Paella Valenciana, A Spanish Classic

Because you love me and voted for me, I made it to round 2 in  Project Food Blog 2010! Cheers! 🙂

For this challenge, we are asked to tackle a classic dish from another culture.

I initially wanted to tackle something Filipino as my way of helping propagate Filipino cuisine into the culinary mainstream. However, I’m bound by the challenge rules to pick out something from a different culture. I also wanted to  try something Asian, like Japanese or Vietnamese, but I feel that either is still within my comfort zone.

After a little soul-searching, I finally decided that I will do something Spanish.

The Spaniards have a lot of influences to the Philippines because we were colonized for more than a hundred years. Spanish cuisine is one of those influences but up until now, it is still largely new to most of us. Truth is, we have this notion that Spanish cuisine is for the elite and that we can only experience it if we go to a specialty fine-dining restaurant.

I thought of a lot of Spanish dishes like callos or lengua estofada, but I was drawn to making Paella Valenciana because it is a complete dish in itself, very flavorful, and is always a visual feast when laid down on the table.

I read somewhere that paella (pronounced as pa-e-yah) was originally a laborers’ meal and it’s quite surprising to note that because paella is expensive to order in a restaurant! Also, I learned that in Valencia, making paella was a local pride and that every mother claims to make the best paella in the land.

I hope I can claim that too 🙂 But for now, here’s my spin on Paella Valenciana, a dish that’s true to it’s Spanish flavors but infused with a Filipino twist.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 kilo chicken, cut into small pieces
  • juice from 3 pieces of calamansi (a Filipino citrus fruit)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 kilo cooked ham
  • 315 grams chorizo de bilbao
  • 2 pieces red bell pepper, one piece diced, the other piece cut into strips
  • 2 pieces green bell pepper, one piece diced, the other piece cut into strips
  • 1/2 kilo medium-sized shrimps
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 3 cups Calrose or Jasmine rice
  • 6 cups of stock (made from the heads of the shrimps)
  • a pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Spanish paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon wedges
  • 1 hard-boiled egg

You can also add mussels, clams, or squid.

In a bowl, mix together about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, paprika, oregano, and a dash of salt and pepper. Add in calamansi juice. Stir in the chicken pieces to coat. Cover then refrigerate.

In a paella pan, pour in the olive oil and heat. Sear the chicken pieces until they turn brown. Put them on the circular edge of the pan as you make way in the center for the rest of the ingredients. Drop the chopped onions and garlic. Saute until they’re tender. Add in the ham, chorizo, bell pepper, and green peas. Stir well.

Next add the tomato sauce. Put in rice and stock keeping the 1:2 (cups) ratio, and mix well. Reduce heat to low and simmer everything while stirring occasionally for 25 minutes. Add the saffron threads and shrimps but do not put all the shrimps in. Set aside some for garnishing. Check  the rice once in a while to see if you need to add more stock. Stir each time and make sure that the rice isn’t sticking to the pan.

When the rice is cooked, arrange the shrimps you set aside and and the strips of bell pepper. Cover and cook until the shrimps are done. Serve with lemon wedges and slices of hard-boiled eggs.

The paella was delicious and very filling. My hubby and parents love it and they actually asked me to prepare it for our Christmas Noche Buena! 🙂

More than the cooking part though, I enjoyed sourcing the ingredients and equipment. I spent the afternoon looking for a good but reasonable paella pan. Fortunately, I got one from a kitchen warehouse near our place 🙂 In fact, I almost wasn’t able to cook it in time for dinner because I just wanted to stay in the warehouse and browse through shelves and racks of all the kitchen stuff I can think of.

At the end of the day, I’m thankful that Foodbuzz thought of this challenge. I enjoyed every aspect of doing it – from researching about Spanish cuisine, to studying and taking tips on how make a good paella, to buying the ingredients and the pan, and of course, to food-blogging about it. All in all, it’s a memorable challenge because I would never have been encouraged to create a paella this soon were it not for Project Food Blog.

I hope this post has inspired you to get out of your comfort zones and try some dishes that are unfamiliar to you 🙂 Til next challenge! *fingers crossed*

*This is my official entry to Project Food Blog 2010 challenge #2. Please follow me on my journey to being the next food blog star. To vote, please click HERE or click on my Project Food Blog 2010 profile below. Same drill as with Challenge #1 but in case you’re new, you will be asked to register to vote. It’s really easy and will not take more than 5 minutes of your time. So what are you waiting for? Click away! 🙂

VOTE FOR ME! VOTING IS OPEN FROM SEPTEMBER 27 UNTIL SEPTEMBER 30!

**This dish made it to the daily top 9 on September 27 but was taken out because I was still a contestant to PFB2010. Really proud of this paella!

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46 thoughts on “Paella Valenciana, A Spanish Classic

  1. January says:

    this dish may not have been good to get me to round 3 but your comments and compliments are really inspiring 🙂 thank you all! and congrats to those who made it! will be rooting for yah

  2. Leslie @ Chomp! says:

    i want to eat this right now!
    I LOVE SPANISH CUISINE. when i was there i ate my way through the country, but really didn’t get to experience enough of their seafood dishes since my co-traveler was allergic.
    i’ll be making this one day- it seems like something i could do!
    i’ll be voting 🙂

    • January says:

      thank you all for your words of encouragement 🙂 i’m really glad to have hit two birds with one stone 🙂 this is my entry for PFB2010 and it also is in today’s top 9 yihee!

  3. molly says:

    Your paella looks fantastic! I’m envious of your paella pan – dying to get one myself so I can make one just like yours 🙂
    Good luck in round two!
    Molly x

  4. Jackie says:

    Jan, I absolute LOVE that you’ve made a paella. I toyed with the idea myself briefly, but Spain is my second home (weird coming from a Chinese Brit, I know) and Spanish cooking is too much within my comfort zone! It would actually be more outside of my realm of cooking to tackle a Chinese dish than a Spanish one!

    But you’ve done an amazing job with this. It’s beautiful and looks totally delicious. Glad we’ve stumbled upon one another 😀 Good luck in this round and here’s to round #3!

    Jax x

  5. Karen says:

    This paella looks fantastic! I love all the flavors. Great dish!
    And I know what you mean about being able to spend all day in a kitchen store. It’s easy to do!

  6. sophia says:

    Where is the pitch-fork? Can I just dig in, please? YUM! I’ve never actually tried paella before…I’ll never be too afraid to try it though, it just looks scrumptious!

  7. gingerbreadcake says:

    I may be biased because I’m Spanish but your dish looks absolutely delicious!!! Your did a fantastic job with the paella and the pictures of it are beautiful. I’m so hungry for paella now. YUM! Good luck, you’re going to do great. 🙂 And congrats on making it through to the 2nd round.

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