Friday, April 1, 2016

Paella Filipina

Paella was introduced in the Philippines by its Spanish colonizers in the mid 19th century.  It is a popular Valencian rice dish that is consisted of white rice, beans, meat and seafood.  There are three types of paella:  vegetarian paella, seafood paella and mixed paella. The dish is traditionally cooked using a paellera or paella, a round flat pan with two handles.  The original Paella Valenciana uses sticky rice and includes rabbit.  The Paella in the Philippines does not require sticky rice and but uses more seafood.

Paella is served as a main entree in the Philippines and is considered a special meal on chosen celebrations such as Christmas, New Year, Easter and fiestas. The Filipino Paella is usually mixed paella or seafood paella. It is a complex dish that entails several ingredients and multi-step procedure to prepare.  The mixed paella recipe usually calls for seafood and shellfish such as fish, clams, mussels, crabs, shrimp and squid; meat such as pork and chicken; and vegetables such as tomatoes, sweet peppers and sweet peas.


Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cooking Time: 60 minutes
Yield:  8 servings


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon annatto powder (or 1 tablespoon annatto seeds in 3 tablespoons of oil, drained after 15 minutes; use only the oil)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup canned diced tomato (or 3 pieces super ripe tomatoes, chopped)
  • 2-3 cups of shrimp stock, chilled*  (See Notes below)
  • 1 pound pork loin or 4 pieces chicken thighs
  • 2 pieces chorizo or Spanish sausage, sliced thinly
  • 3 pieces crabs, cleaned (optional)
  • 1 pound clams, cleaned
  • 1 pound mussels, cleaned
  • 1 pound shrimp,cleaned 
  • 1/2 pound squid, sliced, tentacles removed
  • 1 pound fish fillet of choice (cod, haddock), sliced
  • 2 cups medium grain rice
  • 1 small package of Spanish saffron (substitute with 2:1 parts paprika and turmeric)*
  • 1 cup sweet peas
  • 1 red / green sweet peppers, sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon for garnishing, cut in wedges


  1. Heat oil in a large frying pan or skillet over medium heat.  Saute the garlic and onion for 3 minutes or until onion is translucent.  
  2. Add annatto, tomato paste and canned tomato and stir to combine.  Cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Add 1 cup of shrimp stock and bring to a soft boil for about 2 minutes.  
  4. Add pork or chicken and chorizo.  Cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add crabs (if using), clams, mussels, shrimp, squid and fish.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until done.

  6. Remove the seafood and meat from the pan leaving the sauce.  
  7. Add rice, chilled shrimp stock and saffron to the pan. Stir in the saffron.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked.  Add water if necessary.*
  8. Add sweet peas and sweet peppers and cook for another 5 minutes.
  9. Put the meat and seafood back in the pan.
  10. Transfer to a serving plate and serve warm.
  11. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

*  To make the shrimp broth:  Cut the heads from the shrimp and boil it in water for 30-45 minutes.
*  Chilling the shrimp broth is important especially in cooking the rice.  Rice grains requires cold liquid to cook properly and to achieve the balanced texture needed for paella.
*  Pre-cooked seafood packages are widely available in grocery stores in the US and definitely makes cooking paella easier and faster.
*  Rice is very critical in paella.  The rice must not be soggy.  It should have a good texture on its own and have the flavors of the sauce incorporated well into it.
*  Paprika is very expensive.  You can substitute the color and flavor with 2 parts paprika and 1 part turmeric.  You won't be able to duplicate the unique and special aroma that it partakes on the dish though.
*  Paella can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days or frozen for up to a month in an airtight container.
*  To reheat paella:  Put in an oven safe dish.  Cover with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Place a pan of water on the bottom shelf of the oven to keep the paella moist and not dry while reheating it.

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