09 Mar2012

Here is the step by step guide (with photos) to our “house” paella… :) I first featured a paella recipe here, so you can refer to that recipe and these visual instructions. Since that first paella post, I have made dozens of paellas and posted several on this blog. Paellas receive enthusiastic reader responses, and several private emails, so I thought it might be useful to do this basic tutorial, with the help of our two “manongs” at home, the resident paella experts who tend fire and paella with great pride and expertise… :) But first, some caveats for paella purists, for whom there are a few out there. Yes, we do tend to “overdo” our paellas, with too much rice and too much “stuff” in one pan. I agree. Ours is an Imeldific one, with no apologies. A sort of rice with viand jumble, rather than the subtle and intense saffron rice with just a hint of protein. Second, we make a 3-4 hour sofritto of slowly caramelized onions, tomatoes, garlic and saffron which is our flavoring base, it is essential in my opinion. Every time we try a shortcut version of tomato paste and aromatics in the pan, I feel it is inferior in flavor somehow. :) Third, we use bomba or other spanish short grain rice when we can get our hands on it, but most of the time, end up using arborio rice as it is more readily available. Arborio tends to get a little more mushy and wet than bomba. Fourth, we almost ALWAYS do this over a charcoal fire. If we had a vineyard nearby, we would use dried grape vines for intense short term heat and a smoldering fire. Cooking over a charcoal fire takes practice in the sense that you want it hot enough to get a bit of a socarrat or tutong, but not before your rice is perfectly cooked.

First, don a vintage Marketman family beach house crab t-shirt, here. Light your charcoal fire, and when ready, place your paella pan on the grill. Add a generous amount of olive oil and add your chicken parts (rabbit if you have a fresh one that’s properly cleaned) and pork (we used some leftover lechon meat, because we had it) and saute for a minute or two. Season with salt and pepper, add a touch of sweet paprika if you like.

Next, add the rice and stir to coat with the meat juices and oils…

…seconds later, add generous amounts of sofritto, the secret ingredient. :) Mix this all together with some urgency…

…and quickly but carefully pour in the HOT chicken broth. While we normally put generous amounts of saffron in the sofritto, lately, I have leaned towards adding more saffron to the broth as well. Make sure you give the saffron several minutes to infuse the broth for maximum flavor impact. Good saffron is the key to a great paella most of the time… With lots of saffron, some folks don’t even bother with a broth, but only add hot water.

Mix the broth and rice mixture a bit to try and evenly distribute the rice at the bottom of the pan, then never mix it again. Bring this to a steady simmer, then add some chorizo. At this point, you are roughly 10 minutes into the cooking process. Simmer for a few minutes more.

Season generously with salt…

…and freshly ground black or white pepper. We find it’s good to season at this stage, and again after all the seafood has been added.

Next, at about the 15 minute mark, add your fish (fresh tangigue cut into cubes), cleaned and cut squid…

…and shrimp to the paella pan. If your eyes were really sharp, you would have caught that the shrimp went in first, rather than the other way around. :)

Sometimes, we find it useful to cover the grill for a couple of minutes, but often times that isn’t even necessary.

After about 22-25 minutes, depending on the volume of rice/stuff you are cooking, the paella should be just about ready. We like to pull it off rather “wet” still, then follow the classic Spanish move of wrapping the paellera in newspaper and letting it steam for several minutes more before serving.

Do not skip the steaming step. It’s important. Oh, and recently I just learned that paellas are not eaten piping hot, and straight off the fire, their flavors develop and are apparently best consumed some 15-20 minutes after taking them off the flames… we tried this the other day and I have to say I like that idea a lot.

