• Blue swimmer crab paella (The Chefs' Line)Source: The Chefs' Line

Named after the flat, shallow pan in which it’s cooked (a ‘paella’), the dish is essentially composed of short-grain rice, ‘sofrito’ (an aromatic base), seafood or meat stock which is often imbued with toasted saffron, and any number of vegetables or proteins. The Chefs' Line






Skill level

Average: 3.8 (16 votes)

This recipe uses a homemade stock made flavoured with fennel, but you can substitute a quality store bought stock to save on time. 


  • 2 whole fresh blue swimmer crabs (about 500 g in total)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red capsicum, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 40 ml (¼ cup) white wine
  • pinch saffron threads
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 120 g bomba rice
  • 475 ml fish stock
  • 12 green prawns, peeled with tails intact 
  • Lemon cheeks and parsley leaves, to serve



  • ½ brown onion, coarsely chopped
  • ½ stick celery, coarsely chopped
  • ½ carrot, coarsely chopped
  • ½ fennel bulb, coarsely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 100 ml white wine
  • 70 g sea salt
  • 10 g coriander seed
  • 10 g fennel seed
  • 5 g cardamom pods



  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tbsp)
  • 125 ml (½ cup) vegetable, canola, or light olive oil
  • 125 ml (½ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


For the stock, place all the ingredients in a large saucepan with 2 litres water and bring to the boil over high heat. Drop the crabs into the boiling stock and cook for 2 minutes, then remove and plunge the crabs into a large bowl of iced water to stop the cooking process. Once cool, pull the top shells off the crabs and pick out the gills. Using a cleaver, chop each crab into large pieces.

For the aioli, place the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice and garlic in a blender and blitz together until smooth. With the motor running, gradually add the oils, drop by drop at first and then in a slow steady stream until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper and thin out with a little hot water if necessary. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preheat the oven to 200˚C.

Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof frying pan or paella pan over medium heat. Add the onion, capsicum and garlic and cook until tender. Add the white wine, saffron and smoked paprika and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the alcohol has burned off. Add the rice and stir until well coated and lightly toasted. Add the stock, bring to the boil, then transfer to the oven and bake for 13 minutes. Place the crabs and prawns onto the rice and bake for another 6 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and place on the stove top over high heat to create the burnt crust or “socarrat” on the bottom of the pan.

To serve, scatter the paella with the lemon cheeks and parsley leaves. Squeeze dots of aioli evenly on the paella and serve on a wooden board to make sure the pan doesn’t burn the table.


This recipe is from Series 2 of The Chefs' Line airing weeknights at 6pm on SBS. Episodes will be available after broadcast via SBS On Demand. Join the conversation #TheChefsLine on Instagram @sbsfood, Facebook @SBSFood  and Twitter @SBS_Food. Check out sbs.com.au/thechefsline for episode guides, cuisine lowdowns, recipes and more!