seafood paella : what else do you need me to say?

I don’t think this dish needs much introduction, and although the original paella recipe did probably not feature any ocean goodies, seafood paella is an international success that has become the most popular of any version of paella and when people order Paella outside of Spain, most expect a seafood paella or a variation of it. A culinary tradition from Valencia, Spain, its preparation is simple,  a little time consuming if anything. Again, use the best ingredients possible. Saffron and Pimenton will give you that unique paella flavor that is hard to describe… basically, the taste of Spain! So, let’s go over how to make this great dish.

We can break down the making of seafood paella into 5 steps:

1. Stock preparation

2. Protein par-cooking

3. Sofrito

4. Rice cooking

5. Final cooking of protein and rice together.

Bomba rice is the traditional rice for making paella, this short grain rice has the ability to absorb quite a bit of water, about 3 cups of water per cup of rice, so keep that in mind. I’ve used other varieties of rice, anything goes as long as you aren’t too picky about it, so if you can’t find bomba rice, any rice would work unless you’re a rice snob, hope not, lots of food shortage out there these days to be a snob about food and ingredients, let’s keep it real. That being said, short grain rice which is starchier, would do a good job.


Preparation time: 1 hr – 1hr 1/2
Serves 2


Cutting board and knife
Few bowls for prepping ingredients
Paella pan or stainless steel sauté pan
Medium Sauce pan to render stock
Wooden spatula
Fish turner for the scallops, or something similar
Paper towels


8 scallops
8 shrimps shells on
8 mussels
8 squids tentacles included!
150ml clam juice or fish stock
1 medium shallot minced (optional, traditional paella doesn’t call for it)
4 cloves of garlic minced
150ml tomato sauce (san marzano)
100g canned sweet peas
10-15 saffron strands (steeping in a tbsp of hot water)
2 tsp pimenton (sweet paprika)
1 cup bomba rice
3 cups of water
dry vermouth for deglazing
extra virgin olive oil (EVO)
parsley to garnish
lemon wedges
a splash of white wine vinegar to balance acidity if needed


Stock preparation:

01: shell and devein shrimp, preserve shells
02: set shrimp aside on a paper towel, pat dry
03: sauté shrimp shells with a but of EVO in high heat until red
04: in sauce pan, sweat 1/3 of the shallots with a bit of EVO
05: add shells to the saucepan, add, clam juice, reduce 1/2
06: strain stock and reserve, discard shells

Protein par-cooking:

01: heat up olive oil in sauté pan, don’t let it smoke
02: sauté shrimp until almost cooked, toss, add some salt, 3 minutes
03: deglaze pan with a little vermouth, no need to flambé but it’s cool if you do
04: reserve protein and pan juices

Repeat this process for the squid and the scallops. Scallops will require an extra minute, you want a nice caramelized finish. The mussels will be steamed in the last minutes of the rice cooking step, just make sure they’re clean, no beards.

Regarding squid, if your fishmonger didn’t clean them, you’ll have to do that yourself and I would recommend a little google research here otherwise, cut up body into rings and use the legs as they are. Some large varieties of squid might need extra cleaning, the legs have those hard sucker disks that need scraping off, so grab your paring knife and get to work. There are plenty of youtube videos showing how to prep squid so don’t be discouraged by this task!


01: add some EVO on sauté pan, sweat reminder of shallots for 3 minutes
02: add garlic, dont let it go brown, 1 minute
03: add tomato sauce and cook until deep red, about 6 minutes
04: add pimenton and saffron, cook for a few minutes

Rice Cooking:

01: add rice, and cook in sofrito for about 5 minutes
02: add water and let cook, stirring occasionally to prevent bottom from sticking to early. ~ 10-15 mins
03: you do want some crust formation at the bottom, but shouldn’t be burnt (see soccarat)
04: the rice should be almost cooked to al dente, we’ll finish cooking it in the next step.

Final cooking of protein in rice

01: toss in mussels over rice, cover pan, cooking until they open, 4 minutes
02: add rest of the seafood, it will finish cooking, cover pan again
03: add sweet peas, take pan off the heat
04: let rest and serve with some finely chopped parsley
05: finish with some lemon juice or serve wedges on the side

hope this helped, enjoy your new paella endeavors!

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  1. Having personally tasted this, can vouch that it is amazing!!! Wish I could follow those steps myself!!!

  2. Who doesn’t love paella? This is a very good recipe and post, Paul, teaching us all how to make this classic dish. It’s not an easy dish to prepare but so very worth the effort. Thank you for taking the time to put this post together. I’ve pinned it for future reference. 🙂

    1. Coming from you John it means a lot, I really respect your food and your writing. There is a NY times video that got me cooking paella for the first times a few years ago, since I’ve tried a few different variations.

      Disregard the comment on risotto hahah, I love risotto, spaniards can be extremely arrogant and territorial about food, I can say that, I’m spanish 😉

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