So wasn’t that really easy? Now you have no reason not to try this at home! Again, if you were observant, you would have noticed that there are two different paellas photographed in this post. The top and the bottom photos are in a different pan… The top and bottom paella was an attempt to do it “closer” to authentic, we halved the amount of rice and tried to reduce the meat and seafood, but it still wasn’t as “thin” as a Spanish paella… it tasted good, however. The large paella in the black pan had exactly the same ingredients, but was double the thickness when cooked… the crew devoured that one. :)

P.S. For our experimental paella the other day, I also added the broth BEFORE the rice and that turned out just fine, so you can do that order of ingredients if you like.



  1. Jeff says:

    wow! sarap!

    Mar 9, 2012 | 7:46 am


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  3. Anne :-) says:

    Loving those shots!!! I’ll try this on the weekend…thanks MM

    Mar 9, 2012 | 7:51 am

  4. besYS says:

    Ang SARAP!
    I love the photos+step-by-step instructions. So, there’s no reason to cook this kind of Paella!
    Btw, I tried cooking Paella using an 8 Qt. S/S Dutch Oven ( All-Clad) coz I dont have the paella pan just like yours.
    We love the “tutong.” Thanks MM!

    Mar 9, 2012 | 8:12 am

  5. PITS, MANILA says:

    thanks for sharing, MM! looks easy enough to do (i bet it’s going to be just the opposite for me, hahaha!) …
    using newspaper for steaming is a good idea. will try using newspaper to cover cooked food in the future … this to avoid some of the moisture from condensation dripping back to the food.

    Mar 9, 2012 | 8:16 am

  6. bengster says:

    Many thanks for the step-by-step MM. Have you ever tried using basmati rice? Arborio does get mushy in the end.

    Mar 9, 2012 | 8:19 am

  7. Z says:

    Bookmarked this already, for when my cooking skills become good enough for paella, which is easily one of my favorite dishes. It really requires some serious work! A step by step guide is good for beginners like me. Thanks. I find it difficult to read between the lines of a recipe. I understand more with a demo, and clear, detailed instructions.

    Two questions please:
    – When you say “we find it useful to cover the grill for a couple of minutes, but often times that isn’t even necessary”, how is covering the grill useful? I’m thinking it’s only for hastening the cooking process.

    – Why charcoal fire and not stove fire on high?

    Mar 9, 2012 | 8:20 am

  8. Novie says:

    Thank you MM…you dont how happy i am everytime i read your posts…you really make my day everyday!!! I hope to cook paella like this and i’ll add clams and tahong.

    Mar 9, 2012 | 8:22 am

  9. ami says:

    Wow, there’s so much seafood on top that you can hardly see the rice. This together with conchinillo and churros is my ideal spanish feast! Too bad when the spanish left us after 300+ years of rule food like this didn’t become mainstream.

    Mar 9, 2012 | 8:30 am

  10. jakespeed says:

    Hi Marketman, do you think the sofritto will do well when kept in the freezer til the time I make my paella?

    Mar 9, 2012 | 8:50 am

  11. josephine says:

    Quite Imeldific! And very authentic. I find broth before rice works better. In northern Spain they yell ‘veinte minutos!’ which is when the broth boils and they throw the rice in which means get yourself to the table as paella won’t wait, though it is rested with the newspaper or clean cloth. I was puzzled by the instructions in recipes from Valencia which said “add snails or some sprigs of rosemary” but apparently the snails gorge themselves on rosemary, so the taste is the same.

    Mar 9, 2012 | 8:51 am

  12. Kanela says:

    Hello. I noticed you emphasized adding HOT broth. Does this apply to cooking in general – that when adding liquid ingredients to a pot, they should more or less the same temperature? For example, when making a soup, the stock I add is usually frozen. Is this detrimental to the outcome? Thanks!

    Mar 9, 2012 | 9:03 am

  13. Footloose says:

    They definitely taste better after a few minutes rest from the fire because your taste buds do not get scorched first.

