Paella is a classic dish from Valencia, Spain and is often celebrated as a Sunday family dinner. While there are many variations throughout various regions of Spain, there are several common threads that help to define this glorious and celebratory dish. One of these common threads are short grained rice, like Bomba or Calaspara, cooked in a shallow steel pan know as paellera, over an open fire. The freshest seafood can be found in the coastal region of Valencia and right here in Charleston.
For this post, I will share my preparation, ingredients and method adapting to my home at the coast in Charleston, SC. Here, we are fortunate to have both short grained local Carolina Gold Rice, that is milled within 100 miles of where I live, and where it is grown. Also, we have great access to local varieties of fish and shellfish caught just off our coast and sold from docks nearby. I couldn't think of a better place in the US, for ingredients that are so comparable to what you would find in Spain for Paella.
I started with Carolina Gold Rice Middlins. Middlins are very short grained "broken" rice grains, a by-product of the milling process. They are traditional in many LowCountry preparations and are highly coveted by those that live in this region. This short grain variety and the smaller broken grains, actually resemble Bomba from Valencia, Spain. Another interesting thought I had while preparing this Paella, is that Charleston and Valencia, have similarities. Both are positioned on the east coasts of the US and Spain. Both are rice producing areas, flush with local seafood, and have similar climates! Seems like all the stars aligned on this one for me to pull off a somewhat authentic and certainly, delicious version of the seafood paellas from Spain.
To add a dash of authenticity of cooking the paella over fire, I fired up my Big Green Egg. and made sure to let the lump charcoal burn to white-ash state. Below is a list of ingredients that I used in this particular paella. I modified where necessary based on what I had on hand at the time and to my locale in the LowCountry, Charleston. Most everything can be swapped out. The technique used by cooking over fire, the pan, variety of rice, saffron, olive oil and pimenton lent a high degree of authentic flavors and texture. I hope will be inspired to dive in and cook, a delicious paella meal for you and your loved ones, on a Sunday afternoon or evening. It is fun and delicious! I recommend it served with Cava sparkling for sipping while you cook. I recommend a cold, crisp refreshing, Albariño and a Toro or Garanacha for your red to enjoy with your paella!
Gather your essentials to start:
Serves 2-4 persons for main course
Total prep time and completion, about an hour and thirty minutes, because of prepping the grill properly.
- Paellera (Paella Pan) Mine is 15" diameter
- 1/2-C Extra Virgin Olive Oil, I prefer one from Spain here.
- 1.5-C Rice-I used Carolina Gold Rice Middlins
- 2-qt. Shrimp Broth with saffron (you can substitute other fish or chicken broth) Saffron Threads are non-negotiable.
- Pimenton (smoked spanish paprika) Dulce & Picante
- Old Bay-used to season the shrimp & scallops
- Prepped vegetables: vidalia onion, garlic, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, green beans, corno di toro peppers, piquillo peppers, sliced scallion greens, lemon
- Spanish Chorizo
- Seafood: 10-Large Shrimp peeled, 8-med scallops, 16-Clams, Boquerones
- Kosher Salt or Sea Salt
- Fresh pepper for grinding
- Wooden Spoon for stirring
***Before you start, your coals should be white-ash state, no big flames! Be sure your coal bed is evenly distributed to avoid hot spots. Due to a slight slope on our patio, I found I needed to rotate the pan every few minutes during cooking to ensure the rice cooked evenly.
- pre-heat pan over hot settled coals with 1/2 C Olive Oil.
- add diced red & green bell peppers and onions and sweat
- add sliced garlic and a tablespoon of each type of pimenton and stir
- add rice to begin to pop and coat
- add green beans season with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and stir
- add saffron shrimp broth and corno di toro peppers and stir to even out the vegetables and let the rice cook. I keep the lid of the green egg open for now. **You should begin to see your the pan bubble to a simmer.
- add clams in a circle around the outer side of the pan add chorizo close lid for 5-8 minutes.
- open lid and add strips of piquillo peppers and seasoned shrimp and scallops. The clams should be starting to open by now. Close lid. You should see that the broth is absorbing nicely and you can see the vegetables and rice at this point.
- After 5 minutes, open lid. Your clams should be open, the shrimp and scallops should be done, slightly firm to the touch.
Your paella is ready!!!🥂
I garnished with Boquerones, lemon wedges and sliced scallion greens. Place on a trivet or hot pad in the middle of the table and dig in! 🍷🍷🦐🦐
Click the links below for a quick before and after video.....