How to Cook Paella, A Filipino Recipe



In line with our theme of Filipino celebrations, Chef Mike posted a Paella Negra Stuffed Squid with Cream Sauce Aligue, just the sound of those words coming out of my orifices turns me on. So I am obliged to make a Filipino Paella Recipe. Here are the things that you need to inject your brain before we continue:

1. This recipe will be mostly based on the readily available ingredients for Paella in the Filipino Market. So if you’re thinking that we will add Thyme later, you are dreaming.

2. Although I told you in number 1 that we will use Filipino ingredients only, I take my word back because I will be using real saffron. The one that I had a picture with in the previous post here.

3. We will not use a Paellera (a pan that is usually used to cook Spanish Paella). It is expensive and I don’t see a point (as of the moment) buying one pan that can be only used for one dish. I am not rich and dumb yet. But hopefully, I’ll get there. I’m excited to say “Duh! I have money!”.

4. Paella and Arroz Valenciana is different. You use rice in Paella and you use sticky rice in Arroz Valenciana.

5. I will screw up at the end of this post because I used real saffron. So read on to witness my impending destruction.


Ingredients for your Filipino Paella recipe

5 cups of cooked rice. Yes, we are going to pre-cook  our rice because cooking rice in a wok are only done by people with really really really high IQ.

5 really really really ripe tomatoes

1 really really really huge-as Spanish onion (alright I’ll stop with the really really really)

1 chopped red chili pepper

A head of garlic

half a cup of vegetable oil.

1/2 kilo of skinned and cubed chicken thighs. Be sure all the water is drained from the chicken after you wash it.

1 huge longganiza or chorizo. Clue, you can’t get it from your boyfriend.

1/2 kilo of raw monster-big prawns

1/2 a kilo of any combination of fish fillets, cubed. In this recipe, I used salmon and swordfish. Be sure you use fish that can hold its integrity. Tuna fillets are good contestants.

1/2 a kilo of mussels or green shells.

300 grams of squid or calamari. You can cut it any way you like as long as you clean and cut it. And when did it happen that we can only make rings out of them?

1 cup of chicken stock, or dissolve a chicken cube in a cup of water, or a cup of water. I prefer home-cooked chicken stock. Read here.

1 cup of green peas, preferably sweet peas

1 whole green bell pepper

1 teaspoon of orange-coloring. In this recipe I am a saffron-using-idiot. If you can’t get saffron, you can get that orange coloring that is also used for Arroz Valenciana. You can even add a little bit of paprika which is always available in your friendly cash-grabbing supermarket.

3 bay leaves crushed and torn into pieces like the plight of those Filipino Telenovela protagonists

A very wide and deep wok. They are cheap to buy. Just visit your local wet market and haggle. If you have a small wok, where are you going to cook kilos and kilos of these ingredients then?

Big and small containers because we will be cooking batches. Do not start cooking unless they are prepared. Do the scout salute.



How to Cook your Filipino Paella

1. Chop your tomaotes, Spanish onion, chili peppers and all your garlic cloves. Put them in separate containers. You don’t want the juices of the tomato to touch your chopped garlic. Heat up your wok and put all your oil in. Now saute your garlic in low heat. Watch out, right after it has turned golden brown, scoop it out of the wok and into your readily available container. Save that for later. As long as our oil is garlic-infused, it will be awesome. Turn up the heat to medium. Now drop in your onions, chorizo or longganisa and chicken. Wait for them to turn a little bit brown and then drop in only 3/4 of your chopped tomatoes but all your chopped red chili pepper. Cover it for 2-3 minutes until those tomatoes have given up all their juices for the cause. And then pour in your chicken stock and cover again until it boils.

2. Boiling? Crank the heat up and wait until the stock turns into a saucy consistency. Once it’s saucy, drop all your seafood in baby. Every 30 seconds you need to turn all the ingredients over and over to make sure that everything is cooked evenly. Is it crowded in the wok already? Wait till we put in your 5 cups of rice then you can panic. Alright, the seafood should only be in the wok for 3-4 minutes, so you should be turning and turning them. But be gentle, you don’t want to scar your fish cubes. Once everything has changed in color, all luminance gone from the fish, prawns turned orange and squid cuts have turned all-white and textured-up and all the mussels have opened, take everything off the wok except for the sauce. If after you’ve transfered them to your container and if the container has juices in it, pour those juices back in the wok. By then that thick sauce that we had a while ago has turned thin again because of all the juices of seafood that we’ve added. Add your coloring. If you are using saffron, you should have let them simmered in that cup of chicken stock 2 hours ago before you started cooking so the color and flavor will be released to the chicken stock. But if you are an idiot like me, you forgot about it, so you dropped your saffron in the wok hoping it will color the dish but wouldn’t. If you are not using saffron, then your coloring will do the job in a fraction of time. Wait for that stock in the wok to turn really thick, down to half a cup. You only need half a cup of very thick sauce for 5 cups of rice. You don’t want your rice to turn into porridge. And just like what Chef Mike said, “It’s just like making Sinangag!” That’s Filipino fried rice for you white-boy.



