In an effort to promote the livelihood of the Bayan Ni Juan community, this recipe is especially dedicated to ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc. They have a program called BayaniJuan, an organized community composed of former Estero De Paco dwellers and victims of Ondoy. They help as much as they can for the community to earn a living. One of their livelihood products are salted duck eggs.
Paella is currently an internationally-known rice dish from Spain. It originated in the fields of a region called Valencia on the eastern coast of Spain. Today paella is made in every region of Spain, using just about any kind of ingredient that goes well with rice. There are as many versions of paella as there are cooks. It may contain chicken, pork, shellfish, fish, eel, squid, beans, peas, artichokes or peppers. Saffron, the spice that also turns the rice a wonderful golden color is an essential part of the dish.
Below you will find an authentic Paella recipe I used, but having readily ingredients I had available, which essentially gives it my own personal twist. Hopefully it will yield to be an easy-to-follow along recipe for you should you be a newbie paella cook like me!
- 2 medium, ripe tomatoes (about 12 ounces) [I used a favorite can variety from a local grocery store which was called Fire-Roasted Tomatoes]
- 16 large shrimp (about 12 ounces), peeled and deveined [I didn’t peel the shrimps to give the paella an authentic, rustic look, plus it gives it more flavors throughout]
- 1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (pimentón dulce)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces [optional]
- 8 ounces Spanish chorizo, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, as needed
- 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
- 2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped [I chose to just mash the garlic cloves and include the peel with them…again, for the rustic look, and flavor profile]
- 1 large pinch saffron threads
- 2 cups paella rice (about 1 pound), sometimes labeled bomba or Valencia
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning the shrimp and chicken
- 4 cups (1 quart) low-sodium chicken broth
- 16 mussels, Manila clams, or a combination, scrubbed [optional]
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 2 medium lemons, cut into 8 wedges each, for serving [optional]
Ingredients which I used for my recipe
- 1 can Whole clams, including juices
- 3 Hard-boiled eggs, peeled, sliced for garnish
- 1 Salted duck egg (can be purchased at any Asian Market), peeled, sliced to add flavor and garnish
- Pinch chili pepper flakes
- 1 small can black olives
- 3 small sweet bell peppers, remove seeds, sliced
Special equipment: This dish is named after the two-handled pan it is cooked in. You will need a 15-inch paella pan because its wide surface area ensures that the rice cooks in a thin, even layer.
What to buy: Spanish chorizo (not to be confused with its Mexican counterpart) is a dried, smoked, ready-to-eat pork sausage. It can be mild or spicy, and is found at gourmet markets or online. If you can’t find Spanish chorizo, you can sub in some andouille sausage.
Paella rice, sometimes labeled bomba or Valencia, is a white short-grain rice prized for its ability to stay firm when cooked. It can be found in gourmet grocery stores. If you can’t find paella rice, Arborio rice can be substituted, although the texture will be slightly softer when cooked.
- Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
- Core and halve the tomatoes. Grate the flesh side of each half on the large holes of a box grater set over a medium bowl, stopping when you get to the skin. Discard the skins. You should have about 3/4 cup of tomato pulp and juice; set aside.
- Place the shrimp in a medium bowl, add 1/4 teaspoon of the paprika, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and refrigerate.
- Place the chicken in a medium bowl and season generously with salt and pepper; set aside.
- Place a 15-inch paella pan across two burners and heat over medium-high heat until hot, about 2 minutes. Add the chorizo to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until it has started to brown and the fat has rendered, about 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a large bowl; set aside.
- There should be a thin layer of rendered fat in the pan. If there’s not enough, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the seasoned chicken to the pan in a single layer and sear, stirring occasionally, until both sides are golden brown, about 6 minutes total. (You will need to rotate the pan occasionally over the burners to evenly distribute the heat.) Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to the bowl with the chorizo; set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, remaining 3/4 teaspoon paprika, and saffron, stir to combine, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the reserved tomato pulp and juice and cook until the mixture has slightly darkened in color, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and measured salt and stir to coat in the tomato mixture.
- Increase the heat to medium high. Add the broth and stir to combine. Arrange the rice mixture in an even layer. Distribute the reserved chorizo and chicken over the rice, adding any accumulated juices from the bowl. [Do not stir the rice from this point on.]
- Bring to a lively simmer and continue to simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary and rotating the pan 90 degrees every few minutes, until the rice grains have swelled, most of the liquid has been absorbed, and the rice starts to make a crackling sound, about 12 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Arrange the reserved shrimp and the shellfish (hinge-side down) in the rice, nestling them slightly. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the shellfish have opened, the shrimp are just cooked through, and the rice is tender but still al dente, about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack. Cover with foil and let stand for 5 minutes. Before serving the paella, discard any unopened shellfish and sprinkle the dish with the parsley. Serve with the lemon wedges.