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How to Make Seafood Paella Filipino Style: Unraveling the Secrets

How to Make Seafood Paella Filipino Style: Unraveling the Secrets

Seafood paella is a Spanish dish that has become a staple in Filipino cuisine. It is a flavorful and hearty rice dish that is perfect for special occasions or for a weekend family dinner. If you are looking to impress your guests with a delicious and authentic seafood paella, then look no further.

Making seafood paella Filipino style requires a few essential ingredients and cooking techniques that are unique to the Filipino culture. In this article, we will guide you through the process of making a delicious seafood paella that will transport your taste buds to the Philippines. From selecting the right ingredients to assembling the dish, we will cover everything you need to know to make a perfect seafood paella every time.

Key Takeaways

  • Essential ingredients for Filipino-style seafood paella include saffron, chorizo, and glutinous rice.
  • Cooking techniques such as toasting the rice and using a paellera pan are crucial to achieving the perfect texture and flavor.
  • Assembling the dish requires layering the ingredients and allowing them to cook slowly to develop a rich and complex flavor.

Essential Ingredients for Filipino-Style Seafood Paella

Seafood paella is a classic Spanish dish that has been adapted in many parts of the world, including the Philippines. Filipino-style seafood paella is a delicious and flavourful dish that is perfect for special occasions or family gatherings. To make the perfect Filipino-style seafood paella, you need to have the right ingredients. Here are the essential ingredients that you will need:

Selecting Fresh Seafood

The key to a delicious seafood paella is fresh seafood. You can use a variety of seafood such as mussels, clams, squid, prawns, and fish. When selecting seafood, make sure that they are fresh and of good quality. If possible, buy seafood from a reputable fishmonger or seafood market. Fresh seafood will give your paella a rich and flavourful taste.

Rice and Aromatic Base

The rice and aromatic base are the foundation of any paella dish. For Filipino-style seafood paella, you will need short-grain rice, onions, garlic, and tomatoes. The onions, garlic, and tomatoes are sautéed in olive oil until they are soft and fragrant. This aromatic base adds depth and flavour to the dish. The rice is then added to the pan and cooked until it is slightly toasted.

Seasoning and Spices

To give your Filipino-style seafood paella a burst of flavour, you will need to add seasoning and spices. Saffron is a key ingredient in any paella dish. It gives the rice a beautiful yellow colour and adds a subtle floral flavour. You can also add smoked paprika, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to enhance the flavour of the dish. Other herbs such as parsley and lemon wedges can be used to garnish the dish and add a fresh taste.

Using fresh seafood, aromatic base, and the right seasoning and spices will ensure that your Filipino-style seafood paella is flavourful, fragrant, and delicious.

Cooking Techniques and Equipment

Preparing the Seafood

The key to a delicious Filipino-style seafood paella is the quality of the seafood. Ensure that you buy fresh seafood and clean it thoroughly. You can use a mixture of mussels, clams, and squid, or any seafood that you prefer.

To prepare the mussels and clams, scrub them under running water and remove the beards. Discard any that do not close when tapped. For the squid, remove the head and ink sac, and clean the body and tentacles. Cut the body into rings and set aside.

Perfecting the Rice Texture

The texture of the rice is crucial to a perfect seafood paella. You want the rice to be tender but not mushy. Use a short-grain rice like Arborio or Valencia rice for best results.

To achieve the perfect texture, start by heating the oil in a paella pan and sautéing the onions and garlic until they are soft. Add the rice and stir to coat it with the oil. Next, add the tomato paste and sauté for a few minutes.

Add the water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the rice is almost cooked. At this point, add the seafood and cover the pan. Cook until the seafood is done and the rice is tender.

Managing the Heat

Managing the heat is crucial when cooking seafood paella. You want to cook the rice and seafood evenly without burning it.

To manage the heat, use a paella pan that is the right size for your stove. If the pan is too big, the heat will not be distributed evenly, and the rice may burn. If the pan is too small, the rice will not cook evenly.

Also, use a heat diffuser to ensure that the heat is evenly distributed. This will prevent the rice from burning and ensure that the seafood is cooked evenly.

By following these cooking techniques and using the right equipment, you can make a delicious Filipino-style seafood paella that your family and friends will love.

The Art of Assembling Seafood Paella

Making seafood paella Filipino style is an art that requires precision and attention to detail. Here are some tips to help you assemble the perfect seafood paella:

Layering the Ingredients

Layering the ingredients is crucial to ensuring that the paella is cooked evenly and that each bite is bursting with flavour. Start by spreading the rice evenly across the bottom of the pan. Next, add the seafood, making sure to distribute it evenly across the rice. You can use any variety of seafood for this recipe, but shrimp, mussels, and calamari are popular choices.

After adding the seafood, you can add other ingredients such as onions, garlic, and peppers. Make sure to spread them evenly across the pan. Finally, add the chicken or chorizo on top. This will help infuse the rice with flavour as it cooks.

Garnishing for Flavour and Presentation

Garnishing your seafood paella is an important step to add both flavour and presentation. A sprinkle of fresh parsley or cilantro can add a pop of colour and freshness to the dish. You can also add a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten up the flavours.

For an extra flavour boost, you can add a dollop of aioli or garlic mayonnaise on top of the paella. This will add a creamy, garlicky flavour that complements the seafood and rice perfectly.

In conclusion, assembling seafood paella Filipino style is an art that requires precision and attention to detail. By layering the ingredients and garnishing for flavour and presentation, you can create a delicious and visually appealing dish that will impress your guests.

Frequently Asked Questions

Could you unveil the secret to that rich, vibrant hue in Filipino paella?

The secret to the rich, vibrant hue in Filipino seafood paella is the use of saffron. Saffron is a spice that is derived from the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus flower. It has a deep orange-red colour and a unique flavour that imparts a distinct taste to the dish. To achieve the rich hue, you need to soak the saffron threads in hot water or broth for a few minutes before adding them to the paella.

What type of rice is best suited for creating an authentic Filipino seafood paella?

The best type of rice to use for making an authentic Filipino seafood paella is short-grain rice. Short-grain rice is stickier and has a higher starch content than long-grain rice, which makes it perfect for absorbing the flavours of the seafood, spices and other ingredients in the paella. Arborio rice, which is commonly used in risotto, is a good choice for making paella.

Can you suggest a simple yet delightful Filipino seafood paella recipe for home chefs?

Certainly! Here is a simple yet delightful Filipino seafood paella recipe that you can make at home:


  • 2 cups of short-grain rice
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup of diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of saffron threads
  • 4 cups of fish or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 1 pound of mixed seafood (shrimp, squid, mussels, clams)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large paella pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until softened.
  3. Add the bell peppers and tomatoes and cook until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Add the rice and stir until it is coated with the vegetables and oil.
  5. Add the paprika and saffron threads and stir.
  6. Add the stock and wine and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for 20 minutes.
  8. Add the seafood and cook until the shrimp turn pink and the mussels and clams open.
  9. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Serve hot and enjoy!

This recipe is easy to follow and will surely impress your family and friends.