Spanish Recipes for Paella
There are as many Spanish recipes for paella as there are regions in Spain. Seafood paella is arguably the most famous, but many inland recipes use similar ingredients substituting pork or beef for the fish.
Paella traces its origins back to ancient times, and the original dish is called Valencian Paella. It's considered the union of two important Spanish influences, that of Roman and Arabic. The original recipe of Valencian paella uses white rice, green vegetables and beans, as well as a meat mixture consisting of chicken, rabbit and land snails. Traditional paella seasonings are saffron, rosemary and lemon. Optional ingredients include artichokes and peppers.
The other two types of paella are mixed and seafood paella. Seafood paella uses only seafood instead of meat, but chorizo is usually added for flavor. Green vegetables and beans are usually omitted and instead tomatoes are added. Mixed paella is a combination of both types and can use a mixture of seafood and meat as well as tomatoes and other green vegetables or beans.
The best way to cook paella is in a paella pan, which is a wide, fairly shallow pan with handles on either side. This pan enables the rice to be spread over a wide area and simmer evenly in the broth. It also allows the shellfish in seafood paella to nestle in the rice and broth.
Spanish Seafood Paella Recipe
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large Spanish onion
2 large garlic cloves
5 ounces chorizo
11 ounces squid
1 red bell pepper
2 cups chicken broth
7 tbsp dry vermouth
1 cup short grain rice or Arborio rice
1 large pinch of saffron
1 1/4 cup peas
12 large cooked prawns or shrimp in shells
1 pound mussels
1 pound clams
salt and ground black pepper
Heat olive oil in large saute pan or paella pan. Chop onion and garlic and add to the pan. Saute until the onion is translucent. Slice chorizo and add to pan. Fry until golden.
If you have 11 ounces of small squid, add them whole; otherwise, cut the larger squid into rings and chop tentacles. Add squid to pan and saute for 2 minutes on high heat.
Seed and slice the bell pepper. Seed and dice the tomatoes. Add both to the dish and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add broth and wine. Stir well and bring to a boil.
Add rice and saffron. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the rice and other ingredients in an even layer across the pan. Bring liquid back to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add peas, prawns, mussels and clams, stirring gently to incorporate. Cook for another 20 minutes until rice is tender and the shellfish has opened. Discard unopened shells and add more broth if the dish seems dry.
This is one of the most traditional Spanish recipes, using chorizo for authentic flavor.