This is the Seafood Paella you’ll want on the weekend as a treat for friends but mostly for yourself. Paella is often wrongly described as ‘like Cajun Jambalaya’ but it’s not. The cooking technique for the seafood version of paella is really closer to west African Jollof Rice where the rice is partly cooked separately from the meat.
Follow the Plan!
And finally, this is a recipe that you want to read thoroughly and follow the steps which include being in or near the kitchen while the rice is cooking.
So let’s get started:
What you’ll need
Seafood Stock (either homemade or bought)
Sofrito made with garlic, bell pepper, tomato, paprika, turmeric
Shrimp, Scallops, Mussels, Calamari
Short grain Bomba rice (or Carnarolli)
The Mussel in white wine stock
This is the cup of white wine you will boil the mussels in. Once they have opened up, remove them and add the wine to the seafood stock. If any fail to open, throw them out.
The Seafood Stock
The stock, as outlined below, is wonderful, however, if you don’t have time to make it or pull it out of your freezer you can easily substitute your favorite canned or concentrated version. Nice to make this early or buy it.
This is the savory sauteed veg and flavorings that will infuse into the rice. Once the sofrito is cooked move it to the side and sear the seafood in the center.
This is a two-step cook since the mussels are steamed in the white wine, and the shrimp, calamari, and scallops are seared in the center of the paella pan and moved to the side.
Combining it all with the rice
You’ll pour in the rice and stir to coat, then add enough broth to cover the rice. Next place all the seafood except for the mussels on top, cover, and cook over medium heat checking constantly to see if the rice is done. Add more broth if necessary.
Cooking the rice
The main difference from jambalaya is that paella doesn’t require stirring. In fact, it’s important not to stir it once the stock is added to ensure that the delicious, light-golden crust, known as socarrat, forms on the base. And when making paella don’t wash the rice for it needs its outer coating of starch.
Once it’s done and there’s a little crackle and browning on the bottom of the pan add the green peas and seafood, and cut the heat. Cover then add parsley and lemon and the red bell pepper strips before serving.
This will serve two huge portions or four with some side salads like Orange Arugula or Louisiana’s own Sensation Salad.
These and your favorite dessert will make for a nice weekend treat, so enjoy!
- For the Mussels:
- 1 cup white wine
- ½ lb. mussels, washed well
- For the Stock*:
- ¼ teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled & lightly toasted in the pan
- 6 jumbo shrimp heads
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- ⅓ cup bell pepper, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- ⅓ cup parsley, chopped
- ⅓ cup celery (including leaves), chopped
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne
- 2 cups water
- For the Sofrito:
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup bell pepper, diced (any color)
- 1 cup diced tomato* (canned or fresh, if fresh it should be peeled)
- ½ tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- For the other Seafood:
- 4 to 6 jumbo shrimp
- ½ lb. calamari, sliced
- 4 sea scallops
- For the Rice:
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Spanish bomba rice (or Arborio or Carnaroli)
- 1 cup large green peas, (frozen or fresh)
- For the garnish:
- Parsley and jarred roasted red peppers (or you can use the version in my Ajvar recipe)
- For the Mussels:
- Wash the mussels and add to simmering white wine. When they open they are done. Set aside. Once they have opened up, remove them and add the wine to the seafood stock. If any fail to open, throw them out.
- For the Seafood stock:
- Lightly toast the saffron for 15 or 20 seconds in a dry pan over medium heat.
- Remove shrimp heads and peel, reserving shrimp meat.
- Add other ingredients with one cup of water and the wine from the mussels and let boil for 20 minutes.
- For the Sofrito:
- Chop finely the garlic & bell pepper. If you use fresh tomato, cut it in half and grate it, then discard the skin. If using canned diced tomato just add with the garlic & bell pepper.
- Add a half cup of olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, bell pepper, and tomato, and cook for several minutes. If it starts to stick add dribbles of olive oil. Don't let it burn.
- Once softened, add the paprika, salt & turmeric. Move sofrito to the edge of the pan.
- For the Seafood:
- Add a little oil to the middle of the pan if necessary. Dry off the shrimp, scallops, and calamari and quick sear in the center of the pan. They will brown better if they are dry.
- Move shrimp to the side when it pinks up, move calamari when the tentacles begin to squeeze.
- Scallops only need to cook for one minute. After that move them onto a plate & set them aside.
- For the paella:
- Combine the wine you cooked the mussels in to the seafood stock then add a cup and a half of the stock to the pan.
- Pour the rice over in the shape of a cross, slightly above the liquid. Stir to coat & even out.
- From this point on do not stir the rice.
- Put the rice in the pan and let cook on high for 3 minutes till you get a little soccarat (or browning on the bottom.)
- Bring to a boil and then adjust heat to maintain a vigorous simmer. Bubbles at the edge should be smaller than at the center. Do this for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Arrange the mussels, shrimp, and scallops on top of the paella distributing them evenly.
- When the paella starts to make popping noises cut the heat and add the peas. The peas will use the remaining heat to cook.
- red bell pepper, roasted, peeled & cut into strips (or the jarred version)
- lemon wedges & chopped parsley
- Cover & let rest for 5 -10 minutes