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Rarely do you come across a dish whose visual is as powerful and impressive as the mighty paella. Oftentimes served in a large, wobbly pan, the sight and smell alone of this Spanish treat is always one to behold. Colorful, bold and overflowing with ingredients, every bite of paella is a delight brimming with so many different textures and flavors. Paella is one of those dishes that comes with a wide assortment of ingredients, yet they all manage to merge together in a meal so satisfying it’s hard to resist. And when you’re making seafood paella in particular? You’ll never want your seafood another way ever again!
Today we’ll be learning how to make this easy seafood paella. No need to take out any special pan for this one; just the one you have at home will be enough to make this Spanish classic. Read on before you dig in!
Imagine your classic fried rice but with more spices, herbs, and — you guessed it — seafood. That’s exactly what seafood paella is and more! This dish originated in the Valencian region of Spain. Valencians often refer to paella as one of their identifying symbols — but those who are less familiar with the country’s particular geography regard it to be the national dish of Spain as a whole! This is unsurprising, of course; paella takes the crown for being the most well known dish in all of Spanish cuisine!
The word paella itself comes from the Valencian word for frying pan. This, too, is to be expected; a frying pan is what you cook paella in after all! Traditionally, though, the frying pan we use for paella is a large one, made from polished or coated steel with two side handles to carry it. These pans, being large and wide in nature, can carry all the different ingredients paella has to offer. You usually serve the dish in the same pan as well — piping hot and ready to be devoured!
Another potential etymology of paella would be from the Arabic word bagaayya, meaning leftovers. The claim finds support in the 8th century custom of kings’ servants bringing home rice, chicken, and vegetables their employers left at the end of the meal. This hodgepodge of elements is also a great indicator of what seafood paella is like: a marriage of different gifts from both land and sea, combining to create one unstoppable dish!
Seafood paella is one of the most popular versions of this timeless meal. But there are so many other variants of paella available for any kind of eater! The original, traditional version, paella valenciana, consists of rice, green beans, and other meat: think rabbit, beef, pork, and lamb! Later on after combining these ingredients, chefs would cook the same in a pairing of olive oil and broth, whether it be chicken, seafood, or beef. The bright and startling yellow hues of this dish stem from its inclusion of saffron. Meaty and filling, it’s no wonder paella won the hearts of the Valencian region — and soon, the whole country and world!
Meanwhile paella de marisco, or seafood paella, also saw a rice (pun intended!) in popularity. Instead of the heavier meats, paella de marisco makes use of lighter options: seafood! Shrimp, squid, mussels, and sometimes even fish take the place of beef or pork in this yummy rendition. If you’re willing to be a bit more experimental, you can do as many have done before you and make arros negre, consisting of rice and squid — and lots of squid ink! It’s this squid ink that gives your dish a much darker shade, especially when you compare it to other versions of paella that are light and colorful.
With a history as rich and as deep as its flavor, seafood paella has been around for a long time. And given how much people love it, it’s sure to be around for even longer!
What does seafood paella taste like?
If you’re a seafood lover, this seafood paella really might just send you to foodie paradise and back. Take one spoonful of this dish (and be careful to blow; it’ll surely be hot!), and immediately you’ll be met with the best flavors the sea has to offer. Note the subtle sweetness of your shrimp; the chewiness of your squid; and the distinct umami flavor of your mussels. These combine stunningly with your other vegetables: subtle green peas, summery and flavorful red bell peppers, and of course, the vibrant tomato. And when you have spices like saffron and smoked paprika as well? Talk about a flavor explosion! Each bite will leave you discovering something new to love about this hands down wonderful dish.
But the seafood is only part of what makes seafood paella a standout dish. Another star of the show has got to be the rice that you cook in the same pan! Indeed, this grain may taste mild at first, but cooking it with your other ingredients long enough leaves it to soak up all these other flavors! Even just the rice on its own is enough to make such a satisfying and tasty dish. And when it’s cooked long enough, and the edges of the pan have charred it? You get the crispy, crunchy bits of rice you’ll have to fight everyone else for! It’s arguably the best part of seafood paella — and paella in general — and you surely won’t want to miss out!
Ingredients in seafood Paella
Seafood paella, like we’ve mentioned, consists of a myriad of ingredients! All of these are essential to the overall enjoyable and yummy dish you experience with every bite. Here are a few of the essentials.
- Shrimp. Arguably one of the stars of the show, shrimp is the all-around seafood everyone can’t help but love! Your seafood paella just wouldn’t be complete without it! Make sure to clean it well before incorporating it into your dish. Whether you keep the skin on or off is up to you, but I personally enjoy it with the skin; it’s more flavorful that way later on! We also use one Knorr shrimp cube in this seafood paella recipe to further deepen that tastiness!
- Squid rings. These rings are good for more than just calamari! The chewiness of your squid adds a layer of texture to your already dynamic dish. Plus, it easily absorbs all the other herbs and spices you’ll be adding to make your seafood paella even tastier. Every ring is a delightful and pleasant surprise!
- Mussels. Mussels aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but in this seafood paella they’re just too good to pass up on! It’s beyond satisfying taking a bite of this savory, salty seafood, especially when you combine it with the other ingredients in your paella. If mussels aren’t available, clams, a smaller shellfish, would be your next best bet!
- Paella rice. The most commonly used rice in paella is bomba, which is a shot-grain rice that manages to both keep liquid absorbed and stay firm. Your grains section at your local stores will probably have products specifically labeled “paella rice” that you can opt to purchase. But don’t worry if you’re in a bind; normal rice will do the trick! Just note that the texture and flavor of your dish may end up slightly different. Regardless, it’ll still be enjoyable!
