Seafood Paella is an easy, delicious and flavorful seafood recipe that you can make at home. With fresh shellfish, mussels, and other seafood this meal is packed with flavor!
I used to stray away from difficult or time consuming recipes, but now I enjoy them. I think I just appreciate the different steps required in a recipe and the time it takes to make food right. And although I hate clean-up, I don’t have a problem getting out different pots and pans in order to get something just right.
Seafood is a great alternative to beef and chicken, and is just as versatile. This seafood paella recipe takes some extra time to make, but the finished dish is worth it!
What is Paella?
“Paella comes from the countryside around Valencia, where it began as a humble dish for workers in the orchards and vegetable fields. They simmered what ingredients they could find—tomatoes, beans, rabbit, snails—in a wide pan over the cuttings of orange trees before adding rice to absorb the flavors and make a filling midday meal. From there, paella drifted into villages and then cities and eventually became Spain’s national dish.
Paella is at its best cooked at home, made with traditional, shortcut-free technique and served the moment it’s ready to an appreciative crowd. Nothing in Spanish cooking compares to carrying a massive pan of golden-brown rice out to the table, or the pleasures of digging into one. And while paella has a lot of details to sweat and rules to follow, the most important is simple: There is no such thing as a version for just one person. As one aunt in the family village in rural Valencia says, “Paella is really just an excuse to gather people.” Source: Saveur.com
Paella can be made using a variety of meat, poultry, or seafood. I love this Paella Valenciana, made using chicken, and adapted a lot of his cooking tips and techniques. I highly recommend watching this YouTube video.
I do also highly recommend using a paella pan if you have one. Initially, I would use a cast iron skillet or other low, wide pan but you really do need a paella pan for this recipe and now you can purchase one from just about anywhere. The more you practice making paella, the easier it will be to make!
The one thing I will stress is purchasing quality ingredients (saffron and paella rice) and seafood. Spend the money and get some great, quality seafood. Fresh or frozen. It doesn’t matter. It makes all the difference!
Seafood Paella Recipe Notes
This recipe requires some extra steps because I like to steam my mussels separately and then add them on top of the paella. It’s perfect for a family dinner or for entertaining. This is the most requested dish that I make and bring to parties and potluck dinners!
I hope you give this Seafood Paella recipe a try – it is incredible!
- A paella pan is recommended. You can purchase these from anywhere online.
For the paella:
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion peeled and finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced or finely chopped
- 1/2 to 1 lb. fresh squid cleaned, and sliced into rings
- 2 cups fresh tomato chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 3 to 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 pinch saffron threads*
- 2 cups Spanish paella rice**
- 4 to 5 cups chicken stock or seafood stock
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 12 oz fresh shrimp peeled and deveined; tails on or off
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes cut in half crosswise
- fresh parsley finely diced for garnish
- 1 lemon cut into wedges
For the mussels:
- 1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 to 2 shallots minced
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ pound mussels scrubbed and de-bearded (about 12)
- 1 cup chicken of seafood stock
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or ½ cup water
For the paella:
- Using your paella pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the onions and sauté until softened, for about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant, for about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add in the squid and toss and cook in the pan with the onions and garlic for about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes only. Squid cooks very fast. Anything too long and it will become too rubbery. Two minutes over high heat is plenty. Next, remove all the squid from the pan and onto a plate. You will add back into the pan at the end. Cooking it at the beginning adds a little flavor to the onions and oil.
- Add in the tomatoes and tomato paste, mix together and season with some salt and pepper. (For the saffron: get a 1/2 cup of water and add in the saffron. This helps to loosen the saffron when it enters the paella and will help it spread better throughout the paella to give it better color.) Add in the smoked paprika into the pan and pour the saffron water all over, mixing well, and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes. While that is cooking, using a separate small saucepan, bring the chicken stock and wine to a low simmer. Alternatively, you can add directly into the pan but simmering separately first and then adding is preferred.
- Next, add in the rice into the paella pan and stir well until all of the grains are coated with the tomato sauce mixture and the rice is evenly distributed around the pan. Gently add the simmering stock and white wine mixture to the pan evenly over the rice. Turn up the heat to medium high and bring to a light boil, and season with more salt.
- Once it starts boiling, turn the heat down to low and let the rice simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. If it looks like you need more liquid to help your rice cook, you can add just a little more chicken stock to the rice, half way through cooking. If you do this, pour evenly over the rice and then make sure the rice is still evenly distributed over the skillet.
- As your paella is cooking, remember to keep mixing around the pan (from the outside in) so it doesn't stick to the bottom as much. A little sticking is ok (and some people really enjoy the really cooked bits stuck to the bottom) but you just don't want it to burn. While the rice is cooking, prepare the mussels.
For the mussels:
- Using a large sized saucepan or small pot, warm the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat, waiting until the butter has melted. Add in the minced shallots and garlic and sauté until the shallots are translucent and the garlic is fragrant, for about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the mussels into the saucepan and pour in the chicken stock and wine or water. Immediately cover the pan with the lid for about 5 minutes. After about 5 minutes, lift the lid and check the mussels. Nearly all of the mussels should be open by now. If not, cover and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes. You can mix the mussels around in the saucepan to get the sauce nicely distributed over them. Discard any mussels that haven’t opened after this time. Do not consume any mussels that have not opened.
- Just before the rice is almost finished cooking, arrange the raw shrimp and tomatoes evenly over the rice and let cook. After the shrimp start to turn pink, flip them over and cook the other side. You want to cook the shrimp until they are just pink. Do not overcook. Add the cooked squid back into the pan. Mix, taste everything and season with more salt if needed.
- Arrange the open mussels on top of the seafood paella, drizzle with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over the top of the paella if desired, garnish the parsley and serve with the lemon wedges. Enjoy immediately.
A Note For The Cook
We just made this paella again last night and added some fresh scallops as well. Feel free to add the seafood you want. If you realize at the end that you need more liquid to continue cooking the rice, add in the liquid from the mussels.
For the shrimp, you need to purchase raw shrimp. Don’t buy the shrimp that is pink, that has already been cooked and is generally there to purchase for shrimp cocktail. When purchasing mussels, most grocery stores do all the cleaning and debearding for you. However, if you need to do it yourself, click here for a great resource for how to clean and debeard mussels.