I spent my last Christmas holiday traveling around Spain last year to taste various type of Paellas. The original Paella recipe came from Lake Albufera near the Gulf of Valencia in the 19 century. Many non-Spanish view Paella as a Spanish national dish but most Spanish classify Paella as a regional Valencian dish. Valencians, in turn, regard paella as one of their identifying symbols. I was told by local Spanish that every village and family has their own secret recipe to make a Paella. Generally speaking there are three main types of Paella you expect to find in Spain.
· Meat Paella – with chicken, rabbit, or pork
· Seafood Paella – mix with all types of seafood including clam, mussel, crab, and shrimp
· Vegetarian Paella – beans an green vegetables
Regardless which recipe you are using, you must use top quality “Saffron” when making this dish. I mange to track down a supply of top quality La Mancha Saffron. I brought back home 30 grams of the best saffron from this region in Spain.
Rice varieties like Bomba, Calasparra, or other high quality, short or medium grain rice are readily available for purchase in Spain. However, if you are in the USA or Canada, purchasing these varieties can be difficult, since they are only available via the internet, and at gourmet and ethnic grocery stores. Through trials and errors, I am very happy to use the following rice mixtures: Jasmine, Australian long grain and Indian Basmati rice. The ratio is very easy: 1-1-1.
- Consider buying a teflon-coated paella pan
- Use plenty of good quality extra virgin olive oil
- Feel free to use any toppings, chorizo sausage, seafood, chicken or anything comes into your mind
1 lb fresh clam
1 lb fresh mussel
1 Dungeness crab (cut up)
½ lb medium size tiger prawn (season with salt, pepper and olive oil)
½ lb fresh fish (salmon, halibut or red snapper)
1 hot chorizo sausage (cut into thin slides)
3 chicken drum sticks (cut into pieces, season with salt and pepper, grill chicken for three minutes to ½ cooked)
1 cup long grain rice
1 cup jasmine rice
1 cup basmati rice
1 1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
6 table spoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 clove of shallot (finely chopped)
Pour olive oil in a large pan under medium heat. Transfer garlic and shallot in the pan but make sure it doesn’t get burn. Wash the rice and drain well. When you can smell the aroma from the garlic, put the rice in the pan and stir well. Season it with 3/4 tea-spoon of kosher salt and a pinch of black pepper. Heat up the chicken stock and white wine in a small bowl. Put a pinch of saffron in the liquid but don’t let it boil. Let it cook below boiling point for at least ten minutes (allow the saffron to release its intense aroma) and transfer it to the pan with the rice in it. Keep stirring to avoid sticking to the bottom. Pre heat oven to 375ºF, put a lid over the pan and transfer it in the oven for 30 minutes. Take pan out from oven and place seafood, chicken, fish and sausage on top and put it back in oven under 425ºF for another 15 minutes. When you see the clams and mussels are open, the seafood is cooked. Now your Paella is ready!
(Option – can pour in more olive oil before serving)