Rice & pasta | Traditional Spanish Recipes

Spanish Paella: A tutorial. Step by Step with some tips.

Special dressing: Phil Collins with Paradise (turn player on).

Spanish Paella is probably one of our most famous dishes worldwide. It all started in Valencia, a beautiful Spanish region also known for its savory oranges.

This post pretends to be a guide for all of you who have never tried cooking this dish and would love to try it… I’m not saying this is the original way to cook it, even the gastronomes think that every Spanish region has adapted the dish to the ingredients they have in each region.

So, this is one of my interpretations of Seafood Paella. Feel free to use your own food regional ingredients, just be sure to follow these simple Basic Rules:

  • Use a proper sauce pan. If you don’t have a paella (name of the specific pan to do this dish) a new Teflon one would be ok, just make sure it’s not deep.
  • Always use fresh ingredients. The fresher the better results you will achieve.
  • It’s always preferable to cook your own stock and to cook your own sauces (a canned tomatoe fried sauce would be ok but if you have the time make your own).
  • The rice should be Bomba or Bahía, their properties are perfect for the absorption of the dish juices.
  • Be patient when cooking the sofrito! Sofrito is the soul of the paella, if you cook it properly half the way to success is done.
  • The proportion rice/stock is very important! 2 water glasses of rice/5 water glasses of stock. Depending on your stove heat and type of rice this could vary. Just keep the stock boiling so that you can add a bit more if necessary.

I have made paella so many times that I do it by heart and never write down the exact measures but this time I made sure to write everything down so that you could follow all steps and get the best result!

Ingredients for 4 servings: 500 grs of fresh mussels, 4 fresh shrimps, 4 fresh prawns, 8 fresh small crabs, 1 fresh cuttlefish, 1 medium onion, 1 garlic clove, 5 ripe tomatoes, olive oil (0,4º), salt and fresh parsley. Also for the fish stock: another onion, 1 ripe tomatoe and 2 garlic cloves.

Purists insist that Paella shouldn’t have onion in its sofrito… but I love it with onion! Feel free to change that.

First of all get the mussels and stock ready: Clean your mussels and have inside a pot with cold water (half centimeter), cover the pot. Turn heat on and when they open reserve. Keep their water too. The ones that don’t open, discard.

Have your fresh ingredients clean and ready to be used: the cuttlefish (ask your fishmonger to clean it for you), take skin off , wash and dry, have the crabs in a place where they cannot scape (mine tried hard… poor little ones), wash the shrimps and keep fresh.


Start your fish stock with the following: Prepare a deep pot with 5 tablespoons of olive oil, turn heat on (low), add the ripe tomatoes cut in pieces, add the chopped onion and the minced garlics. Stir for 5 minutes, add a sprinkle of salt and let all flavours mix. Add the crabs and turn heat to medium. Sautee with the veggies. Keep on stirring until crabs turn red. Add 3 litters of water to the pot and boil for 20 to 30 minutes maximum.

There will probably be some stock left, use it to make a soup or just keep it for the next paella :D. This time I chose the crabs for the stock but feel free to use any white fish or just bones to do it. The crabs flavour is wonderful here though!

With the crabs stock and the mussels juices make a mixture that fits your palate. If you use the mussels water notice that is very salty and then you might not add more salt to your paella. Or just use the crabs’ stock… or the mussels water… whatever you prefer. This time I used the crabs’ stock mixed with a bit of mussels water.

Take your paella and add 4 to 5 tablespoons of olive oil. Turn heat to medium and place the cuttlefish cut in small pieces. Stir until golden. Add the onion to the paella finely chopped and stir until golden. Here is the beggining of the sofrito. A very important part of the Paella.

Then add the tomatoes you’ve grated into the pan and stir.
The heat should be medium/low and you will see that the tomatoe kind of disappears and the sauce becomes darker and more oily. This could take from 30 to 45 minutes, even 60, the lower the heat the more time it takes but the better results too.
It’s time to add the shrimps to the paella, have for 1 minute maximum, keep on stirring and reserve aside.
This is a close up of how the sofrito should look like. When it gets to this point… it’s done! Keep the heat the lowest possible and get your fish stock ready.
Back to the fish stock, safe 3 or 4 crabs away, put the rest in a mortar and smash so that they get all juices out. Pour a bit of the stock in the mortar, stir, strain and pour back to the fish stock big pot.
Stir the stock, strain and pour in a clean pot and boil. This should be a soft boil to have ready when it needs to be added to the rice.Back to the Paella, turn the heat to medium/high and add the rice to the paella (pan). Stir and make sure the rice gets all sofrito adhered to it. 4 people would be 400 grs. of rice (2 water glasses). Immediately after pour the fish stock into the pan – 5 glasses -(it should be boiling).
The heat should be high for the first 5 minutes. Stir only a bit. Then the following 10 minutes have at medium heat. When 10 minutes have gone through add the shrimps and prawns.

