Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Cooking method: On the hob
Paella is one of the most famous and recognisable Spanish dishes. In fact, it is so famous that many people outside of Spain regard it as the national dish.
In Spain, however, it is a regional speciality and it origins can be traced back to the 15th century when rice became a staple ingredient in Valencia.
The Valencian people are proud of paella and it has become one of the defining dishes of the region. The Catalan word paella actually describes the shallow, double-handled pan that is used to cook the dish and is originally derived from the Latin word patella which means pan.
In many parts of Spain, the dish is simply referred to a Arroz (rice). However, in tourist areas, the dish nearly always appears as paella on the menu.
There are many versions of the dish but the three most recognizable are Valencian (paella valenciana: meat and vegetable based), seafood (paella de marisco: fish and shellfish based) and mixed (paella mixta: a combination of meat, seafood and vegetables).
Each version has many variations and Valencians will happily debate until the end of time about the correct ingredients and cooking method to be used to make the perfect paella.
This seafood version is easy to make and packs a real punch of flavour.
- Pinch of saffron
- 1 tsp oregano or thyme
- 1.5 litres fish or vegetable stock
- 2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
- 1 bay leaf
- Olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1 red pepper
- 3 garlic clove
- 350 grams of paella rice such as ‘bahía-senia’ or ‘bomba’
- 1 large tomato
- Handful of mussels
- Handful of clams
- 4-6 large prawns
- Freshly ground black pepper
Prepare the stock and add the bay leaf. Leave to one side.
To prepare the prawns, break off the heads by twisting and then carefully pull the shells away from the belly. Once removed you will notice a thin black vein along the prawn, this often contains grit and sand. Run a knife along this line and then remove with the tip of the knife.
Wash your clams and mussels, removing any grit and pulling off the beards.
Warm two tablespoons of olive oil in a paella pan and add the chopped onion, pepper and garlic. Soften for about 7-8 minutes.
Grate the tomato into a bowl so the flesh passes through the grater but the skin does not. Add the saffron, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper and mix well. Add to pan with the onion, peppers and garlic. Stir.
Add stock, clams, mussels and prawns to the pan. Stir until coated. Bring to the boil.
Add the rice, stir once and leave. Cook on high heat for 10 minutes then reduce to a low heat for 5 minutes or until most liquid has been absorbed.
Remove from the heat and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
Finally garnish with parsley and chives and serve with bread and lemon wedges.
You could also pan fry some white fish such as cod and add to the dish at the end.