Paella

Paella made with saffron-infused rice, chicken, sausage, and seafood is hearty, delicious, and a guaranteed holiday favorite.  This Spanish-style rice dish is easy to make in one pan and cooks in one pan!

Paella with shrimp, chicken, mussels in a wide pan

Paella is a Spanish rice dish cooked and served in a paellera, a large shallow frying pan, where it took its name.  It is traditionally made with short grain rice, butter beans or peas, and plentiful meats in the area, such as duck, chicken, rabbit, or seafood. Saffron threads give the dish its characteristic color and flavor, but turmeric can be substituted as a cheaper alternative.

While many consider Paella as the national dish of Spain, it originated from the Valencia region, which is regarded as the home of Paella.  Many variations exist in Spanish-speaking countries and internationally, from the original Paella Valenciana, Paella de mariscos made of seafood, to mixed Paella, which combines meat, seafood, and vegetables.

The Philippine Paella

This Filipino-style Paella or paelya is the perfect example of Spanish influences in our cuisine. A byproduct of 300 years of colonization, it is a delicious fusion of our local tastes and cultural heritage.

As it commonly uses relatively expensive ingredients like saffron and prawns, the dish is mostly relegated to special occasions and holiday celebrations. It’s an elegant and impressive addition to any Christmas feast!

Arroz Valenciana is another Filipino interpretation of the Spanish paella, using native ingredients such as coconut milk and glutinous rice.

Cooking Tips

  • Paella is traditionally cooked in a paellera. If you don’t have one, use a pan that’s wide but not too deep to allow moisture to evaporate quickly. Make sure it’s large enough to allow space for the rice to expand.
  • Other than a quick stir to coat the rice with the sauce, refrain from stirring and leave the paella covered and undisturbed as it cooks. If it is cooking more on one side than the other, just rotate the pan.
  • After you take the rice off the heat, allow it to rest, covered, for at least 10 minutes before serving to absorb excess moisture.

What is a socarrat

It is a Spanish term that describes the golden crunchy crust that forms in the bottom layer of the Paella. The layer develops on its own as the rice cooks or by turning the heat up for a couple of minutes before the cooking is done.

Mixed paella in a white serving bowl

How to serve and store

  • Paella is traditionally served straight from the pan or paellera. You can add lemon wedges before serving.   It is considered a complete meal in itself, but you can also serve it with crusty bread or fried plantain slices.
  • Transfer leftovers as soon as cooled in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months. For food safety, do not leave it at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • To reheat, place Paella in a pan and stir in a tablespoon of olive oil to loosen the rice. Or reheat using a microwave at 2 to 3-minute intervals until completely warmed through, stirring well after each interval to distribute heat.

More Christmas favorites

Paella

Filipino-style Paella is a hearty dish made with saffron-infused rice, chicken, chorizo, and seafood. It’s easy to make in one pan and perfect for everyday family dinners or special occasions.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds whole chicken, cut into serving parts
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 ounces chorizo de bilbao, sliced thickly
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 4 cups long grain rice
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 6 cups warm water
  • 1 pound large shrimp, tendrils trimmed
  • 1 dozen mussels, or littleneck clam, scrubbed and bearded

Equipment

Instructions

  • In a bowl, combine chicken, sweet paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Rub onto the chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  • In a paella pan or wide skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add chorizo de bilbao and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • In the pan, add chicken pieces and cook, turning as needed, until lightly browned. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Add more olive to the pan, if needed. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring regularly, for about 2 to 3 minutes or until softened.
  • Add tomato sauce and cook until slightly reduced.
  • Add rice and stir quickly to fully coat with sauce.
  • Add water and bring to a boil.
  • Add chicken, chorizo de Bilbao, and saffron.
  • Add shrimps and mussels, tucking into the rice.
  • Cover pan, lower heat and simmer, without stirring, for about 15 to 20 minutes or until rice is fluffy and cooked through.
  • Increase heat to high and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes or until a toasted rice crust (socarrat) forms at the bottom.
  • Take the rice off the heat and allow it to rest, covered, for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot.

Notes

  • Paella is traditionally cooked in a paellera. If you don’t have one, use a pan that’s wide but not too deep to allow moisture to evaporate quickly. Make sure it’s large enough to allow space for the rice to expand.
  • Other than a quick stir to coat the rice with the sauce, refrain from stirring and leave the paella covered and undisturbed as it cooks. If it is cooking more on one side than the other, just rotate the pan.
  • After you take the rice off the heat, allow it to rest, covered, for about 10 minutes before serving to absorb excess moisture.