Spanish paella is the national dish of Spain, originating from the Valencian community in the country and popular among the Spanish beyond this community. Paella is a really flexible dish that combines saffron-cooked rice with many different types of ingredients, including seafood, vegetables and beans, depending on which of these are available where the locals stay – similar to how people in other countries try to use the freshest ingredients available to cook their rice with.
What makes paella unique from other types of rice is that paella is cooked with olive oil and saffron, hence the yellowish tinge and spiced flavour; it is also cooked in a shallow pan over an open fire such that the rice at the bottom gets burnt. This burnt rice is supposedly what makes for a good and enjoyable plate of paella.
At home, I don’t have a huge shallow pan to cook my paella with; neither do I have the luxury of an open fire to cook this dish. But I have with me the freshest seafood bought from the supermarket and some saffron that remained in my fridge and which can finally be put to good use in this instance.
- Olive oil: 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp + 2 tbsp
- Chorizo sausage: 100g, sliced thinly
- Chicken breast: 300g, chunked
- White fish fillet: 400g, chunked
- White onion: 1, finely chopped
- Red bell pepper: 1, diced
- Garlic: 4 cloves, finely chopped
- Saffron: 2 pinches, steeped in 2 tbsp hot water for 5 min
- Dry white wine: 1/2 cup
- Chopped tomatoes (in tin or fresh): 400g
- Arborio rice: 4 cups (500g)
- Salt: 2 tsp
- Ground blackpepper: 1 tsp
- Fish stock: 1 liter (warm)
- Calamari: 200g, skinned, cleaned and sliced into rings
- Mussels (with shells): 500g, cleaned
- Coriander: 1 stalk, chopped finely
- Lemon: 1, wedged
- Add 1 tbsp olive oil into pot.
- Fry sausages for 4 min till oil is released. Remove and set aside.
- Use the remaining chorizo oil to fry chicken till just browned on the outside. Remove and set aside.
- Add 1 tbsp olive oil into pot. Fry fish briefly to seal. Remove and set aside.
- Add 2 tbsp olive oil into pot. Fry onions and red pepper for 5 min till soft.
- Add garlic, saffron with water, wine and tomatoes. Cook for a few min till sauce is thickened.
- Add rice, salt, blackpepper and fish stock. Place lid on and leave to simmer on low heat for 10 min.
- Add in calamari, fish, sausages, chicken and mussels. Push mussels into rice. Place lid on and cook for another 5 min.
- Turn off heat when mussels open up. Serve hot with coriander and lemon wedges.
- This recipe was kindly adapted from Sam Linsell’s ‘Paella‘ at Drizzle and Dip.
- I used long grain rice to cook the dish as I didn’t want to go the extra mile (and money) to buy Arborio rice just to cook this dish. It’s really expensive in Singapore!
- Most paella dishes would also add in fresh prawns at step 8 above. I replaced them with green mussels as the latter was cheaper to buy in bulk at the local supermarket.