Many, when they think of Paella, they think of yellow rice. But it’s so much more.
Paella is dish that is served all around Spain. Not only tourists love it, but locals enjoy paella with friends and family as a social meal to enjoy with a glass of sangría.
It’s a dish usually made with short grain rice (usually grown in the Province of Valencia) and colored yellow (and cooked) with saffron, a spice that originates from Castilla la Mancha.
There is various types of paella and many restaurants have their own recipes and variations, depending where in Spain you are. Key ingredients that most paellas often have are red and green peppers, tomatoes and of course, saffron!
Types of Paella:
1. Paella Valenciana – The original paella was born in Valencia. Besides rice, this includes chicken and pork. Many natives include rabbit, but many restaurants do not include it because they know that many tourists are not familiar with rabbit.
2. Paella Mixta – This paella is a mixture of the paella Valenciana and the paella de marisco. It contains both meat, chicken and seafood. Sometimes this paella is called Paella Andaluz and is the most commonly ordered and eaten paella, specially by tourists.
3. Paella de Marisco (known as Paella Marinera when it has 5 seafood ingredients) – This is a seafood paella that does not contain meat. It usually contains prawns, mussels, calamares, clams, and other seafood. This type of paella is sometimes more ‘soupy’ and often goes by the name ‘Arroz Caldoso’ (which translates to ‘soupy rice’) in restaurants. The juices of the seafood add liquid to the Paella. This said, it add more intensity and flavor, a personal favorite.
4. Paella Vegetariana – This paella contains a variety of vegetables like artichokes, lima beans, red and green peppers, and rice and does not include any meat or seafood. As the name well says, it’s a vegetarian paella.
5. Paella Negra – This paella is cooked with squid ink and is, therefore, black in colour. It has a peculiar taste that natives love, so if you’re feeling adventurous, go for it!
Below you will find a recipe for Paella Mixta and Paella de Marisco, ‘Arroz Caldoso’.
Paella mixta, the famous one
8 Chicken drumsticks
1/2 Cup and 2 table spoons olive oil
1 White onion, diced
1 Table spoon minced garlic
2 Cups short-grain ‘Calaspara’ rice
2 Pinches of saffron (‘azafrán’ in Spanish)
2 1/2 Cups clam juice
2 1/3 Cups chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 Cup diced red bell pepper (‘pimiento rojo’ in Spanish)
1/2 Cup green peas
1 Tablespoon of ground cumin (‘comino’ in Spanish)
1 Tablespoon of ground cinnamon (‘canela molida’ in Spanish)
1 Diced red tomato
1/2 Diced cucumber
8 Clams (‘almejas’ in Spanish)
8 Black mussels (‘mejillones’ in Spanish)
8 Large shrimp, peeled
12 Small scallops (‘vieiras’ or ‘peregrinas’ in Spanish)
1 Slices chorizo (This paella normally uses dry chorizo, but feel free to use the chorizo of your choice)
1) To make the original Spanish paella you need a large skillet or paella pan without a lid. In the pan, cook the chicken in 1/4 cup of olive oil until cooked through. Then remove from pan and set aside.
2) In the same pan using the chicken fat and 1/4 cup of olive oil, saute 1/2 onion until they turn soft. After, add 1 tablespoon of garlic. Then, add the rice and stir until each grain is coated with oil. After a good stir, add some saffron.
3) To make the essential cooking liquid for paella, you combine the clam juice with chicken stock in separate container. Add 3 cups of the cooking liquid to the rice and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes. Add salt and pepper, then add bell pepper and peas. Stir well.
Arroz caldoso, soupy seafood paella
The famous paella is a more sticky and dry version to ‘arroz caldoso’, a soupy seafood paella. This paella blossoms much more in flavour, and delivers, in our opinion, a more rounded meal combining protein, carbohydrates and spices. Some may say that is the original and more flavorsome way of cooking a Spanish paella.
24 Mussels in shell
10 Large prawns or shrimps (‘langostinos’ in Spanish)
1 Medium Crayfish, Scampi type large Shrimp or Lobster
1 Bay leaf
50 g Fish stock or shellfish stock
1 Small onion
75 g Extra virgin olive oil
150 g Pork sweet sausages
3 Cloves of minced garlic
2 Large ripe seeded and de-peeled tomatoes chopped finely
500 g Short grain arborio Valencian rice
1 Teaspoon of salt
1/3 Teaspoon of black pepper
6 Medium size squid (‘calamar’ in Spanish)
225 g Cod fish or sea bass (‘bacalao’ & ‘lubina’ in Spanish)
3 Tablespoons of fresh minced flat leaf parsley
12 Strands of saffron threads
6 Lemon wedges
8 Green stalks of asparagus (‘asparragos’ in Spanish)
1) Scrub your mussels clean and rinse. Then place all your shellfish in pot with water ( add your white wine, bay leaf, small onion). Cook 4 to 5 minutes and then drain, reserving the liquid.
3) Cut your lobster or crayfish or scampi in half and heat in olive oil in a frying pan. Then sautée your sausages for 2 minutes. To the frying pan, add the garlic, rice, salt and pepper and stir over medium heat for 3 minutes.
4) Reheat the liquid in which the seafood and shellfish was boiled and add this liquid to the rice and cook over high flame for 2 minutes.
5) Add the squid, the fish and the stalks of asparagus, half the parsley and the shrimp, mussels and crayfish or lobster or scampi.
6) Cook for 15 mins or until the rice has partially absorbed the liquid and the fish is tender as well as the shellfish. For ‘caldoso’ style, pay attention that the rice does not absorb all your cooking liquid.
7) Stir the seafood into the rice and and sprinkle remaining parsley and cook for another 10 mins – 12 mins.
8) Place lemon wedges around your paella and serve.