    Mar 9, 2012 | 9:17 am

  14. Marketman says:

    Kanela, for the paella, you don’t want to bring the temperature of the mixture down with a cool or cold broth, so it’s best to add hot broth. For a soup, I suppose it is okay to use a cold broth, depending on the type of soup, but perhaps a good rule to try and use at least room temperature broth most of the time, if you can’t have it hot. Josephine, I have tried a rabbit and snail paella in Madrid or was it Barcelona and it was good… and yes, a hint of rosemary. jakespeed, absolutely, we make big batches of sofritto, and refrigerate or freeze portions enough for the paelleras we use. Defrost before using the sofritto. Novie, yes, if you have access to good clams and mussels, add them in! We often add crab (none at the market the other day), lobster, scallops, etc. when we have it. Z, we cover the grill to increase the all-around heat, and to bring the pan of ingredients to a good simmer. Also, if you want to color shrimp on top, covering for a minute or so increases the temperature and colors the shells to an appetizing orange… a charcoal fire provides more heat and over a broader area… not to mention a distinct aroma from the wood fumes. But if you are doing this at home, feel free to start a small to medium sized paellera on a stove top, then place in a pre-heated oven to finish it off. That works well too… bengster, haven’t tried basmati rice yet… but it’s a long grain so I would have tended to the shorter grain rice varieties first…

    Mar 9, 2012 | 9:39 am

  15. january says:

    i remember how the old folks at home cooked paella in talyasi and cover it with banana leaves after its out from fire.

    definitely your creation is superb, the yummy photos speaks for it! :P

    Mar 9, 2012 | 10:27 am

  16. little mary says:

    @Footloose, your comment made me smile. my cooking method is rice first before adding the broth but next time i will try the broth first. thanks MM for this very yummy post.

    Mar 9, 2012 | 11:17 am

  17. pixienixie says:

    The recipe is relatively easy enough; however, I’m a bit scared to try it because of the warning about the coals:

    “Cooking over a charcoal fire takes practice in the sense that you want it hot enough to get a bit of a socarrat or tutong, but not before your rice is perfectly cooked.”

    Mar 9, 2012 | 11:53 am

  18. Risa says:

    “If we had a vineyard nearby, we would use dried grape vines for intense short term heat and a smoldering fire.” — Hahaha – invitation to a fishpan comment.

    I’m afraid to try the broth- rice combination without any measurements. Any rule of thumb to help me out? I don’t know if arborio or bomba responds to the general 1 cup rice to 1 cup liquid proportion. Or does the paellera boil off any excess fluid anyway?

    I’m thinking that at the 20 minute mark (from the slow simmer) — if it looks too dry I can add more broth just to make it a bit wet at 25 min mark before steaming in newspapers.

    Mar 9, 2012 | 12:43 pm

  19. Marketman says:

    Risa, detailed recipe is in the link in the main post above. I always use 2x broth to rice… so a cup of rice, 2 cups of broth… Try to add all the broth in the first 15 minutes… and if necessary, err a little on too much broth, it will evaporate or be absorbed…

    Mar 9, 2012 | 12:56 pm

  20. Faust says:

    Phew! the Paella looks enticing to eat! I can hear it’s saying “Eat Me”

    Mar 9, 2012 | 1:13 pm

  21. Betchay says:

    is it safe to use newspapers? I mean, the ink will not taint your paella? because most of the time after I read our newspapers my hands are dirty with the ink and sometimes stain my white Tshirts too!

    Mar 9, 2012 | 1:32 pm

  22. quiapo says:

    Another advantage of cooking it over charcoal as above is that the whole pan gets heated as stove tops don’t have the circumference of substantial paella pans, and unless you time rotations properly, you wind up with the edges underooked.
    Paella making is a creative process, and once you have mastered the basic process, there is an infinity of variations, only limited by your imagination. My grandfather used to serve paella every Sunday, and it was also one of my dad’s favourite culinary presentations, so I am a 3rd generation (at least) paella cook, and I still come up with novel variations the family has not tried. In fact, my wife claims my paella tastes different each time I make it.
    I started using basmati rice for health reasons (low gllycemic index) and now use it exclusivelly. It may not be as nice as Calasparra which retains its texture and absorbs so much flavour, but it is very forgiving, cooking quickly with nicely separate grains, as well as being kind to diabetics.

