Spanish Paella: A tutorial. Step by Step with some tips.
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 Culinarty – Original 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