Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Recreating Europe #3: Pleasingly Palatable Paella

Just to continue my previous post, my hispanophile friend told me that the Spanish dinner that I whipped up indeed tasted authentic! Therefore, without further adieu, allow me to post the main recipe of that evening, which is again based on my Spanish cookbook--a recipe for paella. Just a quick note though, paella is typically made with mussels and not just clams. However, the seafood section in my local Safeway was out of mussels, so I simply used clams instead. You could use both mussels and clams, for extra seafood "oomph."

Seafood-Heavy Paella
1 lb of littleneck clams, scrubbed and presoaked in tepid water, to rid the clams of any grime or sand (you may also use scrubbed mussels, with beards removed)
1/2 cup of white wine
1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
5 oz of chorizo
1/2 lb of calamari, cleaned and cut into bite-sized rings and tentacles
2 yellow, red, or orange bell peppers, cut into thin lengthwise strips
1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
2 cups of chicken broth
2 generous pinches of good quality saffron
1 cup of short grain rice, preferably paella rice, if available
1 lb of medium-sized shell-on shrimp
1 1/2 cups of frozen peas, defrosted to room temperature

Place the white wine and clams into a small pot, and bring the clams to a rolling boil. When the clams have opened, immediately take the pot off the heat and set the clams aside, reserving the liquid separately.

In a large paella pan (or a large non-stick pan, if you do not have a paella pan), heat the olive oil on high heat, and saute the onions and garlic, until the onions are just translucent. Add the chorizo, and fry the meat for a few minutes, breaking up the large chorizo pieces with a wooden spoon.

Next, add the calamari and bell pepper strips to the cooking pan, and continue to cook the paella ingredients down for a few additional minutes. Then add the clam/wine broth, the tomatoes, the chicken broth, and the saffron; cover the pan with a lid; and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the rice, cover the paella again, and bring the rice to a simmer on medium heat. After 15 to 20 minutes, when the rice has absorbed more than half of the liquid, add the shrimp, and combine the paella ingredients thoroughly.

Continue to cook the paella on medium heat, stirring only occasionally, until all the liquid has been absorbed, the rice is no longer
al dente, and the shrimp is cooked through (and not overcooked). You want the rice at the bottom of the pan to have formed crisp crust patches. Add the peas, and stir the entire paella mixture, ensuring that the ingredients and flavors are evenly distributed. Finally, take the pan off the heat, and nestle the open clams into the surface of the paella rice. Cover the rice with the lid, and allow the steam to heat the clams before serving the rice with wedges of lemon.

If you liked this post about my attempt to recreate the memorable meals my beau and I had in Europe, stay tuned for more, and check out the other posts in this series, including:
Also, feel free to browse some of my other Spanish food posts, which are based out of my experiences in San Francisco:


  1. This looks out of this world delicious!! So colorful, beautiful. I have never attempted paella. You make it sound easy. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. YUM! I'm starving now!! I once made paella in a dutch oven but it burned the bottom and undercooked the rest of the ingredients.


    I'm guessing the same thing didn't happen to you... would you recommend using just a regular pot/pan?

    Also, I'd be honored if we could exchange links! :)

  3. my stomach is growling already and I just had dinner. you have wonderful pictures!

  4. gosh those look delectable.
    this recipe sounds like a keeper. :)

  5. Yum! I love paella! I also love trying to recreate different meals I've had while travelling once I return home. Another great Spanish recipe is this Fried Trout with Serrano Ham from the Navarra Region of Spain. Enjoy!!

  6. I love paella! I like how yours has a deep red color. Do you have a large paella pan because those sure were a lot of ingredients!

  7. This looks really delicious! Love the colours and the opened clams look so good.

  8. SO beautiful! And rice is so amazing. It can be used in seemingly infinite ways.

  9. I love your upbeat attitude in recreating the dishes you enjoyed on your honeymoon. The paella looks fabulous. All those gorgeous colors in one pan. Yum!

