Seafood Paella for Father’s Day

Eating with my father was often an enjoyable process.  Sunday night we would charcoal steaks on our grill. Weekend breakfasts often included waffles or sometimes kippers and herring with sautéed onions. And the local delicatessen sold delicious corned beef sandwiches on bagels with mustard that we all enjoyed. When I got older my dad often invited me to join him on business trips that often included memorable meals.

Years later when I began to travel on business my father joined me as I did with him. One of our favorite trips was to Barcelona, located along the Mediterranean Sea, and known for its special paella dishes. We both enjoyed ourselves immensely even after we realized that the waiters were betting on dad’s slow style of eating and how long he would take to finish his meal.

Dad didn’t understand Spanish dialects, but I helped interpret. He merely smiled and continued eating. The paella was so delicious that we returned the next evening. He ordered the same sausage and chicken dish. I had paella with cuttlefish and calamari.

Dad has been gone for more than 20 years now, but I will never forget being with him, feeling the warm evening breezes and watching the waves and the multi-colored fishing boats bobbing up and down on the water.

Seafood Paella  for Father’s Day                                                                                 5 to 6 Servings                                                                                     

½ cup vegetable oil
2 cups Arborio Rice
8 cups chicken stock plus 1-2 more cups
1 large onion, diced

1 cup frozen green peas
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 can plum tomatoes, 24 oz.
½ can tomato paste

12 oz frozen medium shrimp, thawed, peeled and deveined
6 fresh clams
6 fresh mussels
2 squid cleaned and cut into rounds
½ cup fresh parsley, rough chopped
2 tbsp fresh marjoram
1 tsp thyme
½ tsp smoked paprika
2 pinches saffron, soaking in ½ cup boiling water
1 lemon, quartered

1. Sauté the diced onion, peas, garlic and strips of red pepper until soft in 2 Tbsp of oil. Add the diced tomatoes and juice and tomato paste.

2. Add the remaining oil and heat at medium; then add the rice for 3 minutes until all is coated and toasted with oil. Leave in the skillet.

3. Add the saffron liquid and strands of saffron to the rice. Bring it to a boil.

4. Add a hot ladle of chicken stock to the same pan, stirring gently until stock evaporates. Continue the same process until all stock is absorbed by the rice.

5. Add the clams, mussels and calamari to the skillet and cover for 30 to 40 minutes. Don’t stir. Test the rice again. If necessary, add 1 to 2 more cups of stock until shellfish is open, squid is done.

6. When the rice on top of the skillet is al dente, remove the paella from the heat, arrange shrimp on top of the rice mixture, cover and cook 3-4 minutes or until shrimp are done. Remove the paella from the heat.

7. The rice on the bottom of the skillet will have formed a crust. This is tasty. The Spanish call it “socarrat.” Don’t stir. This is a delicacy. Use a spatula to release the socarrat to include with each serving. Garnish with lemon.

Please send comments, questions and observations of interest to Chef Alan Zox at [email protected].

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