- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds raw extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Coarse salt
- 2 1/4 cups bottled clam juice or fish / seafood broth
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 1/2 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 cup uncooked Spanish Arborio Rice*, unwashed
- 2 tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 teaspoons regular or Spanish smoked paprika
- 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained (optional)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)
- Lemon wedges
* Do not wash the rice, as it needs its outer coating of starch.
Saffron Fun Fact: Court ladies of Henry VIII’s reign tinted their hair with saffron until Henry forbade it; he feared a saffron shortage that might reach his own table.
Preheat oven to 350F
Sprinkle the shelled shrimp all over with coarse salt; let sit 15 minutes. The salt helps bring back the briny taste of the sea that most seafood, especially frozen seafood, tends to lose.
In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat the clam juice or fish broth, wine, and saffron; reduce heat to low and keep broth hot (not boiling).
In a large Paella Pan or heavy cast-iron skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Note: You will need a somewhat deep cooking dish, large cast-iron skillet, or the traditional Paella Pan (a round flat pan with two handles).
Add onion and red bell pepper; stir to blend and cook 3 minutes or until slightly softened.
Remove pan from heat. Stir in garlic and rice and continue stirring until garlic is fragrant and the rice is evenly coated with oil, about 1 minute. Coating the rice with the oil before adding liquid helps keep the rice grains to stay separated.
Stir in tomatoes, paprika, and salt. Stir in hot clam/saffron broth mixture. Return to heat, reduce heat to low, and simmer (stirring and rotating the pan occasionally) mixture 10 to 15 minutes or until rice is no longer soupy but sufficient liquid remains to continue cooking the rice in the oven.
Stir in shrimp, artichoke hearts, and peas.
Transfer paella pan to the oven and cook, uncovered, about 15 to 20 minutes until the rice is almost al dente and until almost all liquid is absorbed.
NOTE: Never cook paella until the rice is completely done. If you do, it will be mushy by the time it reaches the table. Remove from the oven when the rice grains are no longer hard but still have more bite than you want and a crust forms around the edge of the pan.
Take the paella pan out of the oven, cover with foil and let it rest a little while before serving.
To serve, squeeze lemon juice over the top of the paella, sprinkle with chopped parsley and arrange lemon wedges around the top of the paella. Serve immediately. To eat, sprinkle lemon juice over paella.
Tips: Have all ingredients chopped and measured before beginning the final cooking of the paella. It is a quick cooking dish that must have all ingredients ready to go. This is called Mise en Place.
If the paella is almost al dente and ready to be removed from the oven, but still seems to have liquid, return it to the top of the stove over high heat. Without stirring, heat until the liquid has evaporated. Then remove from heat and cover the rice and let it rest before serving.
If the paella seems dry before the rice is almost al dente, sprinkle with a few tablespoons of water and allow to cook in the oven 2 to 3 minutes longer. Then remove from oven and cover the rice and let it rest before serving.