Asian Paella

Classic dishes, new flavors.

A big pot of Asian Paella ready to be enjoyed!

That’s what I’m going for today with this super-duper tasty Asian Paella. I took the classic Spanish dish that I have for some reason been so intimidated to make and gave it my own Asian spin, and I am in LOVE with the result. I make a pretty darn good paella for an amateur, if I do say so myself 😉


Let’s talk for a second about that intimidation factor. I know I’ve said it before, but have you ever come across a dish that you’d die to be able to make on your own, yet that fear of the unknown holds you back? What if said dish takes an insanely long time to make? Or has some crazy involved technique that you have no idea how to do? Well, after forcing myself to tackle things like this Homemade Matcha Pasta and this Whisky Gravlax, I’m very happy to report that this is rarely (if ever) the case. I’m always amazed at how easy something ends up being after I’ve been so afraid to tackle it for so long!

So if there’s one lesson I want you to walk away with by reading this post (besides how to make an insanely delicious Asian Paella,) it’s that the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in the kitchen are hardly ever so at all, so get in there and give a new dish or technique a shot. You’ll not only broaden your “foodie” horizons, but you’ll also both impress anyone you’re cooking for and help them feel more empowered to get in the kitchen on their own and make something out of the norm.

Up-close photo of the most delicious Asian Paella you've ever tasted!

Okay, enough preaching! Let’s talk about this Asian Paella. I first came up with this idea after the hubs and I had a date night at a fairly new Spanish restaurant here in Santa Barbara called Loquita. They have a huge selection of authentic tapas and main courses, and everything is served family-style so you pretty much have no choice but to share. Did I mention they also make amazing cocktails?

When the hubs and I went there, we decided to keep it fairly simple with just a couple of tapas and one order of paella, which really is enough to serve at least four people (but whoever complained about a few leftovers?) As I started tasting all of the different flavors in the dish – chorizo, chicken, fresh mushrooms and veggies – I realized that I could easily swap in some of my favorite Asian ingredients to give this classic dish a new twist.

I used the popular Chinese sausage lap cheong in lieu of the chorizo, and decided to go with easy-to-cook shrimp instead of the chicken. I also made sure to grab shiitake mushrooms and fresh snow peas along with the usual tomatoes and bell peppers.

All of the ingredients for delicious Asian Paella thrown into one big paella pan over the grill.

Because I was already using so many strong Asian flavors (namely the lap cheong and the shiitake mushrooms) I decided to keep the seasonings of the paella traditional, using smoked paprika and saffron. Be sure to use SMOKED paprika (which you can easily find at any grocery store, including Trader Joe’s) as it will help impart the delicious smoky flavor that will make your paella taste like you’ve been cooking it over open coals all day, rather than the gas grill I recommend using here. Also, if you’re hesitant to make the minor investment in very-expensive saffron, don’t be! As you can see from this recipe, a little bit really goes a long way so it will last you a while.

As far as the cooking process, I used my trusty Gourmet Today cookbook as my guide and followed their suggested technique of cooking the paella in an oven-proof paella pan (or wok, in my case) over a gas grill. Aside from the appliance that you cook the dishes on, from there the process is much like that of making risotto, if you’ve ever ventured into that territory.

You cook the proteins first (here, that means the shrimp and the lap cheong) and then add most of the vegetables. After those ingredients have gotten a good head start on cooking, you add the rice and then the chicken broth, stirring occasionally until the rice has soaked up nearly all of the broth and other delicious seasonings.

The protein, vegetables and broth for Asian Paella set to simmering before adding in the rice.

Asian Paella simmers over the grill, waiting for all of the delicious broth to be absorbed by the rice.

One other quick note RE: the rice. I did not use the traditional Bomba rice that most paella recipes call for, simply because I was too lazy to track some down and already had some sushi rice on hand, which still worked wonderfully! The only thing I did notice was that it got mushier the longer the paella sat, because it continued to soak up any sort of liquid that was left in the pan. This shouldn’t be an issue if you’re serving your Asian Paella hot off the grill (which is THE best way, I might add) but perhaps stop the cooking process a little bit earlier (before all of the liquid is completely absorbed) if you’re planning on reheating the dish to serve later.

The recipe technique I followed in Gourmet said the entire cooking process would take about two hours, and they were spot on. If you ask me, that’s not too intimidating and means that this recipe is still totally doable for any night of the week when you need to serve a crowd.

Asian Paella for humpday dinner, anyone?

This post contains affiliate links. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that make CaliGirl Cooking possible!

A big pot of Asian Paella ready to be enjoyed!
Print
Asian Paella
Prep Time
50 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs 10 mins
Total Time
2 hr
 

The classic Spanish dish gets an oriental flair with the use of lap cheong, shiitake mushrooms, fresh snow peas and so much more!

Course: Main Course
Servings: 6 people
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled
  • 1/2 of a lemon
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning shrimp plus 1 teaspoon salt for paella
  • 1/2 pound lap cheong, sliced
  • 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 ounces sugar snap peas, cut in half diagonally
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
  • 3 cups sushi rice
Instructions
  1. In a large, oven-proof paella pan or wok, heat the olive oil over a gas grill set to medium-high heat. 

  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the shrimp and juice of ½ a lemon and season with salt and pepper. Add shrimp to heated paella pan and cook a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until shrimp begins to turn pink and opaque. Add the lap cheong and continue to cook until shrimp looks mostly cooked through.

