Cioppino is a hearty Italian seafood and tomato stew, that is flavored with floral saffron,…
Seafood and chorizo paella recipe is full of Pacific Northwest clams and mussels, wild salmon, spicy chorizo and garnished with sweet peas and bright lemon.
When you are lucky enough to live in an area with abundant seafood and shellfish, what better recipe to make then the best Spanish paella recipe ever? Well perhaps a really good cioppino, but let’s save that for a rainy day.
Yes, I’m saying ever. A crispy bottom, soaked saffron tomato bomba rice and loads of mussels, clams and the most succulent wild Alaskan salmon.
Dare I say this is the best paella recipe? Yes, I am.
What Is the Best Rice for Paella?
Let’s start at the beginning, the rice. This is undoubtedly the most important ingredient in a traditional Spanish paella.
I like to use bomba rice in a classic paella recipe. Bomba rice is a shorter, wider grain and when it gently simmers in the saffron tomato broth, the bomba rice soaks up the liquid, making a plump and flavorful rice. You can find bomba rice at specialty stores, including Whole Foods and on Amazon (affiliate link).
A good substitute (and I have done this a number of times), is aborio rice, which you may find a bit easier than bomba. I usually use aborio rice in risotto (such as my wild mushroom risotto), as it’s also a shorter, wider grain. You can probably find aborio rice a bit easier if you’re in a pinch.
Paella Recipe Ingredients
- Rice: Bomba rice is best but aborio is a decent substitute.
- Saffron: A little goes a long way, however if saffron is not available, you can substitute a bit of turmeric, which will offer a golden hue but none of the floral flavors that saffron has.
- Smoked Paprika: Smoky and subtle, if you can’t find smokey paprika, sweet paprika is great, but I do love the warmth that the smoked flavor offers.
- Tomatoes: Fresh chopped tomatoes or a can of chopped tomatoes is perfect.
- Onions and Garlic: I prefer using sweet white onion or shallots.
- Chorizo: I love the spice and color that chorizo has. You can slice the links on a diagonal or sometimes I will take it out of the casing to break up the sausage a bit more.
- Stock: (chicken or seafood stock): If making a seafood paella, I would suggest a good seafood or shrimp stock. Other times, chicken stock is perfect.
- White Wine: adds another depth of flavor. Can substitute stock.
- Mussels and Clams: My favorite addition to a good seafood paella. Shrimp, crab, squid and lobster would be fantastic to add to paella as well!
- Peas: Offers a night bit of sweetness and pop or color.
- Other options: chicken or you can make a vegetarian paella with loads of vegetables.
A Few Tips on Paella Cooking:
A good quality paella pan makes all the difference in having a crispy bottom. Just be sure to season it properly with oil and keep it clean and dry after each use.
Don’t overcrowd the pan as you add ingredients and make sure you have even heating all around. For instance, if your burner has a hot spot, move the pan around for even cooking.
Layer ingredients in stages. The mussels and clams cook quickly so that’s usually the last thing to add, but the chorizo is one of the first so the fat can render out and cook all the say through.
Taste test the rice as it gets close. If the rice is still under cooked and you sauce has reduced, add 1/2 cup more stock, cover and check again.
When it comes to cooking paella covered or uncovered, traditionally paella is cooked uncovered. However, stoves vary and if one side is cooking at a different rate, I often will cover the pan (with foil or something large enough), for a few minutes to help with even cooking.
Have fun with the flavors! You can make a vegetarian paella, or an all seafood paella..the possibilities are endless.
Seafood and Chorizo Paella Recipe
- Olive oil for drizzling
- 1/2 large white onion chopped finely
- 1 large red bell pepper chopped
- 2 garlic cloves chopped finely
- 2 links of chorizo sliced on diagonal
- 14 oz can chopped tomatoes with their juices
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- Pinch of saffron
- 2 cups bomba or aborio rice
- 4-5 cups seafood or chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cups white wine
- 1/2 lb wild salmon cut in 2 inch cubes
- 1 lb clams scrubbed an cleaned
- 1 lb mussels scrubbed and clean
- 1/2 cup peas frozen works well
- Lemon wedges
- Freshly chopped parsley for garnish
- Before cooking, clean the mussels and clams. I leave them in a bowl of cold water and allow them to sit for at least 20 minutes to get all the sand out. Then use a brush or scrubber (those potato ones are great) and scrub all the shells of any outside dirt.
- For the mussels, there’s a little “beard” that holds them together, using a pairing knife, pull that out. Leave the shellfish over ice, chilled until ready to use.
- Next heat your paella pan and drizzle with olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions, and peppers and saute until just tender, about 2-3 minutes.
- Then add the chorizo and chopped garlic and and continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes until the garlic is carmelized and chorizo has a nice deep golden color. You may want to turn the sausage so both sides get a good sear.
- Next add in the tomatoes with their juices and paprika and saffron. Bring to a gentle simmer and allow the liquid to evaporate slightly so the tomatoes concentrate.
- Add the dried rice and toss the rice into the liquid and all the other flavors, making sure everything is coated evenly then use your spatula to spread the rice and everything else evenly around the pan.
- Add stock and white wine and bring everything to a simmer for about 20 minutes. Check the pan every so often, making sure the hot spots aren’t cooking faster, you may need to turn the pan every so often.
- Once the rice is about half way cooked, add the salmon around the pan and continue cooking for another 10 minutes (You may need to cover with foil for even cooking).
- Then add the clams and mussels and cook for another 10-12 minutes until they open up. I nestle the shellfish into the liquid making sure it gets enough cooking.
- Once all fish is cooked, turn off heat and add peas and garnish with lemon and parsley.