes. Don’t be tempted to stir the paella. Instead, shift the pan every few minutes, moving it around and back to the centre of the heat. This ensures even cooking.
- If using mussels, add these at the end of cooking, covering the pan to create steam. Cook until the mussel shells open. Discard any that remain closed.
- Serve straight from the pan with lemon wedges, extra parsley and season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Keeps for 2 days chilled
- Suitable to freeze (without mussels)