Like many people, we really enjoy paella because it is versatile and not particularly complicated to make. Obviously we associate paella the time that we spent in Spain, but we’ve also had it in resorts in Mexico as well as the Caribbean. The key to making seafood paella is making sure that you are using the freshest seafood possible. We actually had the clams and mussels shipped to us from a company called Maine Lobster Now, which is also where we got our fresh lobster from last year for our anniversary when we were all in lockdown. The other key is using short-grain rice such as Bomba or Calasparra. Fortunately, in these days those are also available online if not in a store near you. Even though it is a simple dish to make and very rustic, it is perfect for a gathering where you can simply put the paella in the center of the table and let people serve themselves. Although we limited it to seafood, you can definitely add chicken thighs to make the dish even more hearty. It is quite common to add peas to a paella, but we have a food allergy in our family, so we did not add them. We made a slightly smaller batch that would serve 3 to 4 people, but it is easy to increase it to serve for a crowd.
- 6 to 8 Live Clams – scrubbed and cleaned
- 8 to 10 Live Mussels – scrubbed, cleaned, and debearded
- 8 to 10 Large Shrimp – peeled and deveined
- 1 cup Bomba Rice
- 1/2 Yellow Onion – finely diced
- 1 Small Clove of Garlic – minced
- 1/4 cup Red Bell Pepper – cut into strips
- 1/3 cup Tomato Purée
- 2 3/4 cups Chicken Stock – preferably homemade
- 1/4 tsp Saffron
- 1/2 to 3/4 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Green Onion for garnish
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Add the olive oil to a large cast-iron skillet (or a paella pan if you have one, but it isn’t necessary) and heat the oil to medium-high heat. Add the onion and simmer for 2 minutes and then add the garlic to the oil and simmer for and addition 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomato purée and simmer for another 4 to 5 minutes and the liquid has reduced. Add the chicken stock, saffron, paprika, salt and pepper, and turn the heat to high in order to bring the liquid to a boil. Evenly distribute the rice around the pan and cook the rice for 10 minutes. Place the clams, mussels, and shrimp into the pan, being sure that the seafood doesn’t touch one another, and press them down into the rice and liquid. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. At this point some of the clams and mussels might have opened. Add the red pepper to the pan and cover (if all of the liquid has absorbed, add a little more stock) and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, checking every few minutes, until all of the clams and mussels have opened. If any of the clams or mussels don’t open, discard them, but if your seafood is really fresh, there shouldn’t be too many that don’t open. Garnish with the green onion and serve.