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Seafood Paella (Video Version)

This recipe serves four and works well in a 14 inch to 16 inch pan. To make a paella with more servings in a larger pan, scale up the ingredients proportionately by using our recipe sizing guide.

This is a fairly quick paella with minimal pre-cooking. It will take about 30 minutes to prepare and 20 to 30 minutes to cook.

Serves Four

  • 1 large tomato (or 2 medium)
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 lbs mussels, scrubbed (use as base for seafood broth)
  • Pinch saffron threads (about 20 threads)
  • 8 oz. bottle clam juice
  • 1 1/4 cups Bomba rice
  • 16 to 18 cockles, or any small clams
  • 12 to 16 shrimp, peeled and patted dry
  • 2 to 3 lemons, cut in wedges

Cooking Tools

  • 14-inch paella pan
  • Large pot with lid for broth
  • Box grater
  • Mortar and pestle (can use mug and spoon as substitute)
  • Paella lid or aluminum foil
  • Large bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Spatula

Make the sofrito:

Cut the tomato in half and grate both tomato halves using the box grater onto a plate. The grated tomato should produce a nice puree. Discard tomato skin. Do the same with the onion (cut in half and grate both halves onto a plate). Set the paella pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion, and pinch of salt and sauté the onion until it softens, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato puree, season with salt, and cook, stirring often. Add the garlic cloves and continue cooking until the mixture has darkened to a deep burgundy and is thick like a compote. This process takes at least 15 to 20 minutes, but it can cook for up to 45 minutes or more if you want. The longer you cook, the deeper and sweeter the flavor. When the sofrito starts to stick to the pan or brown, add a little water to deglaze the pan, lower the heat a bit, and keep cooking. (You can make the sofrito ahead and refrigerate for several days, or freeze for a few months.)

Make the seafood broth:

In a stockpot, bring 6 cups of salted water to a boil. Set aside about 10 small mussels from the bunch to put in the paella. Add the remaining mussels to the pot, cover, and simmer until the mussels open, 5 to 10 minutes. While the mussels are boiling, wrap saffron threads in a square of aluminum foil and set it on the pot lid just long enough to heat the saffron, about 2 minutes. Take the toasted saffron and place in a mortar. Pulverize the saffron with pestle. Once the mussels open, pour the broth through a colander set inside a large bowl. Discard the mussels. Measure about 1 cup of broth into the mortar containing the pulverized saffron. Stir the saffron broth. Let the saffron steep for 15 to 20 minutes to let the saffron flavor infuse the liquid. Pour the rest of the broth (about 4 to 5 cups) from the large bowl into the pot and set aside. After 15 to 20 minutes, pour the saffron broth back into the mussel broth. Add the clam juice to the pot. Bring back to a gentle simmer, season with salt to taste (it should taste like a well-seasoned soup broth).

Add the rice and seafood:

Heat the paella pan over medium with the sofrito. Add the rice, and cook, stirring the rice, until the rice is translucent, about 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high. Add 3 ¾ cups of the broth to the pan (reserve the remaining broth). Bring to boil. Use a spatula to spread out the rice in the pan so it is evenly distributed (and give the pan a shake back and forth once or twice as well). Simmer vigorously but do not stir the rice once it comes to a boil. When the rice is at the same level as the liquid, after 8 to 10 minutes, reduce the heat to a more gentle simmer. Arrange the clams and reserved mussels in the pan, submerging them as much as possible below the level of the liquid. Continue to simmer about 10 minutes more. Taste a grain just below the top layer of rice; it should be al dente, with a tiny white dot in the center. (If the rice is not done but all the liquid has been absorbed, add a bit of broth and cook a few minutes more.) During the last two minutes of cooking, arrange the shrimp in the pan, along with any juices.

Create the socarrat:

Increase the heat to medium-high and, rotating the pan, cook for about 2 minutes, until the bottom layer of rice starts to caramelize, creating the socarrat. The rice will crackle, but if it starts to smell burned, remove the pan from the heat immediately.

Let the paella rest:

Remove the pan from the heat. Cover loosely with foil or a clean kitchen towel and let the paella rest for 5 min. to even the cooking and let the flavors meld.

Serve!

Set the paella pan in the center of a round or square table. Remove the foil and invite people to eat directly from the pan, starting at the perimeter, working toward the center, and squeezing lemon over their section, if they want.