Keep your pot fish stock boiling just in case you need to add more.
Taste and add more salt if necessary. When the 15 minutes have passed decorate with the mussels and the crabs, turn heat off and pour the minced parsley on. Cover the paella outside the heat and wait for 5 minutes leaving it covered.
You could place it in the oven for the last 5 minutes instead, but again, that would be another interpretation, equally good and tasty… up to you!

Can you smell the sea in the dish? Viva Paella forever!!!

The rice grains should be loose, never a paste.

As I previously said, this is my interpretation for Seafood paella, I’m sure you can find many other ways of cooking it in internet… what I can assure you is that if you try mine… you’ll love it… I bet my right hand!!!

This is my entry for Lore’s event at CulinartyOriginal Recipe. Hurry to present your original recipe before July the 13th. My paella is always original because I keep on changing ingredients to fit our taste :D


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06/30/2008 · 20:02 h by Peter M

Nuria, you are torturing me…this is a piece of culinary art! I love the pounding of the crabs to extract more flavour and the last picture…food sex!

07/01/2008 · 0:32 h by Cynthia

This post is a treasure and should be given some kind of award for it’s step by step instructions. Great job, Nuria.

07/01/2008 · 0:48 h by Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

Interesting use of crabs. I will have to try that when I catch little ones…

07/01/2008 · 3:26 h by Jen of A2eatwrite

Nuria! Bless you for this! I’ve always wanted to learn how to make paella – it’s one of my favorites. This is such a great lesson. Thank you so much!!!

07/01/2008 · 5:39 h by [eatingclub] vancouver || js

Thanks for the tutorial! The couple of times I made paella, I had problems with it being too wet. I’ll follow these instructions and see what happens.

Bookmarking this one.

07/01/2008 · 6:02 h by Ivy

Nuria, thanks for all the detailed instructions. This is a dish I’ve been wanting to try for a long time. Now it has been bookmarked. Thanks very much. BTW voting has started for the Fat Chefs or Skinny Gourmets? and you can vote for your favourite recipe and your friends can vote for you.

07/01/2008 · 11:44 h by gay

OOhhh I love paella! Thanks for demonstrating this one. SOmetimes it’s hard to understand the recipe just by reading.

07/01/2008 · 11:48 h by Núria

First of all thank you Guys!!! Your comments are so encouraging and give me the strengh I need to keep this on :D

Second of all, Sorry for not being able to visit your blogs as often as I should… time is escaping from my hands… This afternoon, I’ll try to come and visit :D

Querido Peter! Thanks Chico! You always have an ear ready for the small details (this doesn’t mean they are not important… of course). So happy you liked it!

Hey Cynthia! My award are your beautiful and encouraging words! Thanks so much darling!

Hey Hunter! Welcome to Spanish Recipes! Best crabs are those catched in the sea with your own hands… no doubt!!!

Aaaahhh Jen, so happy it will help you cook your own! I hope it comes out super savory and tasty! Any doubt you have, please email me… I’ll be more than glad to help you :D

Hola EatingClub! Hope this one comes out perfect! Would love to hear your comments if you cook it, like I told Jen, please feel free to email me with any doubts :D

Hola Sweet Ivy. Thanks darling! Any doubts, please email me! I’ll be more than happy to help.

I’ll go to vote this afternoon :D

07/01/2008 · 13:37 h by Pilar - Lechuza

Fantástica receta de la paella, Núria. No especificas qué tipo de arroz usas. Yo suelo utilizar arroz de grano corto cuando somos pocos y de grano “vaporizado” cuando nos reunimos un grupo de amigos para que no se nos pase.
Como tú preparo todo en una paella, sin embargo cuando añado el caldo y el arroz, meto todo en el horno para que te haga sóla.
Te garantizo que sale esplendida.
Un abrazo

07/01/2008 · 14:12 h by Núria

Vaya, muchísimas gracias Pilar!!!! Sí que digo el tipo de arroz pero no es raro que se te haya pasado con un post tan largooooooooo :D. Utilizo Bahía que es grano redondo y también Bomba (específico del Delta del Ebro… Una maravilla y éxito garantizado).

Nunca la he hecho toda en el horno… mmmmmm… tengo que probar, seguro que es una maravilla, gracias guapa!

