Arroz con Mariscos: The Easy Alternative to Paella


I had the fortune to eat my first real Paella in the place where it was born: Valencia, on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. As a first timer, I was intrigued and also a bit weary. You never know if you are going to like a new food, especially, when everyone who told you about it seems to love it. I had had spurious versions in Vancouver’s Hispanic restaurants and I couldn’t say I was too impressed. My hosts were a nice young couple who had visited me in Vancouver years before. They fell in love with our city (how could they not?) and were more than eager to show me their town and its best expressions. I am not the kind of person who can hide his dislike of a dish or wine. So, I was a bit worried I might pull a face when tasting the Paella Valenciana they were so excited to share with me.

Before going on with the story, let’s say that Valencia claims to be the cradle of Paella. That is, the Paella Marinera (marine) that we all know. Rice, saffron, red pepper, mussels, prawns, chicken, chorizo. However, the original Paella, also originated in Valencia but further inland, is made with rabbit, chicken and rosemary as opposed to saffron. The young Spanish couple had made this for me during their visit in Vancouver and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  In the years to come I tried making Paella Marinera several times. Anyone who has attempted this knows how heartbreaking is to find, after spending good money on seafood and a lot of work and time, that the result is not what one expected. Most stoves do not have the right burner size to heat the paella pot homogeneously. Electric elements don’t respond quickly to temperature changes. It is easy to end up with overcooked rice, lumped in one sticky mass. Or even worse, to have uncooked rice on your plate. Because of that I turned to a Peruvian favorite, Arroz con Mariscos (rice and seafood) that is easier to make and is a tasty substitute to Paella.

THE RECIPE

Start by thawing a bag of seafood mix. Rinse thoroughly with cold tap water. For this amount (approx. 1 lb) chop a medium size onion and a shallot. Sautee in olive oil over medium heat until tender. Add a sprinkle or two of chili flakes and a spoonful of Spanish paprika. Stir well and add the seafood mix. Chop a Roma tomato and add to mix. Pour 1/3 cup of dry white wine, ¼ cup green peas and a bay leaf. Cook in low for 7-10 min. or until seafood is tender. You will know it  is ready because it turns opaque. Remove bay leaf. Meanwhile, cook 2 cups of rice (I normally use rice cooker for convenience). Follow regular water to rice proportions. You can substitute water for fish, chicken or vegetable stock. When rice is almost ready, incorporate to cooked seafood mix and stir. Incorporate 8-12 prawn tails, shell on.  Add half a red bell pepper cut in fine strips on top, cover and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve hot, sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and drops of lemon. This dish is truly enjoyed when paired with a refreshing white wine. Albarino comes to mind, but Fiano, Orvieto or a lean Chardonnay will do well.

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6 Responses to “Arroz con Mariscos: The Easy Alternative to Paella”

  1. Gata Chopada Says:

    “I was a bit worried I might pull a face when tasting the Paella Valenciana they were so excited to share with me”
    Qué heavy que eres.
    Y la paella marinera no lleva chorizo!!
    Resumiendo: que no te atreves con la paella.
    Ja,ja.

  2. Gata Chopada Says:

    Lo mismo digo.

  3. winecouver Says:

    Would add to that a young or unoaked Tempranillo, like the Telmo Rodriguez’ Dehesa Gago

  4. Gata Chopada Says:

    ¡¡Mira lo que encontré!!:
    Esta es la receta idal para guiris. Tiene de paella lo que yo de africana, pero es lo que les gusta a los guiris. Además es lo que te mereces después de haber hecho ese desprecio a mi sobreesfuerzo escribiéndote la receta.

    (El vino no sé, pero el Telmo Rodriguez está de toma pan y moja)

  5. Ness Says:

    Nice and tasty thanks.

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