Paella a la Marketman

This entry was one of my first posts in January 2005. I am re-posting it due to the number of requests for paella for the upcoming holidays. It sounds daunting but all the preparation is utterly and absolutely worth it.This is it. A really delicious and fairly authentic Paella a la Valenciana you can make at home. Culled from several sources and tested on our outdoor grill numerous times, this Marketman Paella recipe is my contribution to all of those people who have completely messed up a perfectly good peasant dish. paella1 While the recipe will appear daunting, it is really quite easy once you have tried it. It always amazes me how perfectly good recipes are bastardized to the point that they are just shades of their original selves. We Filipinos have done this to several international favorites — think sweet spaghetti with hotdog, cesar’s salad with iceberg lettuce, potato salad with pineapple and tiny ensaymada more cake-like than flaky pastry. One can argue that we are merely innovative (pronounced e-nov-a-tiv???), experimental, etc. … I say stick to the original, thank you. Having said that, have you ever wondered how Spain ended up with rice and saffron, two key ingredients in their paella? One account has it that rice and saffron were brought by Arab invaders. Another version suggests that rice was introduced to Greece then Southern Europe by Alexander the Great’s expeditions in 344 B.C. Hmmm…

Paella takes its name from the paellera, the two-handled frying pan in which the dish is traditionally cooked. Paellera comes from the latin patella, meaning pan. Paella originated in the countryside of Spain, and is traditionally cooked by men, typically farm hands or hunters. In the fields or forests edge at lunchtime, they simmered short grain rice in the pan and threw in whatever edibles were close at hand such as snails, rabbit, artichokes, etc. Along the shores, they improvised with added seafood. Purists will harp on the fact that the right strain of rice makes the difference between a good paella and a great paella. Valencia is where most of Spain’s rice is grown. Spaniards use short grained rice such as Bomba or Callasparra which are able to absorb lots of broth but retain their shape. They scoff at the Italian Arborio which has a creamier texture. If you can get Spanish short grain rice that is ideal, but I find Arborio or Carnaoli to be reasonable alternatives. Real saffron is a must (the local kasubha will not do).

I consumed a string of mediocre paellas late last year which led me to search for an authentic recipe I could do at home. I was intrigued by doing it on a charcoal flame just like they did in the fields of Spain. My recipe search and several attempts on the grill have yielded the following recipe. Do not take shortcuts or substitute any of the key ingredients or I will get cross.

The first key is to make a genuine sofrito. This sofrito recipe taken from Cesar – Recipes from a Tapas Bar by Olivier Said. Heat 3/4 cup of extra-virgin Spanish olive oil in a large heavy bottomed saute pan. Add 4 large white onions that have been sliced very thinly. Uniform slice widths are critical. Turn heat to low and cook the onions slowly until fully caramelized and evenly brown, about 1 hour. Yup, 1 hour. Stir occasionally to ensure even browning. The onions should be brown, sweet and soft. Next add four cloves of garlic that have been thinly sliced and cook for another 15 minutes. Add 4-5 cups of diced perfectly ripe fresh tomatoes or canned chopped tomatoes and 1 – 2 teaspoons of good saffron and cook this another 1 hour until you get a thick jamlike consistency. Puree in a blender or using a hand-held puree machine. If you take a shortcut on the sofrito, you have doomed your paella. Seriously.

Next make sure all other ingredients are assembled — this recipe is for a 20-inch paellera and should feed 16 easily.