3. Thick to half a cup already? Taste it. If it lacks salt you know what to do. If it’s just salty, that’s ok because that will still be distributed to your 5 cups of rice. Put all your rice in if it’s thick-ready. Add your peas and bay leaves in as well. Mix, turn and scrape until everything is covered with that yellowish fantastic color. When they are colored evenly, drop in your seafood and mix. Remember you still have tomatoes left and green bell peppers? Just put them on top of your steaming Filipino Paella recipe and cover the wok. Cover. What we’re doing right now is for the flavors to meld and for that Paella “tutong” to form. Tutong is the overcooked and toasted rice on the bottom of the pot. A bonafide Filipino will join in a fistfight just to get this stuff. That will take 2-3 minutes in high heat. Take the cover off and sprinkle your toasted garlic pieces.

4. Serve on the wok. Do not even try to take your Filipino Paella off the wok. It would be barbaric not to serve Filipino Paella on a wok.

But here’s a picture of it on a plate.



My Paella did not have the desired color because again, I screwed up on using real saffron. What an ignoramus. I failed. I hope you won’t.






Author: Ziggy

Ziggy grew up in the "dirty kitchen" of his grandmother. Literally. He would spend his pre-school days watching her cook crazy Filipino food. His love for food set him up in a journey through the kitchens of the Philippines to chef-swearing laden restaurants of Melbourne where he has worked mainly as a dishwasher, stockist, searcher of missing ingredients, deep frier of everything, arranger of antipasti on a supposed to be chopping board, kitchen cart surfer, emergency pastry chef, take-the-pans-we're-on-a-ciggy-break, chefs' cook of take home food, salad scientist and quite a number of mundane everyday things in the kitchen. Are you still reading this? He has quit that 1pm to 3am job now that he has learned to write. thus this site came to existence.

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  1. Paella must be one of the hardest dishes I’ve ever come across. I must whip my kitchen slave (a.k.a. husband) to cook this for me one day. But first we must find 5 really really really ripe tomatoes 😀 Seriously, thanks for sharing this recipe

  2. hahaha yup. really really really ripe tomato. It’s not that hard actually. you just have to take time. and lounge while you’re at it. :) kudos to the slave.. este the husband

  3. i will really really really try it this weekend

  4. I’ll cook this during our noche buena. I think we will really really enjoy this Paella and for the record I really really had fun reading the recipe despite my low IQ (meaning, I will use pre-cooked rice also). Kudos!

  5. yummy!!! i really really really love to cook your paella recipe, and i want this very bloodly (squid blood heheheeee… i will not use saffron).

  6. yeah that tutong is worth fighting for man, i’ll try doing this paella of yours pinoy na pinoy ika nga. it seems to me paella is hard to cook but when you mentioned the tutong natakam ako bro…..thanks

  7. Thanks! This is the best paella recipe I’ve found so far. It may seem really really really hard to cook but you presented it in a very entertaining way.:) It’s gonna be one major major experiment in the kitchen for me for this coming Christmas eve.

  8. ok i will try it for my husbands birthday this saturday. i love paella but dont know how to cook it. this one looks delicious. thank you and more power

  9. It’s really really really very engaging! I will try this on a weekend since i figured that it will need a really really longer time to prepare.

  10. for the coloring,i suggest to use turmeric and ur paella will really really look so delicious!!!

  11. the chef’s wit and humor infused in the instruction seems paella cooking a walk in the park. I will try this this . thank you

  12. thanks for the recipe. I think I can cook this. I will post after I am done, but i know this will be good. thanks for the recipe. i really really enjoy it.

  13. i really really like reading it! sooo hard to find really really really ripe tomatoes and really really huge onion.. hehehheeheheh i will try this really hehehe

  14. I’ve never laugh this much reading a recipe..LOL!!! will see how we goes with this 😉

  15. I’m really really really cooking this recipe this coming valentine’s day for my asawa.. :)

    Thanks this recipe is great! :)

  16. I really enjoyed reading your recipe. Very hilariously delivered! Hahaha! Anyway, don’t worry about the color since it’ll end up in your tummy naman 😀 But I’m curious about that metal-like substance in your photo… it looks like a graphite…. (pun-intended)

  17. I disagree with you that investing in a paellera is not worth it. On the contrary it is cheap than most stainless steel or non-stick cookware. Besides, cooking paella in a paellera will give you more flavour than cooking it in a wok. You also don’t pre-cook the rice since the essence of a good tasting paella is in the socarrat or what we call as tutong in tagalog. This socarrat can only be achieved if you cook the raw rice in the pan (weather its a paellera ora wide skillet). Cooking paella in a wok defeats this purpose since the finished product is thick in terms of volume rather than thin as what a paella should be

    If you can afford to cook paella with real saffron which is very expensive then investing in a cheap paellera is simply worth it.

    Are you sure you used real saffron? Seems like safflower to me. These two are completely different. Saffron will give you a bright yellow color while safflower give a yellow orange like color.

  18. This should come out really really realy super really yummy !

  19. can I use achuete? (I think that’s how you spell it) for orange coloring instead of saffron?

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