- Saffron. Have you ever wondered what gives your seafood paella that brightness? We mentioned earlier that it all has to do with one particular ingredient: saffron! This spice is sweet and floral upon first bite; it’s got a complexity that pairs wonderfully with the rest of your paella’s ingredients without overpowering other flavors! Beyond just tasting good and contributing in a large, colorful way, saffron is also full of nutrients that make every serving of seafood paella even healthier.
And yes, the dish is called seafood paella—but it would be nothing without these other tasty components that make this dish an absolute stunner!
- Green peas. Though these often tend to polarize eaters, make no mistake — adding green peas to your seafood paella will be the best decision to make! This compact vegetable carries with it both a sweet and savory side, that just about completes your seafood paella. It’s a great source of vitamins C and E, too, as well as other nutrients that will help strengthen your immune system!
- Red bell peppers. With a strong, distinct taste, red bell pepper is one of those ingredients that truly makes itself known. But just like saffron, instead of overpowering other ingredients, it manages to complement them gorgeously! Red bell peppers add another layer of color to your already eye-catching dish, making it feel even more like a fiesta!
- Tomatoes. Small slices of this fruit (or is it a vegetable?) make all the difference! It adds a bit of sweetness and cuts through the richness of all the other elements of a perfect seafood paella — maintaining the harmony of flavors we all know and love.
Add your paprika, onion, and garlic, too, and you can now make your seafood paella! Read on to see just how easy making this seafood paella can be. It won’t be long before you can start enjoying it!
How to Make Seafood Paella
The first step in your seafood paella is to cook your seafood.
This begins with heating oil and pan frying your shrimp until both sides turn orange. Then, in a separate pan, fry your squid rings separately for about thirty seconds. Further, you’ll need another pan to pan fry the mussels for about 1 minute. When all of your seafood has been cooked and you’re satisfied with the same, set them aside.
Afterwards, you can start cooking the rice itself in a pan!
Start by sautéing your garlic and onion pieces. Add your Knorr Shrimp cube, paprika, and paella rice. Then, sauté this for about a minute before pouring in 3 ½ cups of water. Bring your mixture to a boil. Once it’s bubbling, you can add your other components: tomatoes, green peas, parsley, and saffron. Season your dish with salt and ground black pepper, and stir, making sure to blend all the ingredients nicely. Cover your dish with a lid and cook until your rice is done.
The aroma of your rice, with the Shrimp cube, paprika, and other veggies will be one that’s hard to resist! Check on your rice and see if it’s finished. Once it has, you can now top it with your red bell pepper slices, as well as the seafood you cooked prior. Cook it for the last two minutes — and voila! Just like that, your seafood paella is done! Easy peasy, right?
Serve your paella in a pan (the traditional way!) and add a couple of lemon wedges when you do. These lemon wedges and their citrusy taste will cut through the savory and salty flavors of your paella. Call your loved ones over, and share and enjoy this marvelous display of the flavors of the sea!
What to Serve with Seafood Paella
On its own, seafood paella is already quite a filling dish, and you don’t often need other main courses to go with it. But if you’re looking for some additional sides, here are a few that might just hit the spot!
You’ll want to pair your seafood paella with something on the lighter side. In that case, I recommend a nice and easy salad. And you can never go wrong with a good caesar salad! With garlic croutons, cheese, and garlic, this dish is both flavorful but also very kind to the stomach. It leaves you satisfied with its taste, but also leaves your stomach with enough room to enjoy the paella you eat alongside it.
One other dish that I would recommend would be these baked parmesan potatoes! Much like the Spanish patatas bravas, these potatoes are a nice snack, almost but not quite french fries, that come with a full burst of flavor with every bite. I enjoy these baked parmesan potatoes on their own, but eating them alongside your seafood paella? You’re in for a hearty, scrumptious meal!
And speaking of potatoes, you also can’t go wrong with these potato croquettes! This dish combines two things people almost always love: mashed potatoes, and deep fried food. Croquettes will complement the flavor of your seafood paella perfectly. (And even if you don’t have seafood paella on hand, they sure do make a great snack!)
But if it’s a dessert you’re after, cap off a doubtlessly good meal with the sweet, decadent leche flan! This caramelly custard leaves little to be desired, and is the perfect dessert to pair with a cup of black coffee after a filling meal.
Did you enjoy this stunning seafood paella? Let us know what you thought in the comments below!
- 1 lb. shrimp cleaned
- 3 ounces squid rings
- 1 lb. mussels
- 1 Knorr Shrimp cube
- 2 cups paella rice
- 1 cup green peas
- 1 ½ teaspoons saffron
- 2 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 red bell pepper sliced
- 1 tomato diced
- 1 onion minced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons parsley minced
- 3 ½ cups water
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 1 paella pan
- Heat oil. Pan-fry shrimp until both sides turn orange. Also, fry the squid rings separately for around 30 seconds. Separately pan-fry the mussels for 1 minute. Set aside.
- Sauté garlic and onion.
- Add Knorr Shrimp cube, paprika, and paella rice. Continue sautéing for 1 minute.
- Pour-in the water and let it boil. Add tomato, green peas, parsley, and saffron. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Stir. Cover and cook until the rice is done.
- Top with red bell pepper and seafood. Cover and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
- Serve with lemon wedges. Share and enjoy!