Paella is probably the most famous Spanish dish. There are different versions of paella, many of them containing meat such as chicken, rabbit and chorizo, as well as seafood. My version is seafood-only. Paella is traditionally made in a special paella pan, but I like to serve it on individual plates. Like many stock-based dishes, the taste of the paella depends on the quality of the stock. So it definitely pays off to make your own stock!
For 2 servings as a full meal
2/3 cups rice suitable for paella (risotto rice works fine)
1 1/2 cups shrimp stock (made from about 450 grams / 1 pound of shrimp heads and shells, see this recipe for the method; you could also make shrimp stock from just the heads and shells of the jumbo shrimp needed for the paella, and substitute the remaining stock with home-made fish stock)
2 onions, chopped
1 red pepper, cleaned and cut into cubes
150 grams (2/3 cup) frozen peas
8 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
500 grams (1 pound) mussels
100 grams (4 oz) squid, cleaned and cut into strips
pinch (0.1 grams) of saffron
1 glass (100 ml) dry white wine
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp double-concentrated tomato paste (or 2 Tbsp single-concentrated)
1 clove garlic
red pepper flakes
Marinate the shrimp with olive oil, red pepper flakes, minced garlic and salt to taste.
Rinse the mussels in cold water. Discard any mussels that remain open. Put 1 chopped onion and the white wine in a pot, add the mussels to pot. Cover with a lid and put on high heat until the mussels are open. Don’t cook longer than necessary, because that will make the mussels tough.
Drain the mussels and catch the liquid. Take the mussels out of the shells, reserving 12-16 nice-looking mussels for decoration.
Filter the mussel liquid using a paper towel.
Heat the oil in a frying pan. Sauté the remaining onion with the red pepper until the onion is translucent.
Add the rice and the squid and sauté for a minute until the rice has been covered with oil and the squid has turned white.
Stir in the tomato paste.
Add the peas, 1/2 cup of the mussel liquid and 1 1/2 cups of shrimp broth. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle boil.
Cook for 15 minutes, uncovered, stirring now and then. Stir in the saffron a few minutes before the end of the cooking time.
Add the end of the cooking time most of the liquid should be absorbed. Increase the heat a bit towards the end if needed.
Stir in the mussels that you had taken out of the shell.
Preheat the oven to 225C/425F.
Arrange the paella on single oven-proof plates with the jumbo shrimp on top and the mussels in the shell on the side. Bake for 10-15 minutes in the oven until the shrimp are barely cooked.
Serve with a lemon wedge.
This obviously calls for a Spanish white such as albariño or rueda.