How to cook a Spanish seafood paella
Paella is often seen as the national dish of Spain and is commonly eaten across the whole country.
A bit about Spanish Paella
The dish is commonly associated with the Spanish region of Valencia and is considered a regional dish within Spain itself. The meal is believed to be the merging of two cultural traditions as the utensils (i.e. the pan) have been passed down from Roman heritage whilst the ingredients (i.e. the rice) are legacies of the Muslim influence in Spain.
A paella is cooked in a very specific dish (a paellera: the item we are using for the Cultural Relay Project) which is characterised by its shallowness. Experts argue that the shape is essential as it maximizes the rice’s contact with the base, enabling it to be evenly cooked throughout. Most pans today are also identifiable by the shape (its round), its highly polished surface and its two handles.
Different types of Paella
Arguably, the three most famous types of paella are Valencian paella, seafood paella and mixed paella, but there are a seemingly endless variants of the meal. All the recipes do have a number of common ingredients however, namely: short-grain white rice, tomatoes, fresh rosemary, sweet paprika, saffron, salt, olive oil and water. The Valencian paella is made with meat (traditionally rabbit or chicken but snails and duck are not uncommon) and beans; whilst, as the name would suggest, the seafood paella uses seafood served in shells. The mixed paella uses both seafood and meat but is only eaten outside of Valencia and is viewed by the locals as a desecration.
How to make seafood paella
1) Clean the fish, removing the skin and bones. Also clean the seafood well, removing all sand and dirt
2) Use the fish offcuts to make broth (additionally add a vegetable stock cube for extra flavour)
3) Heat oil in a paellera
4) Fry onions
5) Add pepper (which has been cut into small cubes)
6) Add garlic
7) Start frying fish & seafood
8) Add herbs
9) Add the rice (if its bomba rice let it fry for a few minutes first)
10) Mix the broth with a pinch of saffron and add to the paellera, then add the rest of the broth to the pan
11) Bring to the boil and reduce by half
12) Add some white wine (optional)
13) Simmer until everything is fully cooked.
One of the strange delicacies of the Paella is the toasted rice left on the bottom of the pan after cooking. The Spanish call it socarrat and the locals swear by the stuff.
In the video below is our attempt to teach our friend Shahram how to make Spanish seafood paella. Unfortunately, traditional ingredients for a seafood paella were quite hard to come-by in desert surrounded Shiraz (Iran) but we tried our best. Check out the results below …
written by: Jon