Spanish olive oil
6-7 cups short grained rice (Italian carnaoli or arborio if no Spanish)
12-14 cups of chicken stock (home made if you have it or canned low sodium as an alternative) – heated
1/2 kilo chicken more or less
A few chorizo bilbaos
1/3 kilo sliced pork tenderloin
3/4 kilo crab or crab claws
1/2 kilo clams or mussels
1/3 kilo squid cleaned and without ink sacks or beady eyes
1/2 kilo prawns
Some frozen peas (omit if you want authentic Valenciana)
Some sliced grilled red peppers (mostly for color and visual appeal)

Start a large charcoal fire in your Weber or similar barbecue grill. When it is hot, place the grill on and your paellera. Heat up about 1/4 – 1/3 cup of olive oil, then saute chicken and pork seasoned with some salt and pepper and paprika if you like. Brown these a little and stir frequently. paella2 This will give you a gauge of heat levels… if things are cooking too fast close your air vents to regulate fire. Next throw in sliced chorizo and as soon as it is rendering fat put 6-7 cups of rice and stir rapidly to coat the rice with olive oil and meat juices. Do this fast as the rice could burn. Add all of your sofrito and stir quickly to coat the rice. Next put in 12-14 cups of hot chicken stock (2 cups for every cup of rice) and make sure the rice is evenly distributed in the pan and wait for this to simmer. You may want to withhold a cup or so of liquid to add later. Do not stir the mixture from here on in. Next place the crab pieces and claws on top of the rice. Cover the barbecue for a few minutes to let the rice and crab cook. Next place the prawns, squid, and clams on top of the rice and sprinkle with some salt to taste. You may not be able to include all yor ingredients so don’t fret if you have extras. Let this cook another 5-7 minutes before you put the green peas and the slivered red peppers. Cover again for a few minutes. When the broth is fully absorbed the paella should be cooked. This will take 20-30 minutes depending on the strength of your fire. The fire should start out strong and gradually taper off. Serve with lemon wedges and cross your fingers hoping that you have some burned crusted rice at the bottom of the pan otherwise known as tutong. Some people really dig the tutong. If you want more fat, serve an aoili (garlic mayonnaise) on the side.

I had a surplus of shellfish the first time I made this so I stir fried prawns, crab, clams and squid together with 2-3 cups of crab roe to augment the paella. paella3 This last photo is of all that extra stuff. Truly over the top. Gout material. Enjoy your paella.


31 Responses

  1. we have never cooked paella on a grill, but if that works this sounds like the perfect beach food!

  2. Holy frijolles! Chorizo in a paella????!!!! Que barbaridad! Must be Valencian, no Catalan would do that! Will email you a couple of recipes for testing in a couple of weeks. :-)

  3. Yum I love Paella…..would you have an easy stovetop recipe
    I don’t have a Paella Pan, is it necessary?

  4. Hey marketman, everyone indiginizes, so to speak, international recipes to suit local taste. Hello! Even international food chains do it — it’s called marketing, duh?

  5. I completely agree that local tweaks are part of evolution; it’s just sad when perfectly good originals are bastardized and assumed to be the real thing. Think of our local pre-occupation with sweet food… sweet spaghetti, sweet meats, etc. it’s something of the last 150 or so years only. Before that, we probably had some of the most brilliantly fresh and grilled fish, meats and veggies. I’d hate to think that legions of Filipino kids are growing up on sweet spaghetti, toyo-ed hamburgers, and red hotdogs instead of a properly made sinigang, a fresh fish sinugba style or a simply boiled saba banana… but that’s only my view…

  6. I agree with you market man……and, some of the “reincarnations” are just strange…I had a cousin
    that put sugar in good old Mac & Cheese…..eek! now that’s just wrong! I love good old filipino food, and love some
    variations, but when it comes
    to sweet spaghetti with hot dogs, I’ll say “no thanks”.

  7. i think filipinos sweeten spaghetti and other meat dishes to to economize as that would require them to eat more rice.
    and hotdogs are cheaper than beef.

  8. The worst Filipinised paella are the ones with tomato sauce mixed in cooked rice with random bits of meat and vegetables.

    This looks good though … very similar to the recipe I’ve used a million times over but alas we do not have an outdoor grill at home. I suppose the advantage of an outdoor grill over stove-top cooking is that heat is more evenly distributed under the pan? Alas we don’t have an outdoor grill at home because my mum says it’s too warm to cook outdoors anyway.

