Developed along the eastern coast of Spain in Valencia, paella came on the foodie scene in the mid-19th century. Typically, white rice, saffron and olive oil are combined with a variety of meats, seafood and veggies to create this signature Spanish dish, which is traditionally prepared over an open flame.
If long lists of ingredients lead you to shy away from recipes, don’t be intimidated. All or most of the ingredients may be found at your grocery store, and although paella may be a bit time-consuming, its directions are relatively simple. Plus, you only need two pans to cook with — one for the paella, and another to steam the shellfish in beforehand.
Celebrate at home on the eve of National Spanish Paella Day with this recipe from Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant. With an infusion of saffron, the dish is robust in flavor and a definite keeper.
Makes 4 servings
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 finely chopped onion
2 green peppers, cut into strips
2 chopped ripe tomatoes
8 oz boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1 oz pieces (dark and white meat)
12 oz Spanish rice
30 strands of lightly toasted Spanish saffron
3.5 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 oz calamari
8 oz any fish (red snapper or sea bass, or both)
8 oz shrimp (small or large, with no shells and clean)
2.8 oz lobster meat, cut into pieces (if desired)
4 oz peas
4 fire-roasted red peppers, cut into strips
12 steamed manila clams
12 steamed mussels (steam shells to remove any sand)
2 bay leaves
Preheat the oven to 360 degrees. Place the paella pan on low heat. Add oil and garlic, sautéing the garlic until light brown.
Add the onions, green peppers, tomatoes and chicken. Add the rice and lightly toasted saffron, stirring constantly. Add the chicken broth. Taste for flavor. If needed, season with salt and pepper to taste.
Bring the pan to a boil and reduce the heat, cook for 10 minutes.
Place all the fish on top of the rice. Press it down, making sure it’s more than halfway into the boiling chicken broth. Place the paella in the 360-degree oven for another 10 minutes.
Remove the paella from the oven. Add the peas, red peppers, clams and mussels. Return to the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes.
Allow the paella to cool for 5 minutes. Finish by squeezing lemon over the dish before serving.
For steaming clams and mussels
Place over medium heat in a pan large enough to hold the shellfish and 16 ounces of water. Add 2 bay leaves. Add 1 teaspoon of salt.
Squeeze in half a lemon, leaving the lemon in and covering the pot. Bring to a boil and wait for the shells to open. Remove from heat and set aside.