Whether you love the crusty Spanish version or the soupy Mexican type, there’s something irresistible about tasty paella.
If you’re intrigued by this dish but have been too scared to try your hand at making it, now is the perfect chance to learn from Argentinian-born Lola who is famous for impressing punters at South Melbourne market with her incredible food.
Once you have mastered the traditional Spanish variety, have a go at our Mexican version and decide which one you like best.
Spanish paella is distinguished by it’s traditional chewy and flavour packed crust. The Mexican type is more like a soupy stew.
We find it impossible to choose, so we’ll take one of each.
Pair either with a glass of this gorgeous Sangria and you’re all set.
- Wolstead Steeltek Stockpot 12L
- Wolstead Steeltek Saucepan (medium and large from the set)
- Chef’s knife
- Cutting board
- A pair of tongs
- Wooden spoon
- Freezer-safe preserving jars or reusable food bags
- Garcima paella pan
- Three medium mixing bowls
- Large jug
- Cocktail stirrer
- Wide cocktail glasses
For the fish stock
- 1kg fish spines
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 medium leek
- 1 stick of celery
- 1 onion
- 1 bay leaf
- Thyme, to taste
- Ground pepper, to taste
- 6 tbsp oil
For the paella
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 raw prawns per person
- 1-2 mussels per person
- 1 calamari or squid, cut into rings
- 1 chorizo, mildly cut into wheels
- 1 chicken breast, sliced into bite-sized cubes
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 4 Roma tomatoes, grated
- ½ red capsicum
- ½ green capsicum
- 600g Calasparra rice
- 1.2L fish stock
- 6 saffron sticks
- A pinch of saffron powder
- A pinch of salt
For the sangria
- 1 red wine bottle
- ½ apple
- ½ orange
- A couple strawberries
- Cinnamon stick
- 200ml Fanta orange
- 200ml Fanta lemon
- 3 bottle cups of Cointreau
To make the fish broth
- In a big pot, heat the oil. Add the spines and all the fish and seal them in hot oil. Once sealed, take them out and set them aside in a big bowl.
- In the same oil, fry the vegetables until golden brown and caramelised.
- Re-add the spines and fish, bay leaf, thyme, ground pepper and parsley.
- Pour the water over the top.
- Cook, simmering for about 40 minutes (never more than 45 minutes due to fish ammonia).
- While cooking, remove the white skin that will form on the surface as it will give the stock a bad taste.
- Once cooked, drain the mixture and pass it through a fine sieve or muslin cloth.
- Once cooled, transfer the stock into different jars or bags to freeze in easy-to-use portions.
- When using, reheat the broth in a pot and taste it before adding to your dish, just to check if it’s still good.
To cook the paella
- Place all meats and seafood in the paella pan with the oil. Cook them for 2 minutes to coat the pan with all flavours as of the sea and earth. Remove prawns and mussels.
- Make a sofrito (sweat) with all the vegetables and saffron, then add rice. Combine all ingredients. Add in the broth, salt, and saffron powder, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.
- Place the seafood back on top of the rice. At this stage, have a full stop at stirring. Let it cook for 5 more minutes to make the socarrat (crust).
- Garnish with lemon wedges, parsley chopped julienne, paprika sprinkle, and aioli (optional).
To prepare the sangria
- Cut the fruits into small dices then place them in a large jug.
- Add cinnamon, Contrieau, red wine, and soft drinks.
- Stir to mix all the ingredients.
- Serve cold with ice.
- For a really red-coloured fish broth, add crabs and other res crustaceans, frying them in hot oil in the beginning. When they are red in colour, pour in 3 tablespoons of brandy or similar liqueurs and flame them. Set them apart and grind them a little bit. Then continue from Step 1, adding the crustaceans at Step 3 with the other fish.
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 large red or green capsicums
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 6 chicken thighs
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 2 Mexican chorizo sausage, casings removed
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cups rice
- 6 Prawns, peeled, tail-on and deveined
- 6 mussels, scrubbed
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 tbls chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tbls silver tequila (optional)
- Place chicken stock and 1 tsp salt in a medium saucepan. Cover and heat over low heat.
- Cook capsicums on a very hot griddle, turning frequently, until charred. Remove from heat and remove charred skin using a paper towel; remove stem and seeds. Rinse pepper, pat dry and cut into strips.
- Place tomatoes and their juices in a blender. Blend until smooth.
- Heat olive oil in a 12-inch paella pan over medium-high heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and place skin-side down in pan. Cook until the skin is deep golden, about 10 minutes. Turn and cook until chicken is browned and juices run clear, about 10 minutes more. Set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium and add onion and chorizo. Cook, stirring, until chorizo is cooked through and onion begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Capsicum and tomato puree. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and oil begins to separate from mixture, about 5 minutes.
- Add rice to pan and cook, stirring, until rice turns milky white in color, 4 to 5 minutes. Add heated chicken broth and stir to combine. Cook, without stirring, until rice has absorbed most of the liquid and is almost cooked through, about 12 minutes.
- Return chicken to pan and nestle into the center of the rice. Arrange shrimp in a ring around the chicken and the mussels in the rice at the edge of the pan. Cover the pan with a piece of aluminum foil and cook for 15 minutes longer.
- Stir in peas, parsley, and tequila, if desired. Using a large serving spoon, Re-cover and let stand for 10 minutes until rice and shellfish are cooked through. Serve immediately.
Good to Know
Why do you need a paella pan?
- The pan used to make paella, also called paella, from which the dish got its name, is a flat, shallow, wide, and round pan with slightly sloping sides. It is an important pan that lends authenticity to paella in taste, texture, and serving. The shape ensures that the rice cooks evenly in one layer. Experts say the best paella pan should be made of carbon steel so it heats fast but won’t retain too much heat, allowing for rice to cook and get a nice crust without burning. Though you may substitute a stainless steel or aluminum skillet, cast-iron and non-stick pans are highly discouraged.
How to select the right rice for paella
- While there are many types of rice on the market, you can’t simply use any to make paella. Bomba rice which is unique in Spain is the best to use and it can be bought in specialty shops or by mail. However, it won’t be cheap. So if you want something more accessible and inexpensive, you may use short-grain rice like arborio—a rice used to make risotto—as they absorb about three times more liquid than regular rice, rendering more flavour to your paella.