  9. Hi MM! Just moved to Mississauga, Ontario from Manila. Need suggestions on a substitute for chorizo bilbao. Can’t seem to find any. Thanks!!

    I always look forward to reading your articles everyday!

  10. MM, I’ve been to Valencia last year and they called this Paella Mixta. The Paella Valenciana there do not have any seafood in it. Even the chorizo, I seldom see them use it in the dish. Personally, I like the Mixta better with lots of prawns and chorizos. Paella Negra is also yummy you just have to put up with the blackened teeth. :)

  11. OK, forget the turkey for xmas’ eve… Let’s go Paella!:-)
    Seriously, it’s been ages since I had a good paella. I might just wait for a -5ºC so the grill works honestly and try yours. Soooo… Let’s see what Meteo-Media has for us in Montreal area for the next 14 days… I need only one little day at around -5ºC!

  12. Yum. I was reading an article about making paella on . The author stated that the spaniards version of paella is very simple. The main ingredients are the rice and safron. They really do not like mixing seafood and chicken or pork together. Its either seafood paella or chicken or pork and chorizo paella. They also use Spanish chorizo which is a lot milder than most chorizos so that it won’t overpower the flavor of the super precious saffron.

    here’s the link just in case your intrested:

  13. what’s a kasubha? havent heard of that… then again i’;ve never been to a hard-core market!

  14. i read that they put rabbit and broadbeans or moonbeans or some other beans to the paella in spain. it’s a workers meal–prepared outdoors with whatever ingredients they can find nearby. so it’s the rabbit hiding behind the bush, poor wabbit. i love the filipino variation of paella, if cooked well with good ingredients (yes, no kasubha)–(shoppaholique, this is like saffron with a little flavor and color, but it’s nothing like saffron!)

  15. yes, I’ve finally cooked this yesterday! …. thanks for the recipe MM, the sofrito really made a difference, I’ve only been using Delia’s paella recipe before, and your’s definitely the winner in our house :) …. Will definitely make this again, but this time must learn how to gauge the heat of the coals,( we used a makeshift grill of 4 big stones, charcoals and grilling rack, my paellera won’t fit in my grill) cause I got burnt rice, not tutong but really really burnt rice as in like charcoal, and my hubby’s wondering where did the smoky flavor comes from….hehehehehe……thanks again for a winner recipe :)

  16. Edee, glad you still got an edible dish despite coal problems… you need to start with a strong fire but it must die down to medium quickly and if it isn’t gently gurgling, add more coals… You’ll get it right I’m sure and this could be your next party food dish…

  17. Hi Marketman, First, I think this site is great! I’ve tried some of your recipes and they were good. On the issue of sticking to the original, I think taste on food – just like taste on anything else like music – is subjective and people are just different. The original may be good but it could also be a stepping stone to something better such as most of the recipes you presented here. Aren’t they mostly(?) modified versions of the original? I recall reading somewhere that there are more than a thousand versions of Paella. Are you saying your recipe is the original when you didn’t even use a paellera to cook it with? If Filipinos are “bastardizing” foreign food, think of the American take on pizza and Chinese food. I asked a couple of my Chinese friends who grew up in China and are now in the US what they thought about Chinese food in the US. They said it’s not original. But I think the Chinese food in the US is good nonetheless. And finally, would you also then describe Ferran Adria’s way of cooking as “bastardizing”? I know it doesn’t make sense to some people why some Filipinos like the sweet spaghetti or the burgers with soy sauce, but it’s just difference in tastes. I like mango served with sticky rice but other people can’t see how that’s a great combination. Some people like their puto served with dinuguan but I don’t. Again, difference in tastes. I don’t mean to be antagonistic as I still want to browse this site regularly and hopefully share insights in the future. Peace and great job on this website!

