Paella de marisc (seafood paella)

A taste of the Mediterranean
Bree Hutchins

It’s difficult not be charmed by the Mediterranean – a stretch of water with millennia of history that has shaped cultures and lifestyles that entice countless holiday-makers to flock to its shores every summer.

Lucio Galletto and David Dale have created ‘Coastline’, a cookbook celebrating the deliciously diverse food of the Mediterranean. With stunning imagery, heritage stories, and wonderful recipes, this beautiful book brings a taste of la dolce vita to your own home.


16 raw prawns (shrimp)

Sea salt

150 ml olive oil

8 scampi or crayfish, halved

500 g cuttlefish, cleaned and sliced

24 mussels, scrubbed clean, beards removed

24 clams (vongole)

1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped

1 white onion, finely chopped

1 red capsicum (bell pepper), finely chopped

1 green capsicum (bell pepper), finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 large tomatoes, grated to the skin

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon finely chopped hot red chilli

400 g short-grain white rice

A pinch of saffron threads 

150 g fresh shelled peas

Lemon wedges, to serve

FOR THE FISH STOCK (you can shortcut by buying 1.5 litres commercial fish stock)

1.5 kg clean fish bones and heads

60 ml olive oil

1 leek, pale part only, cut in half; plus a handful of leek leaves (from the top), chopped 

60 ml white wine

1 carrot, cut into chunks

1 white onion, peeled and cut in half

2 celery stalks, with leaves, cut into quarters

5 cherry tomatoes


  • Remove the heads from most of the prawns, and add them to the seafood scraps for the stock (leave a few prawns whole to decorate the pan at the end). 

  • To make the fish stock, wash the fish heads to get rid of any blood. Place a large saucepan over medium heat and splash the olive oil into it. When it’s hot, add the bits of fish and fry them for about 5 minutes, squashing them with a wooden spoon to extract the juices. Add the leek leaves, fry for another minute, then pour in the wine. Stir and let the alcohol evaporate for 3 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables, including the cherry tomatoes, and fill the pan near to the top with cold water.

  • Bring the mixture to the boil, then turn the heat down and let it simmer for at least 45 minutes. Skim any scum off the top. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, squashing some of the soft parts through the sieve with a wooden spoon. Reserve a few cups in a jar in the fridge to serve as an elegant consommé, and place the pan back over low heat until it’s time to add it to the paella.

  • Put a paella pan (or a wide frying pan) over medium heat. When it’s very hot, sprinkle a generous amount of salt over the base of the pan, then add enough olive oil to cover the surface. When it sizzles, brown the scampi and the prawns for 2 minutes each side, take them out and set them aside. Remove most of the scampi and most of the prawns from their shells and discard the shells. Leave a few cooked prawns and a few cooked scampi whole for decoration at the end.

  • Brown the cuttlefish for about 8 minutes, then take it out and put it with the prawns and scampi.

  • Put the mussels and clams in a covered pan with a little water over high heat. Cook them for about 3 minutes, until they start to open. Take most of them out of their shells and put them in the bowl with the prawns and other seafood. Keep a few in their shells for decoration. Discard the empty shells, but strain the liquid they have released into the stock.

  • Add the fennel, onion and capsicums to the paella pan and fry them for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and fry the mixture for 3 minutes more.

  • When the vegetables are soft, push them to the edge of the pan, and in the centre, add the tomatoes, paprika and chilli. Mix them and fry for 3 minutes, then stir the other vegetables through them. Add the browned cuttlefish and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring gently.

  • You have now created the sofregit in which the rice will cook. Scatter the rice around the pan and sprinkle the saffron on top. Stir the rice through the sofregit and let it absorb the flavours for 3 minutes. 

  • Now pour in about 1.25 litres of the warm fish stock. Mix, check to see if there’s enough salt for your taste, then cook for 10 minutes over high heat, shaking the pan occasionally and moving it around over the heat source so the rice cooks evenly. 

  • Add the prawns, the scampi, mussels, clams and the peas. Push them down into the rice without stirring. Try not to contact the bottom of the pan, because a little crust will be forming there. Arrange the prawns, scampi, mussels and clams that are still in their shells artistically over the top. Cook for another 5 minutes over medium heat.

  • Take off the heat, cover with a tea towel and let your paella rest for 5 minutes. 

  • Serve it in the middle of the table with some lemon wedges on the side, for those who like to squeeze it over their food.

Note:  You can’t really mess up paella, as long as your seafood is fresh, your stock is strong and your rice is short. You are aiming to achieve these three qualities: the rice should be slightly firm to the bite (what Italians call al dente); the paella should be moist but not soupy (the correct ratio of rice to stock is one to three); and there should be a little crust of caramelised rice at the bottom, which the Catalans call soccarat.

Extract from Coastline by Lucio Galletto and David Dale (Murdoch Books, RRP $59.99).

Photography by Bree Hutchins

(Credit: Bree Hutchins)

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