Paella originates in Valencia, a region on the Mediterranean coast of Spain that is between Barcelona and Murcia that is known for its rice dishes. Rice has grown in this region since it was planted by the Moors.
Spaniards agree that the most authentic versions of paella come from the Valencia region, where they originated using broad beans and snails. But paella dishes have come a long way since. There are now countless versions (though many locals still only allow certain ingredients to qualify as a "real" paella). Whatever your belief is what makes a traditional Spanish paella, this delicious version stuffed with seafood, pork and shrimp are undeniably delicious.
It's worth pointing out that despite its humble origins, today's paella is probably the most famous and popular Spanish dish in the world. There are as many versions of paella as there are cooks in Spain! This version of seafood paella includes chicken and pork, as well as clams, mussels and shrimp. It's a bit of mary montaña -- or surf and turf -- as they say in Spain.
A traditional paella pan, a long wooden spoon or paddle, and a barbecue or gas burner are needed to prepare this seafood paella.
- 1 yellow or white onion, diced
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1 whole chicken or eight drumsticks or thighs
- 1 1/2 lb. pork loin (fat trimmed), cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 lb. calamari (squid)
- 1 to 1 1/2 lb. medium grain or "bomba" rice
- 4 to 6 c. fish broth (or chicken broth if unavailable)
- 1 large pinch saffron threads
- 1 1/2 lb. raw mussels in shell (frozen or fresh)
- 1 lb. small clams (frozen or fresh)
- 1 1/2 lb. raw shrimp, medium or large - shell on
- 1 sweet red bell pepper
- 1 10 oz. pkg froze peas
- Spanish olive oil, salt to taste
Rice Note: The exact quantity of rice will depend on the size of the pan and number of servings, so have at least 1 1/4 lb. of rice on hand.
- Prepare the ingredients. If using a whole chicken, cut it and the pork into serving-size pieces.
- Clean the squid of innards and spine, the remove the tentacles. Cut the squid tubes into rings.
- De-seed and cut red pepper into long strips. Chop onions and tomatoes, set aside for later.
- Warm the chicken broth in a medium saucepan.
- Cook the paella. If using a charcoal barbecue, light the coals. When the coals on the BBQ are covered in white ash, cooking can begin.
- Place the paella pan on the heat and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom. When the pan is hot enough, sauté the onions and tomatoes in the olive oil. Add olive oil as needed to prevent sticking. Once the onions are translucent, add the chicken and cook, browning on all sides. Add squid and cook, stirring often for about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Add the rice, sprinkling in the form of a large cross on the pan. Stir for two to three minutes to thoroughly coat the rice with oil.
- Crush the saffron threads and add to the warm chicken broth. Slowly pour broth into the paella pan until ingredients are all covered. Spread meat and vegetables evenly over bottom of the pan.
- Arrange mussels around outside edge of the pan, pointing up. Place clams and shrimp in the pan, spreading out evenly around the pan. Add slices of pepper on top.
- Simmer, cooking rice. Add more broth if necessary. (If BBQ becomes too hot, raise the pan up, away from the heat.) When rice is almost cooked, sprinkle peas over the top.
- When rice is cooked, remove from heat and cover with aluminum foil or large tea towel, allowing paella to “rest” for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
- Slice lemons into wedges and serve alongside paella.