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Column: Yummm...

Angeles Fernandez

ˇ La Paella !

by guest writer, Ángeles Fernández

“Paella” - Rice… and Your Imagination!


Rice… and Your Imagination!

This traditional Spanish recipe has now gone global!

In my country, Spain, the paella is enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. But the true uniqueness of the paella lies in its preparation — Not only does it vary from one Spanish region to another, but also from cook to cook!

Even though it's such a popular recipe, there appears to be no clear ideas about the origin of the "paella"...

Some people think its name comes from the Arabic term "baqiyah", meaning "leftovers" (food left after every meal that, by the end of the week, were cooked all together). Other versions declare its origin comes from Latin "patella", meaning "pan". Finally, the purists think it originates from the Catalán/Valenciano word "paella", or "pan" in English.

What a lot of theories! Well, as far as we Spaniards are concerned, the "true" paella was born in Valencia... and Valencia's paella is the undisputed QUEEN!

As I mentioned earlier, every woman (and man) has a personal recipe — The main ingredient is rice but the rest is up to one's imagination!

Variants include "paella de pescado" (fish paella), "paella de marisco" (seafood paella) or "paella de carne" (meat paella). This last option may include either rabbit or chicken — My favorites are the fish & seafood versions which is why I love to use ingredients like conger, clams, crayfish, mussels or squid in my paella dishes.

And now, let's go to the kitchen! I'm going to share my own family's special Paella recipe...



  • ˝ onion (medium size) - thinly sliced
  • 1-2 green peppers - chopped
  • 1 tomato - diced
  • Salt
  • Saffron - Saffron can be expensive so you can substitute it with a similar product called "colorante para paella" (paella coloring) to give your paella a rich yellow color

A quick note about your frying pan: The bigger the diameter it has, the better!

[ Serves 3-4 people ]

  • 1 coffee cup of rice per person + add an extra coffee cup to the total
  • 1-2 slices conger
  • 150g prawns
  • 200g squid - cut into rings or thinly sliced
  • 400g mussels
  • 200g clams
  • 1-2 crayfish per person (depending on size)
  • Peas
  • Red peppers - roasted and sliced

  • Olive oil - How much oil? Enough to cover the base of the frying pan (This oil will be used to fry onion & peppers, and all the rest of ingredients later)



Ok, first thing to do: Put the oil to heat in the frying pan. When it is hot (but not too hot), add the onion slices, chopped green pepper and diced tomato — Remember, the oil doesn't have to be very hot as we want all these ingredients to fry on low heat. That way, when the onion has a transparent appearance, it will be ready.

Meanwhile, put the clams in water, and add some salt so they get clean. We also have to clean the mussels & prawns.

Cook the heads of prawns and reserve the broth.

When the fried onion & pepper are ready, add the clams (do not add the water!), mussels, prawns, squid, crayfish and conger — Fry all until clams & mussels open.

Add some salt — I add one pinch of salt per person, plus one more, but it all depends on your personal preference.

Then, add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon - so that the rice also gets fried and absorbs the flavors of all the ingredients. But be careful not to let it "toast".

Next, add some "paella coloring" or saffron and stir.

Now it is time to add the broth (hot but not boiling) and some extra water if needed — Liquid should completely cover the ingredients. Let it cook over low heat.

VERY IMPORTANT: Don't stir from this moment on!

When 50% of the broth is remaining, add some peas and the slices of roasted red pepper.

After the paella has been cooking at low heat for some 20-25 minutes (depending on the diameter of your frying pan), remove it from the heat.

This next step is also VERY IMPORTANT: Cover the paella in the frying pan with a dry, clean kitchen cloth for about 5 minutes.

ˇTachán!… Our paella is ready! You can decorate it with some lemon slices. And enjoy it while it's hot, cold paella is not as tasteful!

ˇBuen provecho!

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About the author:
Ángeles Fernández was born and lives in Spain. Her passion is teaching Spanish to students from all around the world. And thanks to the Internet, this big window to the world, Ángeles has been teaching Spanish online for more than seven years. She is also the Spanish Language editor at Ángeles is "in love" with her country, its customs, gastronomy and history.

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