Seafood Paella

8 Aug

So I hit a bit of a bloggers block. Somewhere between work, wedding, and…oh geeze I wish I had another word that starts with w…. I’m going to blame the heat wave – if you live in Toronto, or anywhere in central Canada or the U.S. you know what I’m talking about. Thankfully our home (that was built in 1888) has central air. Clearly I am living super authentically in my victorian home.

Anyways I am back with a mighty fine seafood dish. Seafood Paella to be exact. A year ago we took a trip to Spain. Specifically France, with a brief pass through of Spain, but more on that later. For now we’re talking about Spain. In Spain one evening we had dinner outdoors with some wonderful friends and we had paella.

We are having a nice summer here in Ontario, but it’s no Spain. So the other night we had our friends we were in Spain with over for an outdoor Spanish dining fiesta! OLE! (I don’t speak Spanish, can you tell?). We got spanish beer, they brought spanish wine, we started with smoked paprika shrimp (b/c if it’s got paprika on it then it’s Spanish right?), and we had this seafood paella.  I highly recommend you do the same. STAT!

Feel free to change any of the seafood, or add something that’s your favourite that I didn’t put in. I often leave out the mussels or the scallops, but I’m trying to give you guys the gold standard here (I hope this makes up for my absence).

Seafood Paella

Serves 4 to 6


1 cup arborio rice

4 cups of seafood stock (recipe follows at the bottom – or buy seafood stock)

1 cup dry white wine (this is for going in the food, not your wine glass. Just a little hint for all you lushes out there – although I would be the best recipe creator EVER if I actually said you need a cup of wine in your glass for sipping while cooking to make the recipe work….I think I am onto something)

1 onion, diced

1/2 bulb of fennel, sliced

1 tbsp smoked paprika

a pinch of saffron threads soaked in 1 tablespoon of warm water

1 lb large shrimp (peeled – i usually leave the tails on b/c it looks nicer, but you could be more considerate and forgo aesthetics for your guests convenience of not having to pull off the tails. To each their own. I prefer to make people work harder if it looks nicer when I serve. I’m a bit of an asshole apparently). ***Save the shrimp shells if you are making the seafood stock from scratch.

1/2 lb of calamari (do not use the breaded kind that is served with cocktail sauce or I may personally come over and smack you. Get fresh or frozen straight-up calamari), sliced into rings with tentacles separated (I just mean don’t slice the tentacles, keep them intact, they look super cool when cooked)

1 lb mussels, rinsed

2 smoked chorizo sausages, sliced

1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup frozen green peas

lemon wedges and parsley for garnish

Sorry for the wordy ingredient list. I have missed you all dearly and just can’t stop rambling.

Toss the shrimp, calamari and scallops in some olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Heat a BBQ or a grill pan to medium-high heat and grill for a few minutes on each side until cooked through. Set aside on a plate and cover with foil.

Heat a large pan to medium-high heat. Pour in a glug (yup, real measurement….I’m so scientific) of olive oil and saute the onions and fennel for a few minutes until slightly softened. Add the arborio rice, paprika and saffron threads with water and continue to saute for about 2 minutes. Add the cup of wine and stir until the wine has been fully absorbed by the rice. Add the seafood stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring while it absorbs. Repeat when all the liquid has absorbed until you have used 3 cups of the stock (if chosing option 1) or 4 cups of stock if chosing option 2).

There are 2 ways of dealing with the mussels: (option 2 is fail-safe if you’re a first time mussel steamer)

Option 1: Place the mussels in the rice with the hinge (the part that will stay closed when they open) down and the top of the mussel (the part that opens) sticking straight up. Add in the remaining 1 cup of liquid, cover with a lid and allow to steam until the mussels open.

Option 2: You can get a large pot, pour in one cup of water with one cup of wine toss in the mussels, bring to a boil and cover and let steam until the mussels open. Then add them to the Paella at the very end just before serving.

Whatever you do, be sure to discard any mussels that do not open. They will make you very very sick.

Stir in the cherry tomatoes, peas, grilled seafood and chorizo. Combine and serve when all those delicious ingredients you just added are warmed through.

Serve with some lemon wedges on the side and sprinkle some parsley on top.

I recommend you consume this with copious amounts of sangria. It’s really just a suggestion though. I may not be the best influence when it comes to appropriate sangria consumption amounts.

Seafood Stock (this stock is all Ina Garten – that women is way too clever) – I use this stock in so many different dishes, it is so versatile and delicious!

makes 4 cups


the shells of 1 lb of large shrimp

2 yellow onions, roughly chopped

2 carrots, roughly chopped

3 stalks fo celery, roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

6 cups of water

1/2 cup of dry white wine

1/3 cup tomato paste

1 tsp sea salt

10 grinds of black pepper

10 sprigs of fresh thyme.

Heat a stock pot to medium high heat and pour in a glug of olive oil. Toss in the shrimp shells, onion, carrot and celery and saute until slightly softened. Add the garlic and continue to saute for 2 minutes. Add the water, white wine, tomato paste, salt, pepper and thyme. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 1 hour. Strain through a sieve pressing the solids to get all the liquid. If you don’t have 4 cups of liquid simply make up the difference with water or wine (I would go with wine. Duh!)

This freezes beautifully. I often make it if I am making a shrimp dish. I hate throwing out perfectly good shrimp shells when I have this recipe in my repertoire!

There you have it. Spain at home. If you are thinking, um, Katie, you just made risotto, not paella, well I have two things to say 1) stop blocking my creativity, and 2) this is cabbagetown people, not Spain. I have made it the way you are supposed to in the past. This way is better. Go with it.

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