Monday, March 31, 2014

Seafood Paella + Engagement Memories

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As I pushed the oars to the old fashion rowboat around Lake Retiro in Madrid, Spain, my husband, Nick, impatiently demanded that I give them back. Not sure what all the hoopla was about I handed them to him with an inquisitive look. In exchange he handed me a delicate little box with a bird carved on it. Ah, that's what it was. He wanted to give me a gift the way he always did when we went on a trip. It has become a tradition. Except for this one was different. 

As I turned it upside down to see if it said "Made in Spain," another tradition, it made a clinking sound. Something was inside! I immediately open it to find a gorgeous sparkling engagement ring inside. Without hesitation, I took it out and slipped it on my finger! I didn't want to get so excited that I end up dropping it in the water. Can ya blame a gal?! Nick still teases me about this since he wanted to put it on my finger. Whoops! 

I said yes with as much enthusiasm as a Flamenco dancer stomping around the stage! 

Thirteen years later we have a precious little guy and taking off to Spain (or anywhere in Europe for that matter!) isn't quite as easy. So, I thought I would recreate a little bit of Spain right in my own kitchen by creating this Seafood Paella dish.

Paella is a Spanish word and means "rice dish." You can serve it in a variety of ways, but here is how I did it:

Seafood Paella Recipe

6 cups of clam broth
1 onion
1 tablespoon real crumbled bacon bits 
1 bunch of scallions
1 small red pepper
4 cloves of chopped garlic (more if you prefer a stronger taste)
1 tablespoon of parsley
1 can of diced tomatoes (or 1 fresh tomato) (I used Ro*Tel diced tomatoes and green chiles)
1/2 cup of Spanish olives
2 cups of rice (I used  Goya Spanish Style Yellow Rice Arroz Amarillo - delish!)
2 dozen mussels
1 dozen clams
1 dozen large shrimp
2 filets of thick, hearty fish of your choice (I used cod)
1 1/2 cups of Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling wine (note: this may be a bit much. I really like to taste it so I added more than I think most recipes call for. If you just want a hint of the flavor you may want to go with 1 cup of a little less.)
Saffron (optional - I didn't use it but may next time!)

How to make it:
1. Coat the pan with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
2. Lightly saute fish for about 2 minutes. Remove and keep warm.
3. Saute chopped garlic, onion, scallions and red pepper.
4. Add clam broth and saffron and bring to a boil.
5. Lower broth to medium heat and add rice and cover (cook for about 7 minutes)
6. Add shrimp, clams, mussels (push them down into the liquid so they won't become dry), tomatoes, Spanish olives, and Riesling.
7. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
8. Once most of the liquid has been absorbed, serve and sprinkle with bacon bits and parsley.

Keep in mind that you can adjust seafood choices to your liking. Maybe you'd like more shrimp and less fish. Maybe you'd prefer something other than cod. It's really up to you. The next time I make this I am going to leave out the fish. I like it, but more on it's own rather than in this dish. I think I'll also bump up the shrimp to two pounds. I love it! 

Oh and also, adding saffron is popular in paella dishes - I left it out because I wasn't going for that flavor. 

And finally, many paella recipes will tell you you need a paella pan to evenly cook the rice. I'd say it probably would enhance it but isn't necessary. I used a large saute pan and it came out great! 

Do you know someone who loves to cook? Check out these great gifts for the cook in your life! 

La Paella Kit
Two pack of premium Spanish Saffron for Paella
La Paella: Deliciously Authentic Rice Dishes from Spain's Mediterranean Coast
Paella!: Spectacular Rice Dishes From Spain


  1. My girls and husband would love this recipe! I'll definitely have to save it!

  2. *drool* Paella is one of our favorite seafood dishes!

  3. What an absolutely sweet story! And I don't blame you for slipping that ring right on your finger. Better safe on your finger than in the water. I've always wanted to try to make Paella, so I'm bookmarking this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Um, yeah! This looks so delicious and truth be told I've never made one! Looks super amazing!

  5. That looks like a yummy dish that my whole family would enjoy.

  6. Um, wow! This looks so sophisticated! My kids are total seafood freaks, so they would love this.