Can I Make Paella? (Let's Go!)
Updated: Aug 27
This is a struggle times version of Geoffrey Zakarian's Quick Paella with Chorizo, Shrimp and Chicken from the Food Network. There are some hacks like getting some ingredients from the salad bar that I do all the time, but there was some tricks I used because of struggle times & lack of ingredients because the shelves at the store were bare.
I had authentic paella before in Valencia when I went there for a Melanoma Meeting actually. I probably would have never tried to make a real paella myself without being encouraged by the weird & wacky holiday: Paella Day. Doing these weird & wacky holidays is fun & funny to me and I learn a lot of new things too! For example, I learned how to clean mussels for this recipe (check out that post) and also I learn things when I look up things to write for the posts. I never run out of ideas for content either.
You don't have to do as many as me, but if you're stuck on what to post, there are a ton of different ideas! Check out the link.
Also, after I try different recipes or art projects, then I come up with my own recipes and projects too. So I have even more recipes, projects to do & more content.
What is Paella Day?
"March 27th is the annual observance of National Spanish Paella Day. A rice dish from Spain, paella has become very popular and is known around the world. It originated in its modern form in the mid-19th century in Valencia, on the east coast of Spain.
At lunchtime, workers in the fields would make the rice dish in a flat pan over a fire. They mixed in whatever they could find – such as rabbits, snails, and vegetables. Later, for special occasions, chicken was added. Paella has spread to every region of Spain, as well as worldwide, using almost any type of ingredient that goes well with rice.
There are many versions of recipes of paella. Key ingredients are saffron and olive oil. Saffron is an essential spice that also turns the rice a beautiful golden color."
Other information on history of paella:
"The word “paella” may come from the Arab word “baqiyah”, which means “leftovers”.However, another speculation is that the word “paella” is derived from a Latin word “patella”, which was a flat plate used for religious offerings made to gods. One thing we know for sure is that paella gained popularity in the mid-nineteen hundreds when paella became a popular dish served to laborers. The workers would gather midday, combine leftovers with rice, and cook over an open fire. It is believed that most paella dishes at the time consisted of snails and whatever vegetables the workers could scrounge up, and meats like chicken or rabbit were only added for special occasions."
I was making a smaller version of the recipe; ingredients from the recipe listed below. I already had saffron on hand because I was planning on making the paella.
Some of the substitutions I had to make because there was nothing in the stores were: biggest one -- had to use cooked rice from the hot bar. There wasn't any rice in the store. This impacted things later; you'll see. I also used Italian sausage I had instead of chorizo. There wasn't any garlic either; so I used garlic spread.
Some substitutions I would have made all the time -- just to make it easier & faster: got some chicken, peas, and onions from the salad bar. I also used some Marinara sauce I had instead of tomato paste, so I don't have to open a whole can of tomato paste just for 1 tablespoon.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup sliced chorizo (about 8 ounces)
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into cubes
- 1 cup chopped Spanish onions (about 1 large)
- 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
- One 8-ounce box Spanish rice
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Pinch of saffron threads
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
- 8 ounces peeled, tail-on medium shrimp
- 8 ounces mussels
- 1 cup frozen peas
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup sliced scallions
I sauteed the sausage and then added the chicken and onions in the same pan with some garlic spread too.
Typically you would add in uncooked rice with chicken stock and let it all cook together. I added in the cooked rice and a little tomato sauce (instead of tomato paste).
I added the saffron.
The saffron didn't really penetrate the cooked rice as could be expected to happen, but I fixed this later...:)
Next I added in some shrimp & my little mussels. I put a pan lid on top of the pan to cook the shrimp and mussels. It only took a few minutes.
But what to do about the color?
I added some yellow food coloring. Haha. :)
RESULT: Success! :)
We are good at this! It tasted good and looked good! It looks like we are in Valencia if you look at the photos, haha! :) (See below) I think it was definitely a success considering struggle times. The saffron flavor didn't penetrate as much in terms of color or taste with the cooked rice, but it was still good. The food coloring made it look better and more appetizing. The mussels opened up and cooked well too, so I did that all correctly. Essentially what I made was like paella fried rice because I used cooked rice. So it was a fusion dish. Haha. :)
The funny thing is when I went to the store a couple days later, the shelves were still pretty empty, but there were a few boxes of saffron rice on the shelf. So I could have made it again with real saffron rice, but on the other hand, I wouldn't have had all the other ingredients because the store was out.
Whether you make an authentic paella or a quick "paella", you can take a trip to Valencia by adding meat, seafood and veggies to saffron rice for a pretty easy hearty meal. You can also use it for other flavors of rice. You can use your leftovers from other meals and throw it in some rice to make a new dish. It's pretty fitting that as I mentioned above: "The word “paella” may come from the Arab word “baqiyah”, which means “leftovers”. I wrote the same thing about fried rice.
You can check out my fried rice and Keto/Low-Carb Fried Rice posts too for more ideas. I also tried making a Tornadeo Omelette, a Korean street food. Check it out!
Give it a try! We are good at this!