Simple Seafood Paella

Paella is an uncomplicated and quick dish to prepare at home, once you get to know the basic ingredients and keep a few of these on hand. When a bag of mussels and a handful of fresh green prawns saunters my way, I now turn to Paella. It’s easier than risotto, with no stirring involved, and can be made on a regular gas stove.

The basics for Paella
The basics for Paella.

In the pantry you will need these standbys:

  • a small container of commercial pre-made fish stock, or home-made frozen stock or one vegetable stock cube
  • some good quality Spanish smoked pimenton ( paprika )
  • Calasparra rice- no other rice will do for this dish
  • saffron strands

Some other desirable ingredients for a seafood paella for two people are:

  • some left over calamari wings, stashed in the freezer*
  • some green prawns, three large or 6 small per person
  • mussels, around 6 per person
  • one green or red capsicum, sliced
  • one finely sliced onion
  • one finely chopped garlic
  • good olive oil
  • parsley

You don’t need a special paella pan for a no fuss paella for two people. I use a heavy based frying 20-25 cm frying pan with a glass lid. My other paella pans come out and are used for bigger gatherings. Just double or triple the quantities for your larger pans and seek out an even and very large heat source.

Pictorial recipe instructions follow.

Fry the onion, garlic and red capsicum in two tablepoons olive oil.
Gently fry the onion, garlic and red capsicum in two tablespoons olive oil for around 5 minutes or until softened but not coloured.
after the onions have softened but not browned, add the rice and stir about until opaque
Add one cup of Calasparra rice and stir about until opaque
Grind one generous pinch od saffrom with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt in a mortar and pestle and add to the pan.
Grind one generous pinch of saffron with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt in a mortar and pestle and add to the pan. Add a little water to the mortar and add remaining saffron water to the pan.
Add the sliced strips of calamari wing and smoked pimento to the pan along with 2 1/2cups of stock.
Add the sliced strips of calamari wing and 1-2 teaspoons of smoked pimento ( I like mine smoky) to the pan along with 2.5 cups of stock. Commercial fish stock packets usually contain two cups. Add extra water if needed, or use a stock cube. Cover the pan with a suitably fitting glass lid and cook on low to medium heat for 15- 20 minutes. Relax.
after 20 minutes, add the mussels to the pan, and cover.
When the rice has swelled and most of the liquid has been absorbed, add the mussels to the pan, and cover. After another five minutes, add the prawns and cover until cooked. Check that liquid has been absorbed and the dish should now be ready to serve.
Serve in the pan, with finely chopped parsley
Serve in the pan, with finely chopped parsley
The bottom will have formed a slightly golden crust. The soccarat is the best bit.
The bottom will have formed a slightly golden crust. The soccarat is the best bit.
More than enough for two, with some leftovers for breakfast or lunch.
More than enough for two, with some leftovers for breakfast or lunch.
The big fellas used for larger crowds. Not so suitable for stove top cooking.
The big fellas, used for larger crowds are not so suitable for stove top cooking

After preparing fresh calamari for another meal, stash the wings in the freezer for occasions like this. They defrost very quickly and add depth of flavour to the rice as it cooks. I have also used a small fillet of Dory in the same way.  I learnt this trick from Sandra at Please Pass the Recipe and the habit has stuck.

30 thoughts on “Simple Seafood Paella”

  1. Hey Francesca, we have been enjoying paella for some time now, it is so easy it is almost a Friday night staple. I have a memory of
    reading that sherry goes very well with paella

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have used Italian rice sometimes, I feel the grain gets too fat, unless its a good carnaroli. At the beach I use Australian medium grain rice when not near a source of Calasparra, and adjust the cooking time. Beach food.

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  2. I was given a large paella pan but haven’t used it (for paella). It’s far too big for 2 or even 4 so it sit pretty much unloved in the cupboard. It also doesn’t have a lid. This seems a far more practical way to go so thanks for sharing this. Of course, it helps that you are using my favourite comedy tin of paprika. All good Spanish 60’s hipsters recommend it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I very rarely use the large paella pan either. My daughter found it an an op shop, unloved, and I stole it from her- or rather her partner, who was using it in his BBQ for large pizzas. The using of lids is not traditional at all, but seems to work well in the kitchen an easy paella.
      I thought of you when I photographed the little tin of Spanish Pimenton. Did you know that the hipster thing is now officially passe`?

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  3. Sugar!! Had never even heard of calasparra rice but am glad other kinds will ‘do’! Love paella, make it oft, don’t even have a proper paella pan at the moment but get the results 🙂 ! All that lovely crust at the bottom!! Well, my wok was superannuated awhile ago also – I still make mean stirfries . . . . !!! Small kitchen, expansive foodie mind . . . . few problems . . .

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  4. Nice recipe. Will need to adapt it for prawn allergies in our household. Any suggestions on types of fish to substitute? I thought monkfish in small chunks…? Sandra’s tips are always useful! I also stash those calamari wings away in the freezer.

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    1. Yes, bits of monkfish would add flavour. Those with prawn allergy often are allergic to calamari and mussels too. A vegetarian one is nice, especially in fava season. Red peppers, tomatoes, lots of double shelled fave… smoky pimenton…

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      1. He avoids all shellfish as a precaution, but he loves calamari. I also make a rabbit one, but anathema to for non-meat eaters like yourself. Paella is a wonderful dish where almost anything goes – great for kitchen creativity. Smoky pimenton is a must in our kitchen! We love it.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m not sure I’ve ever tried paella, how’s that for an admission? I have never been a big lover of rice (based on the Sunwhite Calrose cooked in milk I had to endure as a kid), I do enjoy risotto if I cook it or its from a reliable venue and I love fried rice now. Are there good options without seafood? Mr ATMT has an allergy!

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    1. If you like risotto you would also like paella. It is pretty similar, using great imported rice and no stirring. I think the trad ones also add rabbit and broad beans. Chorizo and chicken turn up a lot in Paella too. Here’s one by Jamie using the latter. Odd- the photo doesn’t even look like a paella. http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/rice-recipes/chicken-chorizo-paella/I am sure by trawling through a few Spanish sites, that you will find a great meaty one. Sue same spices, with chicken thighs and chorizo.

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    1. You could use arborio at a pinch- especially if it was a good Carnaroli, one with a slightly smaller and browner grain from around Pavia. But this dish screams Brisbane. A dish for wen you return to that warm city.

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  6. When I find myself with prawns and mussels, Francesca, I break out the pasta machine. I’ve shied away from preparing paella but you’ve demystified the process for us. I’ll be on the lookout for the rice. If it’s around, I’ll find it. Can a paella be far behind? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also like fresh seafood with pasta, a lovely dish and showy, like a good paella. Yes, John, you will find that Calasparra. I buy mine in a big Italian ( yes) grocery store but if you have a Spanish district near where you live, you will find it there, or in a specialist deli.

      Liked by 1 person

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