A más ver :D

07/01/2008 · 22:49 h by Susan from Food Blogga

Nuria, You have truly outdone yourself with this post. When I think of Spanish cuisine, I think of paella, and now I’ll think of Nuria’s recipe. The step-by-step illustrations are so helpful, especially to a paella novice like me. Well done, my friend.

07/02/2008 · 1:36 h by glamah16

Great post. I love all that seafood. I just purchsed some saffron but I need the proper pan for this.

07/02/2008 · 1:54 h by Jude

This has to be the best post on paella I ever read. Is calasparra rice comparable to bomba or bahia?

07/02/2008 · 6:08 h by Laurie Constantino

Nuria, it’s absolutely beautiful. Paella is a special treat and yours looks particularly good.

07/02/2008 · 7:46 h by Bellini Valli

I have always wanted to have a true paella pan Nuria to get that crust ion the bottom that is so prized.

07/02/2008 · 9:31 h by Núria

Thanks so much Susan! I feel so flattered :D

Hola Glamah! Now that you mention the saffron… I have never used it in my paellas, but its use is so spread… it gives it a different colour and taste… a good option too!

Wow Jude! I never heard of calasparra rice… I will look it up and tell you something… no idea, sorry.
Here is the link of our spanish rices and some others we can find in spain that are clearly foreiners :D http://www.arrossaires.com/indexc.html
Sorry it’s in catalan… but any translator will help you here :D. Thanks for your nice words!!!

Thanks so much Laurie :D

I didn’t get a crust on this one Val! But I know what you talk about, you would need not a teflon one to get the crust… a real paella, but it doesn’t work with my vitroceramic :(

07/03/2008 · 8:49 h by Lore

Holla Núria
I so want a paella pan! Must say I don’t only admire your cooking skills but also your patience for taking the step-by-step pictures.
I also love it with onion ;)
Thanks for this delicious entry and Viva Paella Forever!!!

07/04/2008 · 4:12 h by giz

Yayyyy!!!! I’ve been waiting forever for you to post your paella. I don’t care who’s version of it I get, I love them all. Your tutorial is wonderful and I’m happy to know I’m doing some things right.

Of course you know I put this right into my Delicious file.

07/05/2008 · 19:50 h by Ben

My friend, this is a great step by step guide to make paella. My mom made it a couple of times when I was a kid and I absolutely loved it. I wanna move to Spain only to eat paella every day :-p

07/07/2008 · 9:54 h by Núria

Hola Lore! Thanks so much for your kind words :D. Pictures are a little unfocused but they give an idea of the process ;-). It’s been a pleasure participating in your event!!!

You are so smart Giz! I bet your paella is delicious :D

Hola Ben :D I would eat paella every day too… It’s my debilidad!!!

07/08/2008 · 19:35 h by katiez

I sit in awe!
I’ve never tried making it, nor will I now. Somethings are just best left to the experts – of which you are one! Well done, great photos.
BTW, last time I had paella was at 1:00 in the morning in Barcelona, sitting at a sidewalk table.
I don’t remember where, but it was real paella – not the fast, commercial stuff!

07/17/2008 · 3:26 h by Dragon

This is a work of art! Thank you for the great instructions. Good job!

07/17/2008 · 9:13 h by Núria

Aaaah Katie… I remember, when I was young… wink, wink, having a Paella in Plaza Real with my Sweedish friend Nancy… Oh, those were great times!

Hola Dragon! Welcome to Spanish Recipes :D. Thanks for such nice words! I just wish you could not only see it but also taste it ;-)

07/19/2008 · 23:12 h by Cakelaw

Nuria, I’m coming over for dinner – make sure you keep it warm for me!

07/21/2008 · 12:04 h by Núria

Hola Cakelaw! Sure there will be a plate for you here :D. thank you darling!

08/30/2008 · 19:16 h by lovefrom1stbite

This is awesome I ve been looking for some authentic paella and here it is in front of me along with the tutorial. yay!! It’s one of my favorite dishes.
I’m also inviting you to check out some of my tutorials of Moroccan food yummies :)
Hey thanks you made my day with this recipe..


09/09/2008 · 12:32 h by Dimitris

Your paella looks great! Keep it real and Spanish :)

09/09/2008 · 13:23 h by Núria

Hola Love from 1st bite! Welcome to Spanish Recipes! Thanks for your kind words… I will visit you in short :D

Hola Dimitris! Welcome to Spanish Recipes! So glad you like it! If you dare to cook it, please let me know ;D

10/21/2017 · 12:52 h by Debra J. Boller

Looks delicious! I am going to try this next weekend.

[...] for and cooking paella are great ways to expand both your pantry and knowledge of Spanish cooking. This recipe from Spanish Recipes by Nuria will guide you through the entire process. Here are some of the [...]

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