Paella Valenciana

Paella Valenciana

Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

A traditional Spanish rice dish that has become famous all over the world. The ingredients, apart from rice flavoured with olive oil, onion, garlic and saffron, vary from region to region, and even from family to family. Paella from coastal regions usually contains seafood, poultry and a spicy Spanish sausage such as chorizo. Paella from inland Spain often contains meat, chicken, sausage and vegetables. Paella takes its name from the utensil in which it is cooked – a large two-handled, heavy frying pan – but it can be cooked successfully in any frying pan large enough to take all the ingredients. Use calasparra or arborio rice for preference. Paella makes an excellent buffet dish, and only a salad and dessert or cheese are needed to complete the meal.


Quantity Ingredient
good pinch saffron, crumbled
1.25 litres chicken stock
125ml olive oil
6 half-breasts of chicken
or 4 small pork chops, cut in half
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
990g short-grain rice
freshly ground black pepper
250g fresh peas, shelled
500g prawns, cooked
500g squid, cleaned and sliced
1 chorizo or pepperoni, sliced
3 tinned pimientos, drained and sliced
1 crab or crayfish tail, cooked, (optional)
1 lemon, quartered


  1. Put saffron and stock into a large saucepan. Bring to the boil and allow stock to take on colour of saffron.
  2. Heat oil in either a paella pan or large frying pan. When very hot, sauté chicken breasts or pork until golden brown. Remove and add onions, garlic and tomatoes.
  3. When onions are softened, add rice, combine with other ingredients and fry for 3–5 minutes. Add stock mixture and season with salt and pepper. Spread rice evenly to the edge of the pan and return chicken or pork with peas. Cook over medium heat until rice has absorbed nearly all the liquid in the pan.
  4. At this stage, start decorating paella. Arrange chicken breasts or pork pieces to form a star in the centre. Add prawns, squid, slices of pepperoni, strips of pimiento and lastly, if using, crab meat with legs and cracked claws, or crayfish tail cut in sections. Do not stir at this stage as the decorations are a feature of the paella and must not be disturbed. Continue cooking until rice is tender and other ingredients are cooked.
  5. If rice appears too dry or if foods don’t appear to be cooking sufficiently, add a little more stock. Just before serving, garnish with lemon quarters.


  • The tiny squid tentacles make a pretty flower-like decoration in the paella.
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