The Perfect Paella Recipe for Summer

If you like sampling Spanish dishes abroad as much as us we do, then you’ll love this delicious and authentic paella recipe from Ibiza-based cook Tess Prince.

By Tess Prince

I’ve discovered the Holy Grail of the perfect paella recipe thanks to a magic ingredient – authentic Sofrito, a wonderful aromatic blend of gently sautéed onions, garlic, plum tomatoes, saffron, dried nora peppers, smoked paprika but most surprisingly… chicken livers. It’s simmered slowly for hours then passed through a fine sieve, and classic Sofrito is a linchpin of Spanish cookery – it gives the most incredible depth of flavour and robust richness that is unlike any other paella on the planet. So if you’ve got the time to cook from scratch it’s worth the effort.

Other Paella Tips & Essentials

Short-grain rice is critical for any paella – preferably Spanish bomba, such as La Fayera. Unlike making risotto, stirring is absolutely forbidden. Resist the urge.

Meanwhile, perfectly fresh seafood, shellfish, chicken or rabbit are mandatory and the other essential ingredient is the stock that rice is cooked in. If you can go to the trouble of making one specially, using prawn heads, fish bones, fennel, tomato and brandy, all the better. It’s a labour of love but delivers pure paella nirvana.

Is there a perfect time to eat paella? Author of “Classic Spanish Cooking”, Elisabeth Luard says: “Rice dishes are traditionally only served at midday. Valencians, the rice experts of Spain, maintain that anyone eating paella in the evening is either a tourist, or a native being polite to a tourist.”

Furthermore…”to be truly worthy of the name, the dish must always be prepared and eaten in the open air”. We stayed true to Paella lore and ticked all the boxes when we filmed our paella episode for Love Food Ibiza.

Watch the video from Episode 1 at or read on for the recipe…


The perfect paella recipe for summer

Serves 6 – 8

Sofrito Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 10 chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 3 chopped small dried Nora peppers
  • 250g chicken livers (optional – leave out for veggies)
  • 2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika
  • handful of chopped parsley
  • pinch of saffron
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of sugar

For the Paella

  • 5-6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 8 langoustines
  • 12 large raw tiger prawns
  • 250g large fresh mussels, cleaned
  • 200g fresh calamari – cleaned and chopped
  • 300 large fresh clams, cleaned
  • 1½ green peppers, seeded and chopped into 1cm pieces
  • 400g tin/carton of passata
  • 4-6 cooked chicken thighs (bones removed and chopped into chunks)
  • 400g of Sofrito sauce
  • 600g short-grain paella rice
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of loosely packed saffron strands
  • 2 litres of good quality fish stock
  • Handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • Lemon wedges to serve


The perfect paella recipe for summer

For the Sofrito (this can be made in advance)

  1. Put the tomatoes in a bowl of boiling water for 3 minutes; peel and discard the skins.
    Heat olive oil and add the onion, sugar and salt. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions become golden brown.
  2. Stir in the garlic, chopped chicken livers for a couple of minutes, then add Nora peppers, smoked paprika, parsley, saffron and cook for another 30 minutes on medium heat. Sauce is done when it deepens in colour and oil separates out.
  3. Puree with a blender, or pass through a fine sieve and season to taste with salt. Keeps in fridge for a week, freezes for three months.

For the Paella

  1. Place a 50-60 cm paella pan over a burner, if you have one, (or place on 2 cooking rings on a hub) Add the oil and heat until smoking hot. Add the langoustines, prawns, mussels and clams and fry for 6–8 minutes until everything cooks evenly and the mussels and clams open (discard any closed ones). Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Add the calamari and green peppers and fry for 5 minutes until the peppers are just softened and the squid becomes white and opaque.
  3. Pour in the passata and cooked chicken and thoroughly stir, pour in the Sofrito sauce and scatter over the fresh parsley.
  4. Now return all the cooked seafood to the pan apart from the clams, carefully placing the langoustines on the top in a symmetrical design. Gently pour over the fish stock and add the paella rice and 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to the boil.
  5. Leave to simmer vigorously for 6 minutes over a medium-high heat, but do not stir, remembering to give the pan a turn every 2 minutes. Then reduce the heat to medium and leave to cook for a further 14 minutes, again without stirring, by which time all the liquid will have been absorbed and the surface of the rice should be pitted with small holes.
  6. Turn off the heat, cover the pan with a clean tea towel and leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm straight from the pan with lots of lemon wedges, bread and aioli – if, like me, you love it.

And there you have it! A delicious paella recipe that will definitely impress your friends and family.


Jenny - Editor

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