I love Spain. The lifestyle, the sun, but most of all, the food. Having been to the south of Spain a couple of times over the last three years, I’ve always wanted to recreate the food I enjoyed while I was there. Paella’s tough without the correct utensils though! So when I spotted a paella pan on sale last week in a local store, I couldn’t resist. I regret nothing!
I made this paella on an extremely wet Saturday in Ireland. I mean EXTREMELY wet, even for us! But even if it wasn’t anywhere near Spanish weather outside, I was determined to recreate the vibe inside. Paella does that pretty well. I’m not gonna lie, the apartment smelt pretty darn good while this was cooking away.
I love seafood, so that was a natural choice for me for paella, but you could really use anything. The traditional Paella Valenciana uses chicken and rabbit, while in other parts of Spain seafood or mixed paella’s are more common. If you’re ever in Valencia, trying some paella is an absolute must!
Paella rice is super absorbent, which makes it hard to replace when making paella, so try and find some if possible. Risotto rice could be used as a substitute if absolutely necessary, but paella rice is preferable.
Let’s face it though. If you’re cooking this at home, you can really add in whatever takes your fancy! I used prawn, mussels and squid, because it’s what I had available. Had I had them in the fridge, I absolutely would have thrown in clams, crayfish, or lobster (dare to dream!). You could also transform this dish into a vegetarian paella so easily. Instead of shellfish, just add lovely things like fresh peas, green beans, artichoke hearts, or anything else you fancy!
If your paella pan is quite big and didn’t come with a lid (like mine, which was 38 cms), you can use some big sheets of tin foil to cover it after you add the second half of the stock. I add a good amount of lemon to this while it’s cooking because it adds a lovely freshness to the dish, as well as serving with an extra wedge of lemon. Spain in a bowl!
Paella is a social food, made for sharing, so serve it in the pan, and let people scoop out their own serving. It’s perfect if you’re having friends around, and don’t have a BBQ. It’ll go nicely with a lovely fresh salad and a few ice-cold beers on a sunny day.
Or a rainy day and a glass of white wine in Ireland. Make do with what you’ve got!
- 500g Paella Rice
- Olive Oil
- 1 onion (yellow), diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 litres Vegetable buillon (or stock)
- 2 large pinches saffron strands
- 1 heaped tbsp smoked paprika
- 12 large king prawns
- 3 small squid
- 300g fresh mussels (cleaned)
- Handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Heat your paella pan to medium/high. I had to use 2 hobs to properly heat the pan is it is quite large. If you're using a smaller pan, split this recipe in half.
- Prepare the buillon/stock. Add the stock cubes/powder (however much is specified for 2 litres of water on the stock pack if you're using store bought). Sprinkle in the saffron, and stir, allowing the saffron to infuse into the stock while you get on with the base of the paella.
- Sauté the onions and garlic until translucent.
- Add the rice, peppers and smoked paprika, and stir until the spice coats the rice.
- Pour in half the stock, stir, and allow to simmer for around 20 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed.
- When the rice is nearly cooked, but still a bit al dente, add the rest of the stock and stir. At this point, you can also add your prawns, mussels and squid (sliced into rings, tentacles whole), and whatever other veg you want to use.
- Cover the pan and allow to cook for a further 10/15 minutes, or until the rice is soft and fluffy, and all the stock has been absorbed.
- Taste and season with some black pepper and lemon juice if necessary. This paella shouldn't need any extra salt at all.
- Serve in the pan, garnished with the fresh chopped parsley and a few wedges of lemon. Everyone can dig in and dish up their own portion!