    Mar 9, 2012 | 3:42 pm

  23. joey says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this MM! We are just in the infancy stage of our paella adventures so all these tips really help! Once thing that we like to do also is use a really flavorful seafood broth, which has always been what my family does :)

    Mar 9, 2012 | 4:31 pm

  24. Marketman says:

    joey, a seafood broth for a arroz negro or a seafood tomatoey paella would be brilliant… :) quiapo, good to know, basmati works, will keep that in mind… betchay, I can’t imagine why not, the paper hardly ever even touches the food… but if you want, use a sheet of manila paper as a first layer with newspapers on top of that…

    Mar 9, 2012 | 5:15 pm

  25. Chinky says:

    hi, MM. Have made paella with your sofrito base and your paella recipe. Have gotten very good reviews. Thanks for sharing.

    Mar 9, 2012 | 7:10 pm

  26. Shalimar says:

    I will never forget my South African crew mate’s first paella experience in Valencia. So I asked her, Mariscos (seafood), negra (squid ink) or Valenciana?
    OK Valenciana.. as soon we started eating she pointed something to me on the plate..
    Are those snails? haha yes dear Valenciana right? ;-) I do miss Spain and my green grocer, my fish monger and sitting at the cafe right inside the mercado (mercat).
    I feel like abandoning everything in Greece to move there!

    Mar 9, 2012 | 8:49 pm

  27. Shalimar says:

    btw… the first holiday where I did not indulge on my favourites i.e. seafood. I was in landlocked Nepal. Guess its not a place for me to retire ;-). Finally updated stories of my crazy trip!

    Mar 9, 2012 | 8:53 pm

  28. benchorizo says:

    Thanks for this. Sounds easy enough. Now I can try doing it.

    Mar 9, 2012 | 10:54 pm

  29. raffy says:

    Yummy! Tomorrow would be a good time for me to get the ingredients at FTI market.. Hopefully, this is lunch tomorrow.

    Thanks, M.M.

    Mar 9, 2012 | 11:59 pm

  30. sur says:

    Am headed to Madrid/ Barcelona /Toledo / Lisbon / fes/ marrakesh next week (although not Valencia, alas) and invariably will taste many an iteration of this (arroz-marriscos, arroz- calamares, ad nausaeaum…)

    Mar 10, 2012 | 12:00 am

  31. mabuhay says:

    mm, can we substitute the newspaper with manila paper. I mean with the ink and all, it might affect the aroma and taste.

    Mar 10, 2012 | 12:38 am

  32. betty q. says:

    If using newspaper to cover the dish is an issue, maybe using those brown paper bags given by some grocery stores still would be a good alternative. After using the brown paper bag to cover the dish, throw it in your compost bin. I am sure the worms will be happy with the scent!

    Mar 10, 2012 | 2:39 am

  33. Marketman says:

    mabuhay, yes, manila paper will work. But newspapers have worked fine for us for years…

    Mar 10, 2012 | 6:09 am

  34. gia mayol says:

    The first time I made paella, I had my laptop nearby because I used Marketman’s paella posts as a guide. :))

    Mar 10, 2012 | 7:38 am

  35. josephine says:

    If using newspaper bothers you, kitchen paper towels, kitchen cloth towels or even foil work. I have seen all of these used in Spain, and on our French side of the Pyrenees. However, the observant types will notice that MM is using the International Herald Tribune which uses superior newsprint paper and ink which does not run (compared to most Philippine newspapers – test purely unscientific but carried out while training 6 wk old choc labrador) so – if your reading tastes are not as refined as MM’s – use the alternatives.

