Seafood paella

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Feeds

    four to six

Appears in

Old Food

Old Food

By Jill Dupleix

Published 1998

  • About

Paella is a family - even community - Spanish dish, originally eaten outside, cooked over hot coals on a paella, a wide, flat pan that allows plenty of surface contact with the heat, and the smoke to curl itself over the edge and imbue the rice with its magic. It is also traditionally cooked by the men of the household, a fact that some women resent, although smart women seem to think it is a damn good idea.


  • 2 pinches saffron threads or good quality saffron powder
  • 1 tsp Spanish paprika
  • 1 red pepper (capsicum)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ whole head of garlic, cut crosswise
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 500 g (1 lb) short grain arborio rice
  • 1 thick slice cooked ham, finely chopped
  • green beans, blanched
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1.5 litres (3 pints) chicken broth or water, boiling
  • 8 medium green (raw) prawns, deveined
  • 500 g (1 lb) clams or mussels, prepared (Pantry)
  • 4 small calamari, cleaned and cut into rings


Dissolve saffron in a little boiling water or stock, add paprika, and set aside. Cut red pepper in half, remove seeds and cut flesh into short strips.

Heat oil in your largest, widest pan (around 40 cm or 16 in in diameter) with the shallowest sides, over two burners if necessary. Add the garlic half, cut side down. Add onion and cook gently until soft. Add chopped tomatoes and red pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add rice and cook gently for 5 minutes until well coated. Add ham, green beans, salt and pepper, saffron and paprika water, and boiling water or broth, and bring to the boil, stirring. Stop stirring and simmer very gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes, moving the dish around on the heat occasionally.

Arrange prawns on top of rice, pushing them in slightly. Add mussels or clams, prepared and partly cooked as. Top with calamari, cover with a lid or silver foil, and continue to cook gently for 10 to 15 minutes by which time the rice should be very nearly cooked and tender. Add extra broth or water if the rice seems dry, but do not stir.

Remove from the heat and leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving straight from the pan.