Messy and delish Valencian Paella! -Did you know that ‘Paella’ actually means pan?

In the 18th century, Valencians used ‘paelleras’ to cook rice in the open under the large orchards near Lake Alburfera. Water vole, or more commonly known as ‘water rat’ was one of the main ingredients in paella alongside eel and buttered beans. (somehow it makes me cringe a little!)

Personally, I like to stick to either seafood or meat. Of course, to each their own though! The seafood and chorizo in this recipe can be substituted for almost anything but of course the main choices include, chicken, rabbit, snail and duck.

The reason I call this recipe ‘messy’ is because it is the quick and easy version to make and is equally as tasty. Paella experts spend a lot of time beautifying and decorating the rice with the shellfish and prawns so that they look extra pretty.

I first fell in love with Paella when I went on holiday to Valencia in the summer of 2009. Everyday was a new paella adventure. I’d go on the search for a new flavour, recipe and colour just so I wouldn’t miss out. The squid ink version is something everyone should have on their ‘must-trys’ when visiting. Sitting in the alfresco restos in a local Valencian town square, fruity sangria in hand whilst listening to the saxophonist play the night away is absolutely mind-blowing.

I love to use the actual ‘Paella Pan’ but if this is impossible to buy or get your hands on, a normal pan will do too!

Messy Seafood & Chorizo Paella (Serves 4-5)

  • 1 pack of aborio rice (bomba rice is preferable but difficult to find)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 litres fish stock
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 spanish onion, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red capsicum & 1 green capsicum, cut into strands (lengthways)
  • 2 tablespoons hot paprika
  • 2 tablespoons dried crushed chillies
  • 4 tablespoons saffron powder OR handful of saffron strands
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 calamari tube
  • 6 fresh king prawns
  • 500 grams mini shrimps
  • 500 grams black mussels
  • 1 chorizo, cut into small pieces

20130903_191246 20130903_191251 20130903_191259 20130903_191304

Step 1
Heat olive oil in a paella pan and add the onions, shallots and garlic. Stir for 2-3 minutes until soft.


Step 2
In a separate pot bring the fish stock to boil and add the saffron powder. Allow to mix and set aside.


Step 3
Add the rice to the pan and stir to evenly coat with the onion and shallots. Remember! This is not a risotto so do not stir vigorously, this will result in a creamy paella. Stir slowly and evenly. Keep the fire on low.

Step 4
Add the stock to the pan a ladleful at a time and continue to stir slowly. Allow to cook uncovered.

Step 5
In a separate pan and on high fire, add oil and garlic and stir in the seafood. Add chili flakes, hot paprika, salt and pepper and stir fry for 3 minutes.

Step 6
Allow 20-30 cooking time for the rice. When the rice starts to soften, add the capsicum strands, seafood and chorizo pieces to the mixture. At this point, you may decorate the paella pan with the seafood and capsicums in whichever way you think looks best. Allow to cook for another 10 minutes. If the stock dries up at any point or you do not have enough stock, adding boiling water will do the trick.

20130903_203628Final Outcome!


Seyi and I. When everyone was finished, he continued to eat…from the pan itself!

Note: Chorizo brings great flavour to paella dishes.


Trip down memory lane…some of my paella experiences in Valencia. 2009.


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