  18. Johnny, thanks for visiting the site. I agree with many of your observations…and that food evolves and is subject to personal taste. I only point out a preference for the “original” in that if one develops a dish, I would hope that most recognize its underpinnings and stick close to the original concoction or call it something else. For example, a Caesar salad as developed by Cesar Cardini is quite straightforward, why continue to call all evolutions still by that name? For convenience, recognition, ease? As for the paella, certainly there are hundreds of versions of this…but those closer to the “original” are made in a paellera, which is what I use above, and are, in my opinion, more likely made over an open flame rather than in an oven and the smokiness imparted by the fire is part of the package…someone who chooses to make a paella with different ingredients, different equipment and method (my mom used to make the tomato sauce separately, mix it in the rice, then just put the toppings before serving the dish)is, in my opinion, stretching the concept a bit. I do, however, agree that original ideas do serve as stepping stones to new things and as such, they should be recognized as new things. Ferran Adria is inventing new dishes and he calls them that. Using foams, flavors and new presentations is the key to innovation. But I doubt that he presents his foamed callaspara rice as a “Paella Valenciana.” Bastardizing just refers to removing the purity of the original idea, it isn’t necessarily bad, it is just bastardizing. I actually have no problem with folks altering recipes, but I just wish folks would rename the resulting dish so as not to mess with an “original.” My out clause is the frequent use of a “Dish a la marketman” which separates it hopefully from anyone’s original or bastardized recipe… Hence, I like the idea of a Burger McDo or a Jolly Yumburger as they clearly suggest that while they are reminiscent of a burger, they are altered. You are not at all antagonistic, it is discussions such as this that make the site interesting… enjoy!

  19. This sounds sinfully delish, but with all prices going up, I don’t really want to spend an hour of gas cooking time just caramaelizing the onion. Is there a forgiveable shortcut?

  20. Hi Marketman,

    I would like to know where I could find a good quality paellera. If you could provide me details of what to look for in a good paellera and where to get one, I would really appreciate it.


  21. just wanted to tell you my cousin cooked your paella recipe to the letter on a grill and it turned out fantastic!

  22. leslie, glad to hear this worked out. Kelvin, any spanish food shop such as Terry’s or Alba’s might carry the paelleras. maria, you could skip the 1 hour with onions and do a onion, tomatoe and saffron sauce, with less depth.

  23. You have an awesome blog. Just one quite note. Paella comes from the Catalan word for pan, paella. paellera is the outdoor area where the paella is cooked or the name of a woman that makes a paella (paellero is a man cooking the paella). Lourdes March, writer of the most well known book on spain and rice passionately states that the paella is the name of the pan and Lorenzo Millo, a food writer and author of several valencian standards of food agrees. but you are right in your history of the latin stem patella

  24. hub, thanks for that clarification… I have learned something today… I think. As there appears to be some confusion still. The local top spanish food purveyor calls it a paellera, possibly incorrectly, however, perhaps the confusion comes from Catalan, Valencian? or Castillan words for the same thing. This post, on Barcelona, acknowledges the use of paellera, despite also mentioning the word paella… now mostly used for the dish… And of course there are dozens of commercial sites selling paelleras to cook paella in… Then of course, the on-line version of Britannica would be wrong… ah… it’s all in the details, isn’t it? But thanks for bringing it up.

  25. seriously, your website is so awesome. tried the thomas keller french onion soup, turned out great, surprisingly really sweet just from the onions. love your sofrito post. Im going to make paella for my friends at the beach and planning on using orange wood (supposedly the traditional source of wood in valencia) and grape vines. and about the paellera, theres a lot of confusion for sure, but who cares, its just a name for something wonderful. you are a true inspiration and thank you for taking the time to share your wonderful pictures and advice/information. happy eating

  26. hub, it’ll be two cups plus if properly made, and yes, the more sofritto, the merrier… though you can freeze some for a another smaller paella…

  27. Hi MM, just checking out your paella recipe. I’m really considering making one for the New Year. Anyway, may I know what brand of Chorizo de Bilbao and saffron do you use? And if its not available here in Manila, what’s a good substitute?


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