Seafood Paella with Shrimp & Shellfish

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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

  • 6 oz. shrimp, peeled (reserve the shells for broth) and patted dry
  • 1 small bottle clam juice
  • Pinch saffron threads
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 oz. dry scallops, patted dry
  • 4 oz. calamari, cut in rings (optional), patted dry
  • 1/2 onion, grated on the largest holes of a box grater
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tomato, halved and grated on a box grater (discard the skin)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pimenton
  • 1 1/2 cups medium grain rice
  • 8 small clams or mussels (or both), scrubbed
  • 2 lemons, cut in wedges

Make a seafood broth:

In a medium saucepan, bring 4 1/2 cups of salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp shells and clam juice and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes. Strain the broth, and return it to the saucepan. Toast the saffron gently in a dry skillet or toaster oven (just until aromatic, 1 to 2 minutes; don't let them burn). Crumble the threads in a mortar or between your fingers, and add to the broth. Taste for salt; it should be well-seasoned. Let sit off the heat.

Sauté the seafood:

In a 16-inch paella pan, heat the oil just until it's hot. Sauté the shrimp, scallops, and calamari (if using) until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Make the sofrito:

Reduce the heat to medium and sauté the onion and garlic until the onion softens, about 5 min. Add the tomato and pimenton, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until the mixture has darkened to a deep burgundy and is thick like a compote, 15 to 20 min. If it starts to stick to the pan or burn, add a little water.

Add the rice and cook:

Bring the broth back to a simmer. Add the rice to the pan with the sofrito, and cook for 1 to 2 min. Raise the heat to medium-high. Pour in 4 1/2 cups of the broth (reserve the rest) and stir or shake the pan to evenly distribute the rice. Arrange the clams (if using) in the pan, submerging them as much as possible below the level of the liquid. From this point on, do not stir the rice.

Simmer vigorously, moving the pan over one and two burners to distribute the heat and to cook the rice as evenly as possible. When the rice is at the same level as the liquid, after 8 to 10 min., reduce the heat to medium low. Arrange the mussels in the pan.

Continue to simmer more gently, rotating the pan as necessary, until the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 min. 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.) Arrange the shrimp, scallops, and calamari in the pan, and add any juices to the rice.

Create the socarrat:

Increase the heat to medium-high and, rotating the pan, cook for about 2 min., 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.


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.