Paella de marisco (seafood paella) is a dish, I’ve studied quite a lot, since I live in Spain. Also, it’s “the meal” every guests that comes visit is looking forward to try… I had to make it quite a few times. The beauty in seafood paella is that you can use whatever “seafood” you prefer, although the usual crawfishes (cigalas) and/or prawns (langostinos) are an important topping element. Also typically, you’ll find whether mussels or clams in the seafood paella, the rest is all up to you. So for this version, I’ve simply used crawfish as a topping and in the paella are a few clams and shrimp tails. But you could also use other types of seafood like, calamari, lobster, prawns, etc.
What gives the color to a seafood paella, if you do it the real way (no colorant) is the paprika and saffron. Often omitted, the saffron gives this great golden color to a paella, the only “problem” with it… it’s the price of this spice. So if you do not have any safran, you can always simply use some smoked paprika (spicy or sweet) and if you want an extra color, add little turmeric or food colorant.
The flavor of this dish lies in the broth mostly, which is a fumet. This fumet needs to be tasty and then you’ll have a successful paella. It’s fairly easy to make your own fumet, not as long as the chicken broth or else, it takes no more than a 40 minutes simmering. For this paella I’ve simply used a good artesanal premade fumet.
This dish is usually eaten on a sunday afternoon, surrounded with friends and spending the afternoon (late brunch) on a restaurant terrasse by the sea or as a communal dinner with the neighbours. Paellas, originally, were used to be made over a direct fire, which gave the paella a smokey flavour. But in our modern days, you simply use the special Pimenton de la Vera (smoked paprika; spicy or sweet) to recreate this light smoky flavour.
The best part of paella always lies at the bottom of the pan, a tasty toasted crust. It’s called the “socarrat” and only possible when using the special paella pan and with a direct flame, otherwise you’ll never get to create it. It’ s not necessary, although in Spain, a paella without this toasted crust “socarrat” it’s like a cheeseburger without cheese.
So let’s make this famous Spanish recipe!
Makes 4 portions
- 6 crawfishes or prawns
- 20 shrimp tails
- 20 clams
- 300g of bomba rice
- 750g fumet
- 100 ml of dry white wine
- 6 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil (more or less)
- 1 big juicy tomato cut into 2
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic finely chopped
- 1 small bell pepper cut into dices
- 2 tsp of smoked paprika (sweet preferably but could also be spicy)
- 1/2 tsp of saffron *optional
- salt, pepper
*Warm up the fumet in a pot
- Start by searing (high heat) shortly the crawfishes or prawns in the paellera (or pan) in 2 tbsp of olive oil, high heat, about 1 minute on each side
- Salt and reserve
- Add the onion and garlic, medium high heat, until translucent
- With a fine cheese grater, grate the inside of the tomato over the onions until only the skin is left
- Add the pepper dices, paprika, shrimps tails, clams and the white wine
- Wait until the juice become a light paste, mix during this time (the clams will open up)
- Make a well in the middle of the pan and add an extra 1 tbsp of olive oil
- Add the rice in the middle, and mix well for a minute or two until the rice is slightly fried
- Add the warm broth to cover by double the height of the rice, bring to high heat
- Add the saffron and salt, mix for a last time the paella
- Cook the first 5 minutes to high heat, then reduce to medium-high heat for the last 10 minutes
- Add the crawfishes or prawns a few minutes before the end of coccion
- Check for the rice coccion, add broth if necessary
- When the rice is al dente take off the fire and cover with a clean towel
- Let the paella soak up all the liquid left for a few minutes (3-4 minutes)
Serve with a good wine and good friends. Enjoy!