What is a paella pan? Paella requires a wide pan, completely flat with a thin bottom, which makes it very responsive to changes in heat. The pan should have a wide surface allowing it to cook as thin rice layer as possible.

How to make paella without a paella pan? Just use the widest, shallowest and thinnest frying pan you have. By the way, if you have a shallow wok, that work just as fine. This only works with small portions of paella. Don’t overload the wok.

Rice fo paella. Rice is a very tricky ingredient. Whether for risotto, paella, sushi, or pilaf, you need a certain kind of rice. You really should pay attention to choosing the rice. Only a short-grain variety is suitable. I think the best one is Bomba rice. Unlike risotto, the rice should not be stirred at all. We need a delicate but not creamy texture.

What to add first, water or rice? Both are correct. In paella Valenciana (a traditional paella native to Valencia with rabbit, duck, or chicken), the rice is never sautéed in oil; first, water or broth is poured into the vegetable and meat mixture and allowed to reduce by half. Then the rice is added. In other recipes for mixed paella or paella with seafood, the rice is sautéed in oil with the vegetables and meat and only then water or broth is added.

Sofrito. After roasting the chicken and pancetta, prepare the sofrito. It’s a flavorful mixture of onions, garlic, and tomatoes. Stir the vegetables while cooking them so they don’t burn.

Broth or water? In this recipe, we use dark chicken meat on the bone. The broth comes out on its own, so we only add water. If you are making paella with only seafood, use prepared chicken broth or make a quick light seafood broth while the sofrito roasts. Simply fry the shells and heads of shrimp or langoustines, pour in some wine, evaporate it, pour in water and simmer for 20 minutes. Wine will make the taste softer and more distinguished.

When to Cover Paella? Cover the paella at the very end, 5 minutes before the end of cooking. Foil is ideal for this. Cover the entire surface of the rice tightly and press around the edges with a spoon. At this time, all excess water has already been absorbed, but the rice is still a little hard. Now that crust, el socarrat, is forming. Therefore, increase the heat slightly.

Paella ingredients and substitutions. What else you can make paella with?

  • Saffron is traditionally used for cooking, but safflower or Imeretian saffron (marigold) can be used as substitutes.
  • You can replace the fresh tomatoes with canned diced tomatoes.
  • You can also add other vegetables, like sweet peppers, some green peas, or green beans.
  • Chorizo – for more flavor, just roast before the vegetables.
  • Just a seafood paella. Shrimp, squid, mussels. You can even add pre-cooked octopus.
  • Chicken and seafood paella or only prawn paella.
  • Mussels clams paella. Wash the mussels and clams well and fry with a little wine in a separate pan until they are open. Then add along with the shrimp.
  • Whitefish. Cut the fish fillets into small pieces and add them along with the shrimp.

What to serve with paella? Paella is considered a complete dish itself. But for starters, you can serve some sheep cheese, olives and fried Padron peppers.

How to reheat paella? Do not reheat it in the microwave. You can reheat paella in a frying pan, over low heat, covered. Or use the oven. Warm up at 150°C / 300°F. Cover the paella with foil. Stir occasionally.

What to drink with paella? What wine goes with paella? Choose Spanish wines. Our chicken and shrimp paella is best paired with white wine made from chardonnay, verdejo, albarino, or sauvignon blanc grapes works well. Another interesting option is Cava. White wine sangria is great too, especially if you’re hosting a Spanish-style party.

Shrimp and Chicken Paella


Shrimp and Chicken Paella
Shrimp and Chicken Paella
5 minutes 40 minutes 2 servings

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)

  • 180 g (6½ oz, 1 cup) paella rice (bomba rice)
  • 12-16 in-shell shrimps without the head (250 g, 9 oz)
  • 350 g (12 oz) chicken legs and/or wings
  • 40 g (1½ oz) sliced pancetta or bacon
  • 1 onion (100 g, 3½ oz)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tomato (200 g, 7 oz)
  • 450 ml (15 fl oz) water (or chicken broth)
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1 pinch smoked paprika
  • 1 pinch chili flakes
  • 4 tbsp frying oil
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz) dry white wine (optional)
  • Lemon for serving


  1. Pour 1 tbsp hot water over the saffron.
  2. Thinly slice the pancetta, garlic and parsley. Dice the tomatoes.
  1. Coarsely chop the chicken into large chunks. Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a skillet. Add the chicken, pancetta and a couple of pinches of salt. Fry until golden, about 8 minutes.
  1. Add another 1 tbsp vegetable oil and add the chopped onions to the chicken. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are soft.
  2. Add the thinly sliced garlic, turn the heat down to low. Fry for 1 minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes to the pan along with the paprika and chili. Increase the heat again and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes.
  4. Sprinkle in the rice. Cook, stirring for about 1 minute.
  5. Pour in the water and saffron liquid. Bring to a boil and salt. Cook for 20 minutes over low heat. Do not stir!
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the shrimp. Using scissors along the back, cut the carapace and remove the vein. Place the shrimp on a paper towel. Blot the top.
  1. Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a clean skillet. Add a couple pinches of salt and lay out the shrimp in 1 layer. Sauté on both sides over high heat. Pour in the wine and stir.

You can skip this step about sautéing the shrimp and just place the raw shrimp in the rice, pressing them in lightly. But you get extra flavor by sautéing them.

  1. Place the sautéed shrimp in the paella and press them into the rice. Cover tightly with two layers of foil, increase the heat slightly. Now that crust, el socarrat, is forming. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  1. Remove from the heat and let stand for another 5 minutes. Add the finely chopped parsley and stir. Serve with a slice of lemon.

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I'm Alona Bogdanova – cookbooks writer from Ukraine. I create and photograph gourmet, approachable and exciting recipes for every day.

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