Spanish cuisine, especially paella, is one of my favorite foods. I’ve always wanted to make it and couldn’t wait when I finally bought saffron.
Paella came from Valencia in Spain thanks to Roman and Arab influences. The exact origin is unknown, and there’s a few stories. Some say the first paella was cooked by Valencian farmers using whatever ingredients they had on hand. Others say it originated when Moorish kings’ servants created rice dishes from leftovers from royal banquets in large pots to take home; the word paella perhaps deriving from Arabic word “baqiyah”, which means ‘leftovers’. Or the dish was first prepared by a lover for his fiancée and that the word paella came from ‘para ella’ (‘for her’ in Spanish). Regardless, it seemed to have humble origins. (source, source)
Paella refers to the flat pan that it the rice cooked in, traditionally over a fire. Depending on the region in Spain, the meats and vegetables added vary, from rabbit, snails, chicken, chorizo to shrimp, clams, and mussels. Peas, beans, and bell peppers are common vegetables, and garlic/onions are a must.The most important ingredient is the saffron, which gives the golden color and flavor.
I love meats and seafood so I adapted my recipe from Food and Wine.
Chorizo and Shrimp Paella
4 ounces fresh chorizo, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
2 cups arborio rice
Pinch of saffron threads
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup peas
pepper, paprika, cumin to taste
extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 lemon, cut in half
In a paella pan or skillet, cook the chorizo, onions, and half the minced garlic over moderate heat until browned, about 5 minutes.Stir in the tomatoes, rice, saffron, water and chicken broth. Season with pepper, paprika, and cumin to taste. Add peas. Cover and simmer over low heat until the rice is cooked and the liquid is absorbed, 15 minutes (can add more liquid if needed).
In another large skillet, heat the olive oil and cook the shrimp with remaining garlic and and pepper over high heat, turning once, until pink and cooked. Transfer the shrimp to the rice – I like to plate it by arranging the shrimp on top.
Garnish paella with chopped parsley. Squeeze the lemon over the dish. Enjoy!