Just as much as I appreciate a quick and simple meal, I also really enjoy making more involved meals when I have the opportunity.  For me, so much of the joy of cooking is in the process.  I love spending time in the kitchen, taking care in each step to make a meal the best it can be.  This year, as a birthday gift to myself, I made this paella to share with friends.  Just the chance to prepare this dish and the challenge of trying something new and involved was exactly what I wanted.

Now I know there are lots of quicker versions of paella out there, but I wanted to go for the real thing.  I saw this recipe in a magazine last summer and immediately knew that it was the version I wanted to make when I got around to trying it.  Despite the multiple steps involved, this actually took less time than I expected.  Now I’ve never had paella in Spain so I can’t compare, but this turned out even better than I was hoping for.  My only disappointment was that the texture of the rice seemed a bit creamier than is typical of paella, and I know that is due to the fact that I didn’t use bomba rice because I couldn’t find it anywhere.  I’m already looking forward to trying again with the correct type of rice, and maybe with other combinations of protein besides just seafood.  If you enjoy cooking for the sake of cooking, I definitely recommend paella.  It is fun to make and the final product is something to be proud of.


¼ tsp. crumbled saffron threads
1 cup clam juice
1 small yellow onion (about 4 oz.)
2-3 ripe tomatoes (about 12 oz.)
¼ cup plus 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped plus 4 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
½ tsp. smoked paprika
Kosher salt
12 large (31-40/lb.) shrimp, peeled with tails intact and deveined (shells reserved)
1 lb. mussels, rinsed
1¾ cups Spanish bomba rice
12 sea scallops
1 lemon, cut into wedges


  • 01

    In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, toast the saffron over 30-60 seconds.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Finely crush the saffron threads with the back of a spoon.  Add the clam juice to the pan and return to the burner.  Bring to a boil.  Once the mixture reaches a boil, remove from the heat, cover, and set aside to infuse.

  • 02

    To make the sofrito, halve and peel the onion.  Grate the onion halves on the largest holes of a box grater to get about 1/3 cup of onion puree.  Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally.  Grate the tomato halves on the box grater down to the skin to get about 1¼ cups juicy tomato pulp.  Place a 14- to 16-inch paella pan over medium-low heat.  Add ¼ cup of the oil to the pan.  Once the oil is hot, add the onion to the pan, stirring occasionally, until it softens and darkens slightly, about 4 minutes.  Stir in the tomato pulp, chopped and whole garlic, paprika, and ¼ teaspoon of salt.  Cook the mixture in the center of the pan, stirring frequently, until it’s deep, dark red and very thick, 30-40 minutes.  Adjust the heat as needed, taking care not to let it burn.  If the mixture starts to stick, add a bit of water and scrape to deglaze the pan.

  • 03

    While the sofrito is cooking, add the shrimp shells to a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shells are dry and pink, 2-3 minutes.  Add 5 cups of water to the pan and bring to a boil.  Pick through the mussels to find the 12 smallest.  Remove the beards if present, and reserve in the refrigerator.  Add the remaining mussels to the pot with the boiling water.  Cover, reduce the heat to low, and and simmer for 10 minutes.  Strain the broth into a 2-quart measure, discarding the shells and mussels.  Add the saffron-clam broth and 1½ teaspoon salt to the shrimp-mussel broth.  Measure out 5¼ cups of the broth, reserving the remainder.

  • 04

    When the sofrito is finished, add the rice to the paella pan and cook briefly over medium heat, stirring constantly to combine, 1-2 minutes.  Spread the rice evenly over the pan, increase the heat to high and slowly add the 5¼ cups broth, trying to keep the rice in an even layer.  From this point on, do not stir the rice.  Bring to a boil and then adjust the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer, repositioning the pan as necessary so it bubbles all the way to the edges.  Simmer vigorously until the rice appears at the level of the broth, about 8 minutes.

  • 05

    Arrange the reserved mussels in the pan, spacing them evenly.  Reduce the heat so the broth maintains a more moderate simmer and after another 5 minutes, arrange the shrimp in the pan, pressing them into the rice.  Continue to simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender but still firm, about 5 minutes more.  The rice needs to simmer for roughly 18 minutes total.  (If the broth seems to be evaporating too quickly, cover loosely with foil or add a bit more broth or water, ¼ cup at a time as needed.)

  • 06

    While the paella cooks, lightly season the scallops with salt.  Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the scallops and cook until nicely browned on both sides and just cooked through, 2-3 minutes per side.

  • 07

    When the rice is done, arrange the scallops on top of the paella.  Check for any caramelized rice sticking to the pan by using a spoon to feel for resistance on the bottom of the pan.  Check in multiple areas, especially the center.  If none of the rice is caramelized, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, moving the pan around, until you hear a good deal of cracking and feel resistance, about 1-2 minutes.

