Paella has always been one of those dishes that I've been hesitant to make. Any time that I order it from a restaurant, they warn me of the 45 minute cook time, and I lose the illusion that I could possibly make it at home.
Last week as I was grabbing some produce from Reading Terminal Market (oh how I'll miss that place when I move to NYC), I passed the seafood counter and saw all of this wonderful seafood and the thought struck me, I'm finally going to make paella! So I grabbed some beautiful baby octopi, shrimp, calamari, and bay scallops as my seafood base.
Then I stopped by Iovine's for lemons, a red bell pepper, a big tomato, parsley, spanish onion and garlic which I would use as the vegetable base.
When I got home, I started prepping all of my ingredients and watched a Tyler Florence video on how to make paella (he's my go-to whenever I need instructions on a complicated dish).
So I started with an intense prep- as you can see with my meticulously chopped vegetables and seasoned seafood. Then I made the soffrito with the onion, garlic, paprika, parsley, tomatoes, and red pepper- easy enough. Then I added the rice and toasted it for a couple of minutes before adding the water. The idea of not being able to stir the rice was probably the hardest concept to get over, but the idea that you were supposed to crisp the rice on the bottom relieved me of my fear of burning the entire dish. Then I tucked the seafood into the rice in the order of cook-time that was needed for each.
Overall, this dish was actually a joy to make and intensely delicious! This easy seafood paella just might take the place of risotto at the top of the list of my favorite foods to cook.
Yield: 4 Servings
1 lb mix of seafood (shrimp, scallops, calamari, octopus)
1 spanish onion
2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 red bell pepper
1 large tomato
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup jasmine rice
2 cups water
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Start by prepping your seafood (removing shells, slicing the calamari into rings, etc.) Also, finely dice your onion, garlic, red pepper and tomato.
In a large pan over medium heat, place your olive oil. Now add the onion and garlic to the oil and allow it to cook for a couple of minutes before adding the diced tomatoes, red pepper, 2 tablespoons of the chopped parsley and 1 teaspoon of the paprika. This mixture will continue to cook for another 8 minutes.
Next, stir the rice into your vegetable mixture, along with the last teaspoon of paprika and the teaspoon of kosher salt; allow this to toast for a couple of minutes while stirring it. Now add the water, being conscious of the fact that it will take the rice about fifteen minutes to cook and also of the fact that you can not stir the rice. After about five minutes have passed, begin adding your seafood- shrimp and octopus first, gently tuck them into the rice. After another few minutes, add the scallops and the calamari, again gently tucking them into the rice.
Once the rice looks cooked (about 15 minutes in) turn the heat up to high for 1 minute to toast the rice on the bottom. Finally, turn off the heat and garnish the top of the paella with the remaining tablespoon of parsley as well as the lemon wedges. Enjoy!