A friend we knew from the International House about 8 years ago (in 2003), Mario Llorca, lives in Bella Terra (an upscale suburb of Barcelona) and he invited us (along with Amalia and Swapnil) to his home for a paella feast. We took the regional train and walked to his beautiful house with a hammock in the front and a view filled with trees and houses sprinkled in the green hills. I always wondered how to make a delicious paella de mariscos…and Mario shared with me his recipe that he learned from his mom:
First, you need an iron paella skillet (since he was cooking for 8-9 people, his skillet was so large that it covered all four burners on the stove).
- Add aceite de girasol (vegetable oil) and stir-fry your seafood – a handful of sepia (a type of calamari), calamari, clams, langostinos, and large shrimp – until the shellfish open and the shrimp turn pink.
- Place the seafood aside.
- Finely dice the following vegetables (can be modified based on preferences): onions, red bell peppers, and green beans. Grate a tomato so that only the liquid remains without the skin.
- Heat more aceite and add the vegetables and liquefied tomato into the skillet until the onions brown.
- Then comes the fun part: add in the seafood along with short-grain white rice (he added 1 kg) and double the water (he added 3 milk-size cartons of caldo de pescado). At this point, also add the uncooked mussels. For spices, add bay leaves and salt to taste.
- Let the rice boil at medium heat for 18 minutes and the mussels will cook with the steam (al vapor).
- Right before serving, add a pinch of saffron for color and flavor.