This picture pretty much sums up my Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 post! My mami and I doing what we love to do; chit chatting, cooking, and laughing! We had the entire family over yesterday for a backyard bbq but instead of grilling burgers we did as they do in Spain, cook a beautiful seafood paella outside. Enough to feed the entire block!
In the states many people are led to believe that paella is a gourmet food served at fine establishments. In reality, paella is served at outdoor family gatherings, while camping, and at fairs and festivals. In the states, our visions of outdoor vendors include hot dogs, burgers and corn dogs. In Spain, vendors sell paella made in huge pans. They’re topped with crabs, shrimp and any kind of seafood and meat you can think of. They’re served huge and dished out to the many! As you can see, paella is more of a social food meant to be enjoyed in relaxed atmospheres while sipping on ice cold Sangria!
Paella originated in Valencia. Like many Spanish foods, it was originally a poor man’s dish. It was cooked outdoors on the open flame and eaten directly out of the dish using wooden spoons. Originally, paella was made with chicken, duck, rabbit and snails since seafood was hard to come by. Snails being the most common since it was so cheap. Today, paella is eaten throughout the entire world, however, Valencia still has pride over their dish and I’m told, the best paella in the world!
As for my family and I smack in the middle of the U.S.A., we do the best we can to replicate the recipes passed on through my family. Unfortunately, the seafood we find here has no comparison to what you can find in Spain and on the coasts of the U.S.A. Although the end result is still wonderful, it will never compare to what my family makes in Spain. As I stress so often, it comes down to ingredients. Fresh, local, wild seafood or local meats pastured by family farmers.
you’ll need a paella burner and a paella pan which can be purchased through latienda.com.
My mother and I started in the late afternoon, knowing very well we were going to be dining late. The boys had their final softball game and who can get in the way of that, right? Before I start on the recipe, I need to give all of the credit to my mother as she is truly amazing when it comes to cooking. She’s a natural. Like the rest of our family in Spain, she never uses a measuring cup. She just knows how much to add of this and that. Her only flaw is that she always forgets the salt, LOL! Ah, no importa (it doesn’t matter), she alway’s says, it can always be added later.
What I’ve learned is that the paella does take time to prepare. It’s done in stages and if done right, all of the work is well worth it. For our paella we used shrimp, mussels, and calamari.
The paella is done in 3 stages.
- Making your fish stock. (This is very important for a great tasting versus an ok paella.)
- The sofrito.
- Adding the fish stock and rice.
Stage 1. Making your fish stock
(We made a paella in an 18″ paella pan for 12. You’ll need to adjust accordingly)
- 1 large white onion chopped
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- The shells of the shrimp you will be using in the paella
- 10 cups water (for every cup of rice you use, you’ll need 2 1/2 cups of water)
- In a large pot, saute the onion, tomato and garlic until the onions are translucent and the tomato cooked down.
- Add the shrimp shells and heat for a few minutes.
- Add the water and boil gently for 30 minutes.
- This is the stock you’ll be using at the very last stage. At that time, you will need to empty the pot into a colander to seperate the juice from the shells and veggies.
Stage 2. Making the Sofrito
The sofrito is another important part of a great paella. A sofrito is the sauteeing of the main vegetable ingredients of the paella and cooking it down in fresh tomato’s. The seafood is then added into this to incorporate flavors before adding the fish stock and rice. It’s important to let the tomato condense to an almost paste before adding in the stock.
- 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 large red pepper, diced
- 1 large green pepper, diced
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 large tomato’s, chopped
- Start the paella burner on medium heat.
- In the paella pan add the olive oil and peppers and cook for about 10 minutes stirring often.
- Once the green peppers have cooked through, add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions start to turn translucent.
- Add the tomato’s and simmer, stirring often until the juices of the tomato’s have condensed to a paste.
- Once everything has turned into a paste, add the seafood you will be using and simmer for about 5 minutes incorporating the flavors. We added the shrimp, mussels, and calamari.
Now is the time to add the fish stock and rice! We’re almost done!!
The rice that is used to make authentic paella is called Bomba rice and can be purchased through latienda.com or our local Gateway Market.
- Add 4 cups rice and 10 cups fish stock
- Add 2 pinches of saffron threads
- Add the juice of 1 lemon
- Add 3/4 cup frozen peas
- Make sure to spread the rice, veggies, and seafood out into the pan evenly
- Now is the time to leave it ALONE! Do not stir.
- Let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until the rice is tender. You’ll start to hear crackling sounds which is okay!