The season for sensational seafood

Mixed seafood paella.
Mixed seafood paella.

SEAFOOD is now considered by many to be the most sensible - and enjoyable - ingredient for a stinking hot Australian Christmas.

The budget at this time of year often falls a little short of stretching to a platter groaning with crayfish or prawns.

A Spanish paella (pronounced pay-EY-yah) is a great way to put seafood on the table; while prawns, mussels or octopus are an essential ingredient, you can pad it out easily with rice, chicken and chorizo.

For those who hail from Valencia, true home of the paella, I apologise for this rather Australian version which I have developed over the years (because it's relatively simple and quick).

The authentic Bomba rice is hard to find in Australia; use a risotto rice such as Arborio as a substitute.

If you have a paellera, or paella pan, you will find you end up with a superior result, but at a pinch you can use a wok or large frypan.

And please, do use real saffron rather than the powdered colouring sold in supermarkets; the warm inviting aroma and colour is another essential ingredient.


Mixed paella

Serves 6



2 litres hot chicken stock, preferably home made (see note below)

7-8 dried saffron threads

3 tblspn olive oil

150g chorizo (spicy Spanish sausage, available from the deli) sliced

150g pancetta or bacon, diced

1 Spanish (purple) onion, peeled and finely chopped

5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 1/2 tspn smoky paprika

500g Bomba or Arborio rice

150g green beans, cut into 3cm lengths

salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup frozen or fresh peas

12 green king prawns

600g fresh mussels OR 600g baby octopus, cleaned OR two cooked chicken breast fillets, sliced

salt and pepper, to taste

fresh lemon wedges, to serve



Note: If you are using boxed stock, omit salt when seasoning. Stock cubes are not suitable for this dish.

Pour one cup of hot chicken stock over saffron threads and set aside to infuse.

Heat olive oil in a paellera (paella pan), wok or frypan.

Brown chorizo and pancetta over medium heat.

Add onion and garlic, reduce heat and cook until soft, stirring constantly.

Add paprika, rice, beans and the cup of saffron-infused stock; season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

Add remaining stock, peas, prawns and mussels or octopus if using. Place a lid on the pan and cook over medium heat for a further ten minutes.

When seafood is cooked, add cooked chicken if using.

Serve immediately with lemon wedges.


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Topics:  cooking easy eating food lifestyle recipes seafood

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