Authentic Catalan Paella

I absolutely LOVE Paellas and I’ve been making paellas for years now. I’ve made all kinds of Paella. But when I went to Spain recently and cooked with a local chef, I leaned a few mind blowing tips and tricks.

First trick…. turmeric!!

About This Recipe:

This recipe uses both seafood and chicken, but you can use this recipe to make any version of paella…. meat paella (maybe with rabbit 😉 ) or vegetable paella, or all seafood paella.

About the pan, of course a paella pan would be best, but a cast iron pan works just as well. The whole point is to cook in a pan with a flat bottom and that distributes even heating, so everything cooks up in an even layer and at the same time. This also helps to make that delicious socarrat!

Socarrat is that delicious crispy bottom layer of rice, which is a pretty important part of a great paella. But don’t let that scare you, all you have to do is NOTHING! The trick is to leave the rice alone and not stir once you’ve added the liquid. The rice will soak up all the delicious liquid and all the oil will settle on the bottom and crisp up the rice… MMMM.. possibly the best part of Paella!

Pro Tips for a great Fish Curry:

  1. It’s important to lightly fry the fish first. Otherwise it may fall apart in the process. There are other recipes that doesn’t involve this part, but that takes a bit of practice. This is the simplest/safest recipe 🙂
  2. It’s important to follow the steps of cooking the spices before you add your veggies and fish in. This assures that you won’t have any raw spice smell or taste.
  3. Use hot water when cooking. I use boiling hot water but it’s okay to use your hottest tap water, I do that all the time! If you add cold water to the curry, it slows down the cooking process, which in turn elongates the cooking time, which results in mushy curry.


  • 2 cups rice (short/medium grain)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper (any or all color)
  • 1 cup crushed or pureed tomatoes (fresh tomatoes is always best)
  • 1/4 cup peas
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 3 3/4 cups chicken stock (veg stock would work as well)
  • 1/4 cup white wine (cold)
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • Pinch of saffron (1 tbsp saffron threads OR 1/2 tsp crushed saffron)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6-8 prawns
  • 6-8 clams
  • 6-8 mussels
  • 2-4 pieces of chicken (dark meat is preferable)
  • water **only if needed


  1. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and set aside.
  2. Over medium high heat, add the oil and the whole garlic cloves in a cast iron pan. Fry the garlic for 1 minute and let it infuse the oil.
  3. Add the onions and peppers with a pinch of salt (about 1/4 tsp) **see note 1. Sauté for 3-4 minutes until the onions are translucent.
  4. Push the veggies to the side and add the chicken, skin side down. Fry for 3-4 minutes, until the skin is nicely browned, then flip them over and add 2 tbsp of parsley. Toss and fry for another 2 minutes, then push them aside.
  5. Add the clams to the pan, followed by the cold wine **see note 2. Toss to mix and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until the alcohol cooks off.
  6. Add the mussels, followed by the cold tomatoes right on top **see note 3. Toss to mix.
  7. Add all the spices, paprika, turmeric, bay leaves and saffron. Stir everything well to incorporate and dissolve the spices. Flavor everything in the pan with the spices.
  8. Add the prawns. Toss and cook for about 3 minutes, until the prawns change color. Then push them to the side, making room in the middle.
  9. Add the rice and toss with the spices. Cook the rice for 1-2 minutes until it’s well coated.
  10. Add the peas followed by the stock. **see note 4. Give everything a gentle stir and make sure the rice is on the bottom in an even layer.
  11. Cook on high for 8 minutes, until most of the water evaporates and is below the rice.
  12. Once the water is below the rice, cover the pan tightly (use foil if needed). Lower the heat to low and cook for another 8-10 minutes.
  13. After 10 minutes, uncover and garnish with chopped parsley and lemon wedges.


  1. The seafood is quite salty as is, so add salt just for the veggies.
  2. It’s fairly important to use cold wine, so it slows down the cooking process and doesn’t over cook the clams.
  3. Add cold tomatoes to slow down the cooking process, so it doesn’t over cook the mussels.
  4. No matter what kind of stock you’re using, use the best stock you can find. The rice is going to soak up all the liquids so it’s important that the stock is well flavored.

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