The Ultimate Authentic Spanish Paella Recipe (Valenciana)
Valencian Paella Recipe
Welcome and Bienvenido! Paella is an easy, (fairly) quick and a fantastically enjoyable meal that is perfect for sharing with family and friends. A good paella will make you smile - you only need to look at all the vibrant colors to see that paella is happy food!
Right now I am going to share with you the secrets of my 100% authentic paella recipe and I will also show you how to make a mixed paella (seafood and meat) or a simple chicken paella.
Regional Paella Variations
Each part of Spain has it's own version of paella and uses quite a variety of ingredients, so you may come across some paella recipes using peas, snails or chorizo. This particular recipe is from my home region in Spain, Valencia - the original home of paella. Though there are several regional variations of paella, the essentials of making a good paella are the same throughout.
- Good Quality Paella Rice
- Correct Ratio of Water to Rice (we don't want over or undercooked rice)
Getting all the yummy flavors into the cooking oil and stock
Seafood Paella Ingredients
Paella for 4 Persons
Cooking Time = 30 - 40 minutes
- Squid x 4
- Mussels x 24
- Whole Shell On Prawns x 24
- Langoustines (optional) x 8
- Paella Rice x 4 cups
- Saffron or Natural Yellow Food Coloring
- Chick Peas or Butter Beans - 1 x large can
- Runner Beans x 8
- Garlic x 4-6 cloves
- Fresh Tomato (optional)
- Lemons x 1
- Fish Bouillon or stock cubes
- Chicken Bouillon or stock cubes
- Water (or fresh fish stock) x 8 cups
- Red Bell Peppers x 2
- Olive Oil x 2 Tablespoons
- A Newspaper!
You can use any seafood you want to make your paella, but I always use a basis of squid, shell on mussels and shell on prawns. It's nice to have some big ole' langoustines to put on the top but they can be really pricey, so it really depends on how rich I'm feeling as to whether I use them or not. I also sometimes use clams, razor clams or scallops in my paella as well as the basic, squid, mussels and prawns.
One difference to my Abuella's recipe that you'll find here, is the addition of stock cubes or bouillon. She never did this, but she had the advantage of being able to buy her seafood straight off the boat! Since most of the seafood we buy has been frozen and subsequently loses some of it's flavor, I recommend using some form of stock.
- Prep time: 20 min
- Cook time: 40 min
- Ready in: 1 hour
- Yields: Serves 6 - 8 people
Method for Easy Seafood Paella
- Put your paella pan (or if you don't have one, a large frying pan), on your burner, stove or BBQ.
- Add a few tablespoons of olive oil
- Slice 2 large red bell peppers into large slices add to the oil and cook until fairly soft. Remove the peppers onto a plate, making sure to keep as much of the oil in your pan as possible
- Add 4-5 cloves of chopped fresh garlic and cook gently for 3-4 minutes (do not burn your garlic as this will ruin your paella)
- Add half a cup of rice per person to the oil and garlic. Fry the rice in the oil for 2-3 minutes until slightly toasted.
- If you are using stock cubes or powdered bouillon add it now. I usually use 1 fish stock cube and one chicken stock cube for a paella of this size, which is equivalent to about 3 heaped teaspoons of powdered bouillon.
- Using the same measuring cup as you used for the rice, add two cups of water (or fresh fish stock) for each cup of rice.
- Add saffron strands or natural yellow food coloring until you have a nice yellow color and stir the paella to distribute the color and stock evenly.
- Add one large tin of chick peas (or butter beans) as well as the salted water they came in.
- Add your green beans.
- Add the red peppers you cooked earlier.
- Turn the heat up high and allow to boil fairly rapidly.
- Once about half of the water has been absorbed into the rice, add your pieces of squid (around 4 small squid is enough) and a few dozen shell on mussels. Arrange your mussels, peppers and beans so that the paella looks attractive. After this point you must not stir your paella!
- When nearly all the water has been absorbed, taste the rice to see if you need to add a little more water. If you do just add another cup. If you feel the paella would benefit from more garlic add another 1-2 chopped cloves and sprinkle evenly over the paella.
- Add your prawns and langoustines to the top of the paella and cook until all the water has been absorbed. The best paellas will have slightly crispy rice underneath, so keep the heat on without burning the paella for a few minutes.
- Turn off the heat and if you want to sprinkle a chopped fresh tomato on your paella do so now.
- Cover the paella with newspaper or a lid. Leave to sit for 5 minutes.
- Cut a lemon into wedges and place around the edge of the paella.
Traditionally paella is simply served with rustic bread and some nice red wine, but I sometimes make a salad to go with it as well. In Spanish families, paella is usually eaten straight from the pan with a spoon which adds to the social aspect of the dish (but can cause some arguments over who is going to have the last prawn!)
Easy Chicken or Meat Paella
Meats most often used in traditional Valencian paella are chicken thighs with pork belly or rabbit or small pork meatballs (albondigas). If you want to cook a meat paella or meat and seafood paella then it's very easy to do, using exactly the same method as above.
The only difference when cooking a meat paella, is that once you have cooked your red peppers and taken them out of the oil, it's time to cook your meat with the garlic. Ensure that your meat is nearly cooked all the way through before adding the rice.
The best easy paella recipe in my opinion, is a mixed paella that includes chicken, pork and seafood. This type of mixed paella is what we eat most often in my family.
A Note on Paella Rice
It really is important to use paella rice for paella! Paella rice is a short grain variety that cooks comparitively slowly, it is also able to absorb a great deal of liquid and therefore flavor. I have made paella with basmati rice on a few occasions, but it is very hard to get right since it cooks in about half the time as a normal paella, requires less water/stock and the basmati rice does not take on so much flavor. Basmati is an ok option if you've run out of paella rice, but it really is second best.
Ideally you will want a traditional paella pan and a gas burner to cook your paella with. This is by far the best way to cook paella because the gas burner ensures that the heat is distributed evenly across the base of the pan, ensuring that the rice and other ingredients are cooked at the same time.
If you are cooking your paella on a stove it will be a bit more time consuming and awkward as you will need to continually turn your paella to make sure it is all cooked equally. It is possible and I have done it many times, but it's not easy! The larger the paella pan the harder it is.
If you don't have a paella pan then I recommend using a large, fairly deep frying pan to cook your paella.