  10. It was much easier than expected Donna-FFW, it is totally do-able!

    I actually didn't have that problem Ambitious. I think it is because I used a wide and flat non-stick pan, and also stirred the rice around every now and then. As for the link-exchange, I would love to! However, I only link to blogs where I develop a rapport with the blogger (through being personal acquaintance, or they have unique content that especially strikes my fancy). Keep visiting and commenting, and you will get the link exchange!

    Thank you so much Burp and Slurp~!, I hope you give this a try!

    I will definitely be keeping this recipe Navita, thanks for your kind words!

    What a great recipe Hartley, thanks for sharing. I will have to try out making that fried trout and serrano ham as a part of this "Spain" series!

    Unfortunately, I do not have a paella pan Chef Ben, I just used an extra large non-stick skillet, with a deep rim. I believe the color is from the "Mexican" chorizo (I think I should have used "Spanish" chorizo) and my special use of "charred" tomatoes.

    Thanks PigPigsCorner, I made sure to cook the clams separately, so that they would open up!

    Rice is a necessary staple in my kitchen OrangeHennesey! I agree, it is so versatile.

    Thank you Wandering Chopsticks, I still have a long ways to go in recreating my meals!

  11. what a colorful paella! I love seafood paella!! My shortcut way of cooking paella is using yellow rice! lol!

  12. I love your "Recreating Europe" posts - especially these last two focusing on Spanish food. Brings back delicious memories of my short time in Spain several years ago. I think it's time I follow your lead and recreate a little bit of Spain for myself, too!! Thanks for the recipes.

  13. you are definitly a *self starter* + ambitious type. this is dedicated work not only prepping/making paella but then documenting with luscious photos! you never cease to surprise. am sure everyone at your dining room table left with a smile ~ beautiful

  14. I think I will have to use your "yellow rice" tip for paella, BeachLover!

    Thank you Ellie from Kitchen Caravan, I would love to see your recreations of great Spanish meals!

    Haha, I am not ambitious at all Taste Memory, but I definitely made sure that my friends and husband left the dining room happy--with the threat of my clenched and raised fist!

  15. That looks authentic and yummy!

    And yes, you're right -- the restaurant was Tekka. I see you did a post on them before too! Did the owner give you the "don't post photos on the internet" speech too?

  16. No Taste Tests, the owner didn't tell me anything upon seeing me snap away--but I'm not sure if it was because our friend who we dined with is a "Tekka regular" or if it was because we ate there in 2006, before the food blogging frenzy. And, as you can see from the pictures, we took snapshots of the owner too.

  17. oh wow! that looks delicious. I've always wanted to make paella, but have never dared to. Your recipe seems easy enough, i might just give it a go, Thanks =D

  18. It is definitely do-able Linda, I hope you try it!

  19. I've been dying to make paella lately, must be these posts and all the episodes of Made in Spain I've been watching! Must try this!

  20. I love Spanish food, so I will have to check out Made in Spain, Wordsandsteel!

  21. yum that almost looks like a stew. what a delicious sounding combination, chorizo and seafood... looks like an awesome feast! And your pictures are so lovely.

  22. Thank you Foodhoe, more will be coming soon!

  23. Paella Party Catering


    One of the top catering services in San Francisco and the Bay Area provides a unique touch that will transform your next dinner party, corporate picnic, a wedding, a holiday or an event of any size into an interactive and unforgettable paella fiesta. Paella Catering will make your party the talk of the town with bountiful paella, an unending array of traditional and not-so-traditional tapas, thoughtful sherry pairings and homemade Sangria! No gathering is too small—or too big!

  24. This paella looks mighty tasty. I can't wait to try it out. I'm sure my family will love it. Thanks for sharing.

  25. Just discovered your blog today and am about to make your paella! Your photography is beautiful!

  26. where does the saffron come in? I noticed it wasn't mentioned in the post but listed in ingredients.

  27. I am so sorry Jess Оуэн, add the saffron with the clam/wine broth and chicken stock! I will update the recipe now. Thanks for letting me know about the discrepancy!

  28. heyy how many people did this serve???


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