  • 08

    Remove the pan from the heat.  Cover with foil or a dishtowel and let rest 5-10 minutes.  Arrange lemon wedges around the perimeter of the pan and serve.


  • Although not a seafood eater myself, I know my bf would die over this dish. I cooked shrimp scampi for the first time, wary because I’d never done seafood and it was a hit! THanks for sharing another palette pleasing recipe.

  • When I see all these amazing meals I don’t know how you find the time! You inspire me not to make “weekday it’s too busy” excuses!

  • i had paella on a trip to england to visit family and friends. at the house we were staying, they hosted a party and made paella. it was cooked outside on some sort of unit that was almost 4′ in diameter, i swear. they made it w/ pork, chicken and seafood. i thought the rice was a little bit more tough than i would have liked (maybe because i’m a major risotto fan) but as far as i remember the overall dish was delicious and i definitely remember them cooking it! yours looks great! maybe one day i’ll attempt to cook it myself!

  • YUM! I am totally bookmarking this recipe! It looks and sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

  • Mi sembra molto gustosa, ciao ♥

  • I’ve never made or tasted paella, how sad is that?? This one sounds quite perfect, the crunchy rice at the bottom is KEY (from what I hear) :) You are so right when you said this is a “I love to cook” type of meal. It makes me want to jump into the kitchen right now & make a big pan of this for breakfast. Its beautiful Annie! Kudos!

  • I am totally that way… I just love being in the kitchen and find it so therapeutic to be chopping, and dicing, and stirring for hours! I have never made paella before and would love to try it!

  • When I get back into my own kitchen (we’re moving), I will remember this.

  • Jenn V

    This looks so delicious! I will definitely be trying this soon. Your recipes always come out good!

    Oh, just wanted to say that I love your new blog design. Can’t wait to see the recipes you post up top like how you did for Valentine’s Day and now “quick and easy.” Looking forward to seeing if you do anything for Easter =)

  • Annie

    Thanks Jenn, I’m so glad you like it! It was certainly a large project but my designer did an amazing job and personally I could not be happier with it. I’m thrilled to hear you love it too!

  • Looks really good :-) and you used saffron, which is a must on Paella. Trust me I know being from Spain :-). Paella is the #1 Spanish staple food and without saffron it is not paella!

  • Shelly

    Hi Annie, I just wanted to tell you that I am totally addicted to your site. I work full time and have 2 small children but like you, cooking and baking relaxes me. I run to the grocery store several times per week on my lunch break and can’t wait to try the recipes you have posted. My husband comes home from work and says “smells delicious…what did Annie post today?” So thank you, thank you, your site has inspired me to try new things and get out of our rut of making the same old things each week. You’re the best cook, such a great writer, and your photos are scrumptous. Keep up the good work, I appreciate it so much!

  • This sounds fabulous!! I’ll have to try it for my hubby when he gets home (deployed) – he’ll LOVE it!

    Oh – and I found the Bomba rice on Amazon. =)

  • Annie

    Yes, I linked to it on Amazon within the post. Unfortunately I thought I would find it in a store, and by the time I realized it wasn’t available, it was way too late to order. I will for next time though!

  • Annie

    Wow, thank you so much! You are so sweet. Glad you enjoy what I’m doing here :)

  • I made paella once and you are right -it didn’t take as long as I thought, it was delicious, and I was so proud of myself!

  • Daniela

    Hi Annie,
    I’ve been following your blog for quite a while now, but this is my first post/comment.
    I lived in Spain for several years and now make paella often in NJ. I have searched for Bomba or Calasparra rice in every store, including Spanish stores, with no luck, so I’ve had to order it online. It cooks a little faster and doesn’t end up like mush, but i’ve still reduced the amount of water a little so the rice doesn’t over cook.
    Yours looks delicious!

  • I’ve never tried paella before, but it looks delicious! I love anything with seafood :)

  • I love paella and yours looks so fresh and delicious! All that seafood is making my mouth water. I’ve never tried bomba rice before either. Thanks for sharing!

  • micaela

    This looks gorgeous! At almost 34 weeks I could definitely go for one of these!

  • Melissa

    I get my Bomba rice from latienda.com – the texture is absolutely perfect. I’ve made paella several times now and it is always a HUGE hit! Glad you discovered it too!

  • Looks great! Love me some Paella!

  • I’m so excited that you made paella! It is one of my favorite foods ever and is on our list to make soon – probably when the weather warms up. We’ve actually made it both on the grill and over an open fire in our firepit and it turned out great! Yours looks wonderful! :)

  • Great, looking for a lovely seafood paella recipe and came across here. doesn’t look as hard as I thought but great flavours there. thanks !