  3. Move shrimp and lap cheong to the edge of the pan and add mushrooms, snap peas and bell peppers to the center. Cook these vegetables, stirring every so often, for about 4 minutes.

  4. Add tomatoes, garlic and one teaspoon salt to mixture in center of pan and stir until slightly thickened, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle with smoked paprika and cook, without stirring, for one minute before stirring the proteins on the edges of the pan back into the mixture. Stir in stock and saffron.

  5. Turn grill heat to high, cover the grill with a lid, and bring the mixture to a boil. This may take up to 20 minutes depending on your grill. Once mixture is boiling, turn heat back to medium-high and sprinkle rice evenly into the pan. Stir until all rice grains are submerged.

  6. Cook for 10 minutes, stir, and then stir. Turn heat down to medium and cook for 10-15 minutes more, stirring at 5-minute intervals, until liquid is absorbed and rice is al dente.

  7. Using potholders, carefully remove pan from the grill and let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

(Affiliate) links for special ingredients:

Asian Paella | CaliGirlCooking.com

Butternut Squash, Bacon and Goat Cheese Spanish Tortilla

Because it was just too good not to share.

Butternut Squash, Bacon and Goat Cheese Spanish Tortilla | CaliGirlCooking.com

This Butternut Squash, Bacon and Goat Cheese Spanish Tortilla has been on repeat in our house lately and, since I’ve made it so many times that I practically know the recipe like the back of my hand, I figured it deserved a solid mention.


As you may or may not know, I also have a culinary consulting business in addition to this here blog, Celebrations by CaliGirl Cooking. One of my clients from the very beginning has been the hotel I used to work at, and I bring baked goods and other treats in for them for various meetings, birthday parties, etc.

Right before Thanksgiving, I brought in this Butternut Squash, Bacon and Goat Cheese Spanish Tortilla for one of their meetings. Later that day, my phone was blowing up with text messages from my old coworkers saying how much they loved it. So I decided I had to make it again! (And again, and again.)

Butternut Squash, Bacon and Goat Cheese Spanish Tortilla | CaliGirlCooking.com

This recipe is a riff off of my Smoked Salmon and Fresh Herb Spanish Tortilla that I made a while back, but this time utilizing some of the best fall produce. Spanish tortillas traditionally use potatoes as their starchy base, but since I had an abundance of squash hanging around, I decided I’d give sliced butternut squash a shot. I’m so glad I did! It cooked up just beautifully, and feels even a little bit lighter than the starchier potatoes would.

We all know that goat cheese is a natural pairing for butternut squash, and for the fresh herbs I reached for fresh sage (the “it” herb of the season) plus a little bit of fresh thyme. For protein, I decided the salty crunch of applewood smoked bacon would be the perfect contrast to the sweet butternut squash and rich, tangy goat cheese.

I LOVE Spanish tortillas because they hold together just as well as any quiche would, yet you don’t have to worry about the hassle of making a crust (or the extra calories!) With a good nonstick pan, this tortilla will slide out easily onto a serving platter to be easily dished up for any weekend breakfast (or dinner, for that matter.)

Butternut Squash, Bacon and Goat Cheese Spanish Tortilla | CaliGirlCooking.com

Butternut Squash, Bacon and Goat Cheese Spanish Tortilla | CaliGirlCooking.com

I also love that this recipe comes together fairly quickly (you can even prep the squash, onions and bacon the night before,) and it holds up incredibly well. I made this a day before we left for our parents’ houses over Thanksgiving, and it was the perfect, easy breakfast to reheat the morning of Turkey Day so we didn’t have to worry about slaving over anything but the big bird we’d be enjoying later that evening. Yes, this Butternut Squash, Bacon and Goat Cheese Spanish Tortilla was a huge hit with everyone, and I’m sure it will be with you and yours as soon as you make it!

Now that the holidays are fully upon us, I know that you’ll have plenty of opportunities to whip up one (or many) of these in the month to come. With a little bit of prep the night before, you can have a hot, well-balanced breakfast on the table for your houseguests in less than 30 minutes, leaving you more time for coffee and meaningful conversation. Because isn’t that the most important part of the this time of year?

Butternut Squash, Bacon and Goat Cheese Spanish Tortilla | CaliGirlCooking.com

Butternut Squash, Bacon and Goat Cheese Spanish Tortilla | CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Butternut Squash, Bacon and Goat Cheese Spanish Tortilla
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

A classic Spanish tortilla with a fall twist, featuring butternut squash instead of potatoes, creamy goat cheese, fresh sage and crispy bacon.

Course: Breakfast
Servings: 6 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 of a medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 8 ounces creamy goat cheese
  • 4 ounces cooked bacon, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh sage and thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Maldon sea salt, for finishing
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add butternut squash and onion and let cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to turn golden and squash has softened to fork tender. 

  2. While squash and onions are cooking, combine all other ingredients (except Maldon sea salt) in a large mixing bowl. Once squash and onions are cooked, add them to the mixing bowl, tossing to coat.

  3. Transfer contents back to the large nonstick saute pan and place back on medium heat. Let cook, without stirring, until mixture begins to set, and doesn’t jiggle too much when you shake the pan. 

  4. Turn broiler on high and place nonstick pan in oven. Broil on high for 5-7 minutes, or until the top of the tortilla becomes fully set and golden-brown. Remove from oven (be sure to use a potholder) and sprinkle with Maldon sea salt. Serve warm.

Butternut Squash, Bacon and Goat Cheese Spanish Tortilla | CaliGirlCooking.com

 

The new definition of golden-delicious!