Hey everyone! I've been wanting to do this for many years, and I finally did it. I cooked my first paella! This is one of the most typical dishes in my country, Spain, and also a big tradition in my family. My father cooks paella every weekend, and so did my grandmother... This is my fifth year abroad, and I can say this is one of the things I miss the most about home. Paella means family, home and taste for me. It was about time I challenged myself with it! And you can try it to, it's not as hard as it seems following the steps that my father outlined for me via Skype. Let's get started!
First of all, you need a paella pan. You can try on other pans, but this is the real thing. I am making paella for 2, even though this is perfectly fine for 3 as well. In my family we usually make mixed paella, which means it contains both meat and seafood.
In addition to the paella pan, you will also need:
- Rice (they sell paella rice in some grocery's, usually imported from Spain, but any rice that's good for risotto will do the trick. I used Carnaroli rice.)
- Green pepper
- Tomato sauce
- Green peas
- Chicken broth
- White wine
- Olive oil
I'm not specifying the quantities because you can add as much as you want of anything. You can follow your instinct after watching the pictures. Be brave!
Let's get started:
1) First cook the shrimps and the mussels. I bought fresh shrimps, which I cooked on the paella pan for a few minutes. I got frozen mussels because they're more convenient and taste great! You only need some water, a saucepan and about 8 minutes.
Once the shrimps and the mussels are cooked, you can put them aside. You'll add them towards the end.
2) Chop the onions and cook them with olive oil. You can add some oil to the paella pan where you cooked the shrimps, don't wash it! While the onions start cooking, you can chop the green pepper and add it a few minutes later. Let it cook until the onions get golden brown.
3) Now it's time to add the meat. I didn't specify what type of meat because you can put whatever you like as long as you can chop it in small pieces. Some people use beef ribs, round... it is really up to you.
4) When the meat looks like medium cooked, pour some wine and let it evaporate. This brings a great flavor!
5) Once the wine has evaporated, you can add the chopped squid and the green peas.
Let it cook for a few more minutes. The squid cooks really fast. At this point it's important that you keep stirring the food so it doesn't get stuck at the bottom.
6) When the squid is cooked and the green peas are tender, add about a cup of tomato sauce and stir. Let it cook all together for a few more minutes.
7) Now it's finally time to add the rice! This is how much I put per person:
With this amount per person, you can expect to have leftovers (which are amazing the next day!)
When you add the rice, stir and let it blend with everything for a couple minutes.
8) Add the chicken broth and stir. I usually have the chicken broth boiling in a pot next to the paella. You need to add enough to cover the rice and let there until the rice starts absorbing it. You will need to continue adding broth when it's absorbed, just enough to cover the rice for every time you repeat this step.
It is important that you keep stirring from time to time if you don't want the rice at the bottom to stick to the pan. However, in Spain we call it "socarrat". That's the layer of rice that sticks and gets "toasted". It has a great flavor... but if you're not ready for it, just keep stirring.
9) When the rice is almost cooked (it depends on the quantity, but usually about 18 minutes,) and before all the broth evaporates, add the shrimps and the mussels so that they blend in and warm up. Be creative with your decoration! Eyes also enjoy food...
10) Almost ready! Once the rice is cooked, you want to let it rest for a couple minutes. I didn't have a lid for the paella, so I used a clean dishcloth to cover it.
11) Add half a lemon (so you and your guests can squeeze some lemon juice on the rice, or just for the looks) and voilà! Your paella is ready to serve!
I have to say it tasted better than I expected... and now I can't wait for next weekend to try again! It did taste like home on Sundays, and I'm sure my parents would be proud.
Please go ahead and try to make one yourself! Thanks for reading and see you soon!