    Mar 10, 2012 | 8:29 am

  36. Marketman says:

    josephine, hahaha, good eyes, good eyes, International Herald Tribune indeed… :)

    Mar 10, 2012 | 8:32 am

  37. Carol says:

    Thanks for this, MM! I will try this during our Holy Week vacation at our farm house in Lemery where I can cook this using our outddor grill (that’s where I cook the Sinaing na Tulingan, too!). May I make a request? My daiughter also loves Paella negra. Do you also have a tried and tested recipe for it?

    Mar 10, 2012 | 1:28 pm

  38. Marketman says:

    Carol, my best arroz negro recipe, here. It took me a while to get it right. The keys to success? Good rice. Good squid ink. A flavorful seafood broth. And finally, a garlicky aioli to go with the rice. Enjoy! :)

    Mar 10, 2012 | 1:47 pm

  39. lee says:

    the character of the paella depends on what section of the newspaper is used to cover it with. Using the front page will produce little rice grains adept at current events. The entertainment page will result in gossipy sea creatures. Avoid using the business pages.

    Mar 11, 2012 | 1:31 pm

  40. Footloose says:

    And the obit section can be fatal.

    Mar 11, 2012 | 7:22 pm

  41. lee says:

    @footloose. that is why fugu has to be wrapped in the comics section.

    Mar 11, 2012 | 9:25 pm

  42. Dragon (Melbourne) says:

    @ Lee and Footloose: groooaaaannn…….

    Happy Monday!

    Mar 12, 2012 | 8:13 am

  43. izang says:

    My husband has developing tastebuds, and is now willing to try different foods. We have tried a paella negra in a resto at The Fort, and he liked it. We are planning of trying to cook paella from your posts and pics. Question, can the local “malagkit na bilog” be used as a substitute for starters? Thanks.

    Mar 12, 2012 | 9:47 am

  44. joyce says:

    thanks for the great tutorial. was wondering can i substitute a large pan instead of a paellera? thank you again.

    Mar 12, 2012 | 5:13 pm

  45. kaye says:

    I followed your paella recipe and made it here in Poland. We couldn’t find a Paellera, so we used a big cast iron skillet, and since we still have winter here, we did it on our stove top. It came out successfully. The sofritto is the key. Thank you.

    Mar 12, 2012 | 10:06 pm

  46. jakespeed says:

    Hi MM, any knowledge where to buy a paellera and good saffron in the philippines? and what are the brands of paellera and saffron that you are using? thanks, in advance, for the info.

    Mar 16, 2012 | 5:42 pm

  47. Marketman says:

    jakespeed, I recently bought a new paellera at Gourdo’s in the Fort, the silvery heavy gauge pan… it works BEAUTIFULLY, but is pricier than the standard black pans… available at other kitchen stores or Spanish delis… saffron at Flavors n spices in Market!Market! or good groceries. They also have saffron powder (good for paella) at S&L Fine Foods…

    Mar 16, 2012 | 6:13 pm

  48. Claro Mente says:

    You can buy the pan at Terry’s Deli, @ the Podium basement level. I use the ‘8 raciones’ or serves 8 pax. Easily you can put 4 cups of bomba rice or paella rice also available at Terry’s. I put enough broth just below 5mm from the top of the pan. Also i use kraft paper. I don’t like to think what chemicals the ink of the news paper have that may drip into the food that I will eat.

    Mar 17, 2012 | 8:26 pm

  49. Claro Mente says:

    MM, I will try this style… =D are you using paella for 12 pax?

    Mar 17, 2012 | 9:22 pm

  50. Cookie says:

    Hi MM – Paella is now my signature dish thanks to you, its been about 4 years now since I’ve tried your recipe and I think I have “made it my own” and my friends love it.. thank you ;)

    Apr 14, 2012 | 11:29 am

  51. Fards says:

    MM, I am going to make the paella for the very first time. Made sofrito a while back following your recipe and froze it and I was going to use it. But thought I will just make fresh one to be sure it taste right. Now I have the above tutorial handy. Wow! Thank you.

    Feb 23, 2014 | 2:31 am


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