This Seafood Paella recipe is packed with delicious flavors. It might not be entirely traditional but it’s a guaranteed showstopper.
What is Paella?
Paella is a Spanish rice dish, originating in Valencia, Spain. This flavorful dish is most often made with chicken thighs but can be made with rabbit, chorizo and/or seafood with vegetables like peppers, green beans, onions and garlic.
You can use any variety of seafood for this recipe but I love using shrimp, mussels and calamari/squid. Clams, crab, lobster tails etc will also be delicious. I use onion, fresh garlic cloves, Spanish smoked paprika and tomatoes to flavor the rice.
- Prawns/Shrimp. If using frozen, thaw before cooking then peel and devein.
- Mussels. I used half-shell mussels. If using fresh mussels, tap gently on the kitchen counter. If they close, they are fresh, if they don’t, discard them. Similarly, if the mussels don’t open once cooked, discard them.
- Calamari. I used calamari tubes but squid tentacles or calamari rings will also work.
- Other seafood options: Clams and chunks of white fish will also work.
- Paella Rice. I used Arborio rice but Spanish Bomba is more traditional. Any short-grain rice will work.
- Fresh garlic cloves.
- Smoked paprika. I used paprika both for color and flavor but you could add a pinch of saffron threads too if you wish.
- Chopped tomatoes. You could use other vegetables like red pepper and peas too.
- Chicken broth/Fish stock. Seafood broth can also be used.
- Salt and black pepper.
- Lemon wedges.
How to make Seafood Paella
- Prepare the seafood: Peel and devein the prawns/shrimp then pat the shrimp and calamari dry with paper towels. Place a large, deep pan or skillet (a paella pan is ideal) approximately 11-12inches/30cm in diameter over medium high heat. Drizzle the calamari and shrimp with olive oil and season with salt then sear in the hot pan until a little color develops but the seafood isn’t cooked fully yet. It’s important to dry the seafood well as this will help them brown in the hot pan. This step is also optional but I prefer searing the seafood first to ensure they don’t release too much moisture into the paella. Remove the seafood from the pan and set aside.
- Start the Paella: In the same pan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent and fragrant. Pour in the tomatoes and boil for a few minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the rice and smoked paprika and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook: Pour in the stock then reduce the heat, partially cover and allow to simmer for 7 minute or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is almost cooked. Add the squid, calamari and shrimp, tucking it into the rice. Try not to disturb the bottom of the rice which should be forming a nice crust as it cooks. Cover again then cook for another 5-7 minutes until the seafood and rice are fully cooked.
- Serve: Season to taste and garnish with lemon wedges and chopped parsley.
Can I make this in advance?
Although best enjoyed right after cooking (the seafood can become tough if cooked too far in advance), any leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a large skillet or pan over medium heat with a splash of stock/broth until hot throughout.
What to serve with Spanish paella
Although perfect on its own, a side salad or some crusty bread is always a nice side dish for paella.
- 500 g (1lb) prawns / shrimp peeled and deveined
- 250 g (½lb) calamari
- 250 g (½lb) half-shell mussels
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves crushed
- 400 g (14oz) chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 cups shortgrain rice (Arborio, Bomba)
- 4 cups chicken / fish stock
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- lemon wedges for serving
- chopped parsley for serving
- Peel and devein the prawns/shrimp then pat the shrimp and calamari dry with paper towels.
- Place a large, deep pan (approximately 11-12inches/30cm) over high heat. Drizzle the calamari and shrimp with olive oil and season with salt then sear in the hot pan until a little color develops but the seafood isn't cooked fully yet.
- Remove the seafood from the pan and set aside.
- In the same pan, add olive oil and cook the onion and garlic until translucent and fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Pour in the rice and smoked paprika and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour in the stock then reduce the heat, partially cover and allow to simmer for 7-10 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is almost cooked.
- Tuck in the seafood, trying not to disturb the bottom layer of rice. Cover again then cook for another 5-7 minutes until the seafood and rice are fully cooked.
- Season to taste and serve with lemon wedges and chopped parsley.
Hi Alida can you make seafood paella with seafood mix too
You could, yes.
Can I use cooked mussels and pasta in stead ofor rice
You could, yes.
I’m going to cook for the first time. I was in Spain with my family and I fell in love with this dish. I will make your recipe and will definitely post it. It should turn out how appetizing it looks for you 🙂
Hope you love it!
When do you add the mussels ? I’m using closed shell
In step 8, when you add the rest of the seafood. The mussels should open within 5-8 minutes.
This was so yummy OMG!!!
You forgot possibly the most essential element of this type of paella: saffron, its signature spice!
Since this isn’t a traditional recipe, I decided to omit the saffron. It’s an expensive ingredient not always accessible. But if you like saffron, feel free to include it.
When do I add saffron
This recipe doesn’t contain saffron – but you could add it to the stock to infuse before pouring into the rice.