This seafood paella is a blend of saffron rice, Spanish chorizo, shrimp, clams and mussels, all simmered together to create an easy and satisfying one pot meal. This dinner is quick enough to make on a busy weeknight, yet elegant enough to serve to company.
What are the main ingredients in paella?
There are many different versions of paella, but they all have the same basic ingredient list.
- Rice: Short grain rice is traditional in paella dishes. Bomba or Calasparra rice are the two most common Spanish varieties, and can be found in some larger grocery stores. If you can’t find either of these types of rice, substitute a different short grain rice such as Calrose or Arborio.
- Protein: Most versions of paella contain some form of meat or seafood. The most common meat options include chicken, duck, rabbit and sausage such as chorizo. Seafood options include a variety of fish and shellfish.
- Saffon: This is a spice that comes from crocus flowers and is the ingredient that turns the rice its characteristic golden hue and fragrant flavor and aroma. Saffron is expensive, but a little goes a long way and it’s crucial for an authentic dish.
- Vegetables: Paella contains any number of veggies. The most common additions are onions, peas, red bell peppers and tomatoes.
How do you make seafood paella?
Start by steeping the saffron in hot chicken broth to release its flavors. Cook onion, garlic and red bell peppers in a large pan until the veggies are tender. Add the rice to the pan, along with the chicken broth. Cover the pot and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes. Add the chorizo, shrimp, mussels and clams to the rice mixture. Cover again, then cook for 15-20 minutes until shellfish have opened and shrimp are pink and opaque. Turn up the heat to let a crust form on the bottom of the rice. Add a handful of peas and a sprinkle of parsley, then serve and enjoy.
Tips for the perfect dish
- I like to use medium to large sized shrimp for this dish. You can use fresh or frozen shrimp, just make sure the shrimp are thawed.
- You will know that the seafood is done when the clams and mussels have opened up. Discard any clams or mussels that stay closed after they’re cooked.
- This dish is best served immediately after it’s prepared. Leftovers will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- Seafood paella works best with a large flat pan or a cast iron skillet.
- The crispy bottom of the rice is called the socarrat, and it makes this recipe taste authentic.
Seafood paella flavor variations
While this dish is fabulous as-is, feel free to add other ingredients to customize the flavors to your tastes.
- Sausage: If you can’t find traditional hard Spanish chorizo, you can substitute a smoked sausage such as kielbasa or an Italian style sausage.
- Protein: You can use different types of protein including chicken thighs, calamari, pieces of fish or small lobster tails.
- Vegetables: Add more veggies such as asparagus, artichoke, green beans or spinach.
When you want the flavors of Spain in the comfort of your own home, this paella is a must-make!
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Seafood Paella Video
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup onion diced
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper peeled, cored and diced
- 2 1/2 teaspoons garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 1/4 cups short grain rice such as bomba, calasparra or arborio
- 8 ounces Spanish chorizo sausage sliced
- 12 ounces shrimp peeled and deveined
- 8 ounces mussels cleaned
- 12 ounces clams cleaned
- 1/4 cup frozen peas thawed
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
- lemon wedges for garnish
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pour the chicken broth into a pot and bring to a simmer. Stir in the saffron and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes.
- Heat the olive oil in an extra large deep skillet or paella pan (14 inches or larger) over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper, then cook for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and smoked paprika, then cook for 30 seconds. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour in the chicken broth mixture and rice, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.
- Add the sausage, shrimp, mussels and clams to the pan. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and opaque and shellfish have opened. You may need to flip the shrimp halfway through so that they cook evenly. Turn the heat to high, and cook for 5 more minutes to form a crust on the bottom of the rice.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Add the peas, then cover the pan for 5 minutes. Uncover the pan, add the parsley, then serve, garnished with lemon wedges if desired.