Arroz a la Valenciana was a mainstay at family reunions when I was a child. My grandparents prepared it in a huge pan and there was usually more than enough for lunch through dinner. Back then, I really did not understand the difference between arroz a la Valenciana and paella. I thought they were the same dish, and how it was called depended on usage and what one grew up with. How wrong I was. While Spanish paella has arborio rice tinted with saffron threads, Filipino arroz a la Valenciana has glutinous rice colored by either kasubha or annatto seeds. Chicken and sausages often go with the rice.
What’s with the name, anyway? Why not just call the dish paella the day the Spanish do? Arroz a la Valenciana is not an exclusively Filipino term. It is what paella is called in many Latin American countries too including Chile and Nicaragua. Apparently, it is the name given to the local adaptation of Valencia-style paella.
In this recipe for seafood arroz a la Valenciana, the rice is accompanied by shrimps, mussels and salmon. The rice was colored with a mixture of turmeric and paprika.
Seafood Arroz a la Valenciana (Filipino-style Paella)
- 1 and 1/2 cups glutinous rice
- 1/2 kilo mussels
- 1/2 kilo shrimps
- 1/2 kilo salmon fillet
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup onion chopped
- 1 cup tomatoes diced
- 1 cup bell peppers diced
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 and 1/2 cups mussel broth
- patis (fish sauce) to taste
- 1/3 cup sweet peas
- juice of one lemon
- chopped mint leaves or scallions or parsley
- Rinse the rice and place in a bowl. Pour in three cups of water. Soak for at least six hours in the fridge.
- Rinse the mussels. Place in a bowl, cover with water and soak in the fridge until the shells open a bit.
- Rinse the shrimps, cut off the tentacles and place in a bowl. Cover with water and keep in the fridge until needed.
- Rinse the salmon fillet and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into two-inch cubes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Keep in a covered container in the fridge.
- Drain the rice.
- Drain the mussels and pull off the beards.
- Boil one and a half cups of water. Drop the mussels into the boiling water. When the water boils again, scoop out the mussels and cool.
- Strain the mussel broth to remove grits.
- Heat the olive oil and butter in a wide shallow pan. Saute the onion, tomatoes, bell peppers and garlic with the turmeric and paprika.
- Pour in the broth. Season with patis and pepper.
- Stir the rice into the broth. When the broth boils, cover the pan, lower the heat and let the rice cook for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, discard the empty half shells of the mussels.
- Spread the shrimps, mussels, salmon and peas over the rice. Cover the pan and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Drizzle the lemon juice over the cooked seafood arroz a la Valenciana. Sprinkle with chopped mint, parsley or scallions. Serve at once.