Paella with seafood and chorizo

I read somewhere once that paella was party food. Not in the same way party pies and frankfurters are, but in the sense that when you put a paella dish on the table, its invites a celebratory mood. Indeed it does. I've got my good mate Gavan to thank for getting me onto paella, and the sofrito he shared with me is the key to this recipe ... magic juice. Some recipes integrate the sofrito into the dish. I like this approach because we make enough of it to store in small containers in the freezer (sometimes twice the recipe below), so when the the occasion calls for paella, the preparation effort is drastically reduced. We keep a paella dish in the van, so when we leave home for a decent stint, the sofrito from the freezer comes with us.

Perhaps like no other dish, I was determined to figure out how to cook paella properly, and in particular, how to end up with socarrat, one of the most important parts of an authentic paella, and for me, an indicator that I was getting the hang of it. It took a few goes. I went from burning the bottom, to leaving it too moist. One of the things that helped at home on the gas stove and then also in the van, was using a simmer pad ... 'made all the difference in moderating the heat.

Paella is one of my favourite things to cook, because like few other dishes, the colours, smells and flavours are look-at-me-striking. With good company, like we had last night in the van ... happy days.


about 1.5 hours 


  • paella dish - 30 cm (or fry pan) (Don't forget to oil your dish inside and out once washed to prevent rusting)
  • simmer pad (unless you can get a really low heat on your stove)
  • blender (for sofrito)
  • knife and chopping board


(Makes twice to three times more than you'll need, so reduce accordingly if you'd prefer)
(The original recipe included 1/2 chorizo, but we leave it out so we use the sofrito for vegetarian paella if we want to.)
  • Olive oil (150ml)
  • Sherry vinegar (3 tbsp)
  • Tomatoes (3 large ripe)
  • Eschallots (3)
  • Garlic (4 cloves)
  • Piquillo peppers / capsicum (4/2)
  • Thyme (1/2 bunch)
  • Mint (1/2 bunch)
  • Parsley (1/2 bunch)
  • Coriander (1/2 bunch)
  • Chives (1 bunch)
  • Saffron (1tsp)
  • Sweet paprika (1tsp)
  • Spicy paprika (1tsp)
  • Smoked paprika (1tsp)
  • oil (few glugs)
  • onion (1 x diced)
  • ½ red capsicum, chopped
  • 1¼ cup bomba (paella) rice
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 2 x chorizo sausages
  • 1 cup sofrito (see above)
  • 500g good quality marinara mix (or select your own)
  • 8 x large (green / uncooked) prawns or 12 x regular size (shelled)
  • ⅔ cup (frozen) peas
  • ½ lemon cut into wedges
  • handful of chopped continental parsley

  1. Make the sofrito by blending all the ingredients together (or take it out of the freezer!)
  2. In the paella dish (without the simmer pad, or over medium heat), add some oil and sauté the chorizo and chop (slices or half slices) Retain the juice in the pan and set the chorizo aside.
  3. Add the onion and capsicum to the pan and cook until translucent
  4. Add the rice and cook for 4-5 mins. (ensure there is enough oil to coat the rice, if not add a glug of olive oil and heat before adding rice
  5. Add the sofrito and mix well
  6. Return the chorizo to the pan and mix in
  7. Add the marinara mix / seafood and heat through
  8. Fill the dish full with (heated) chicken stock, ensuring everything is submerged (if not, you've got too much in the pan, so remove some) Bring to a slow simmer.
  9. Put the simmer pad under the dish to reduce the heat.
  10. Lay the prawns on the top of the mixture, then leave. Do not stir, in fact, do not touch - it's not risotto! 
  11. Move the dish around over the heat ensuring all parts of the paella get cooked
  12. Once the liquid has almost evaporated, check that the rice is cooked and sprinkle the peas over the top. They will cook from the steam.
  13. Use a fork to check the liquid level, and turn up the heat if needed at the end to help form the socarrat, taking care not to burn it.
  14. Turn off the heat, arrange lemon wedges around the dish and garnish with a generous amount of parsley.
  15. Make sure everyone can reach the paella dish ... it is meant for sharing.
Happy paella cooking


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