When you think of Hispanic food, chances are good that the foods you think of –ceviche, tamales, empanadas — are all recetas that have their origins in the Latin American countries of the New World. However, what about those recipes that came from what the Romans referred to as “Hispania?” Spain, like Mexico, Peru, and other Latin American nations, has a long, proud history of Hispanic food.
Of all Hispanic foods that Spain is known for, paella is undoubtedly the most famous. As written on the Kitchen Project, paella represents the perfect fusion of Spain’s most influential cultures — the Romans and North African Arabs. The paella pan, something like a Chinese-style wok, was brought over with the Romans, but the rice, unarguably the central ingredient to paella, is a gift from Arabic cultures. (Note: Don’t worry about the pan. You can make a great paella in a saucepan)
Mixing rice with fresh seafood and region-specific herbs, the Spanish have created a dish that is known around the world. Today, we’re going to show you how to make this gem of Hispanic food, whether you’re looking for something warm and filling to eat with your family or you need something great for a dinner party.
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 3 cups sofrito, available premade at many Hispanic food markets
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 6 oz. chorizo sausage, cubed
- 1 cup rice
- 2 roma tomatoes, finely chopped
- 2 habanero peppers, seeded and diced
- 4 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 and 1/2 pound sea scallops, fresh
- 1/2 pound shrimp, 41-50 count size, shelled
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan until it becomes fragrant, and add the onions and chorizo.
- Once the onions have begun turning translucent, add the sofrito. When it begins to simmer, add the rice, tomatoes, habaneros, and tomato paste. Make sure to constantly stir the rice. You want to toast it, but you certainly don’t want to burn it.
- Add the chicken stock, and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Cook the paella for 30 minutes, just until the rice is tender.
- Stir in the scallops and shrimp, allowing the dish to cook for five minutes.
- Place the pan in the center of your table, and allow your guests to serve themselves in the Spanish style.
You’ll notice that instead of using bell peppers and fresh garlic, we went with a premade sofrito, or Spanish tomato sauce. This is just to cut down on the prep for the recipe. Further, we chose to go with smaller shrimp than is generally called for; the sweetness of smaller shrimp work better for this dish.
Keep in mind, this is the type of paella that you can find around the Mediterranean coast — Barcelona, Montserrat, and places like that. However, just like many other Hispanic foods, this dish varies based on where you are. Like the Spanish, you can tweak this recipe to fit your ingredients, making a delicious dish for your family or guests to enjoy. More on this topic.