Joy Of Spanish Cooking


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Today, I am going to tell you how to make my grandma’s paella. For me, this is the best paella recipe. My grandma doesn’t use saffron for the paella.  My grandfather used to use saffron all the time. Lol. Me?? It depends … I like to use a little bit of saffron.

The secret of a good paella is the onion. Yes… don’t think that I am crazy. lil If you cook it like I tell you, the paella will take on a beautiful color and flavor.

Paella is considered one of Spain’s most popular dishes. Not all paellas are created the same though. Some paellas are made with vegetables, some with seafood and others are a combination. In my opinion, and I would say my grandma shares the same opinion, the best paella is the one with seafood and a little bit of meat.

In Spain, we also use cigalas. A cigala is like a baby lobster. It’s also similar to a crayfish, but is bigger. The flavors are also very different . I’ve never seen them in the U.S., but if you find them, go ahead and definitely add them to the paella. They’re delicious. My grandma also adds some cuttlefish, which is similar to squid. I also can’t find that in the U.S. You could add bay scallops instead.

If you are allergic to seafood, substitute the seafood for chicken. You will have some chicken, sausage and a little bit of pork.

If you don’t want to add any meat, just add an extra handful of cuttlefish or squid. I LOVE seafood paella.

I am under the impression that a lot of people think that paella is a very complicated dish, but it’s not. Paella is an easy dish to make, but it requires a lot of preparation and cook time. Of course the first couple of times will take longer, but once you get some practice , its pretty quick and straightforward  to make. You have to multi-task a bit, otherwise you will spend five hours in the kitchen for something that should take a couple.

When you make paella, you don’t have to make everything at that moment, you can pre-cook almost all the  ingredients ahead of time. Make sure your paella pan is at least for four-six people. If it’s a smaller pan, the rice will get soft and chewy.

The rice portion per person is 1/3 cup. If you are making paella for four, use 1/3 cup per person. (plus a little extra). If you are making paella for four, you will also use 8 spoons of broth plus 1. If you are making paella for six, you will pour 12 spoons plus 1. It’s always double plus 1.


5 from 2 votes
Total Time 3 hrs
Course dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine spanish


  • Paella Pan


  • 1 onion grated
  • 1 Red Bell pepper Chopped
  • 1 Green Bell pepper Chopped
  • .5 Ibs Calamari Choppped (tubs and tentacles)
  • 1 Cuttlefish Chopped
  • 25 Bay Scallops Optional if you can't find cuttlefish
  • 2 Medium Plain Sausages Plain seasoning, don’t use italian seasoning!!
  • 1 Small Pork Rib Chopped
  • 12-15 Shrimp Heads On is better! 2 to 3 per person
  • 12 Cigalas If you can find them...
  • .5 Ibs Mussels
  • .5 Ibs Little neck clams
  • 1 Quart Seafood broth Homemade or high quality
  • 1 1/3 cups Arroz Bomba 1/3 cup per person
  • 1 Clove garlic
  • Parsley
  • olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper


We will cook all the ingredients in the paella pan except for: ONION and the MUSSELS & CLAMS

  • In a small pan on low heat, cook the grated onion with some olive oil (about 4 tablespoons) until it looks extremely brown. This is one of the most important steps of the entire recipe. Stir it once in a while and let it cook. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes to get to the color that you want.
  • After
  • IN THE PAELLA PAN: Drizzle some olive oil (about 4 TBSP) and cook the shrimp and cigalas. Once cook, set the shrimp and cigalas aside.
  • You should have some olive oil with the flavor of the shrimp (we are building up the flavors!). Drizzle more if necessary and start cooking the two chopped bell peppers.
  • While the onions and peppers are cooking, steam the mussels and clams in about  1/4 cup of water. Once open, keep the water and add it to the seafood broth that you will be using later. Set the mussels and clams aside.
  • Once the peppers are cooked (it take less time than the onion), add the calamari, cuttlefish/scallops and the meat. Season with salt and let it cook. Drizzle some olive oil if necessary.
  • Add the onion (again, make sure it’s extremely dark brown) to the paella pan with all the ingredients and mix.
  • Its time to add the rice. On low heat, add the rice and stir until everything is mixed and the color of the rice is brown.
  • *At this point you can turn the heat off, cover the paella with aluminum foil and leave it for a few hours. You could make it in the morning, and finish it later for dinner.
  • Add the seafood broth to a pot and warm it on low heat.
  • 20 minutes before you want to serve dinner, turn up the heat for the broth to medium. If you added rice for 4 people, using a  medium-sized ladle, pour 9 spoonfuls and let it cook.
  • Shake the pan using the handle. DO NOT STIR WITH A SPOON! At this point, add the mussels and clams.
  • While the rice is cooking, prepare the garlic and a little bit of parsley using a mortar and pestle. Add a little broth and mash it.
  • When the rice is almost cooked, add the shrimp and the cigalas and then add the garlic and parsley on top. This should happen on the last couple of minutes of cook time.
  • *Try the rice before you remove it from the heat. If the rice is cooked, the paella is ready to be served. If its al dente, add a little bit of broth and cook for a few minutes.
  • Let the paella rest for 10 minutes.
  • Enjoy and Bon profit!


You can cook the seafood and meat up to 2 days in advance. 
Steam the clams and mussels up to 1 day in advance. 
Cook the onion and the peppers up to 4 days in advance. 
Keyword paella, seafood, shrimp, spanish paella


21 thoughts on “Paella”

    1. Mi abuela no le gusta. Ella cree que si los ingredientes son frescos y lo cocinas bien no es necesario. Pero es una opción de cocinar paella, tu siempre puedes añadirlo :):)

  1. OMG, your paella looks fabulous! I can imagine what a incredible mouthful of flavor in eat and every bite. Thanks for sharing:)

  2. Wow! The onions are pretty and I love that this does not use saffron to achieve the color. This looks amazingly good!

  3. Love, love paella. I took a lesson in Madrid at one time and have made it a few times when I returned home…also recently blogged about it too. Love all the seafood you have in yours.

  4. I love paella. My husband even more. That’s the one thing I usually cook for him on his birthday. I’m intrigued you don’t use saffron. I was under the impression it’s an essential ingredient other than the rice. But I can see how flavorful this is the way you caramelize the onions. I’ve essentially adopted similar method for all my cooking 🙂

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by Ivette time to read: 4 min
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