The quality of the fish stock is important in this dish, which makes this recipe slightly epic to make, but completely worth it.






Skill level

Average: 3.8 (4 votes)


  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red capsicum (bell pepper), finely diced
  • 300 g (10½ oz) firm white fish fillets, such as rock ling, cut into 2–3 cm (¾–1¼ in) chunks
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • sea salt flakes
  • 3 large tomatoes, grated, skins discarded
  • 1 tsp smoked pimentòn
  • 100 g (3½ oz) calamari hoods, cleaned and diced
  • 400 g (14 oz) short-grain rice, such as bomba or calasparra
  • 8 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 4 raw scampi
  • 8 large raw prawns (shrimp), heads and shells reserved for the fish stock
  • 2 lemons, halved, to serve

Fish stock

  • 1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) large fish heads, bones, fins and tails from monkfish, cod or snapper
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped into 8 chunks
  • 1 carrot, chopped into 3 cm (1¼ in) chunks
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste (concentrated purée)
  • 8 large prawn (shrimp) heads and shells
  • 1 tbsp fine sea salt
  • 2 fennel stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 8 white peppercorns
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) dry white wine
  • 3 parsley sprigs
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 2.5 litres (2.5 qts) vegetable stock or water

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.


  1. To make the fish stock, rinse the fish heads, bones, fins and tails under cold running water and remove any blood from the larger spinal bones.
  2. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over high heat and add the onion and carrot. Sauté until starting to colour, then add the tomato paste and prawn heads and shells. When the prawn shells begin to toast, add the remaining stock ingredients, including the cleaned fish carcasses and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and skim off any impurities that rise to the surface. Simmer for 35–40 minutes, until reduced by one-third, then remove from the heat and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve and set aside in a saucepan over low heat.
  3. Heat the oil in a 32–34 cm (12¾–13½ in) paella pan or large frying pan over medium heat.
  4. Add the capsicum and sauté for 8–10 minutes, until soft and the colour has leached out into the oil. Remove the capsicum from the pan and set aside. Add the fish fillets to the pan and cook for 3 minutes on both sides until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt and cook for 8–10 minutes, until completely soft. Add the tomato and pimentòn, then reduce the heat to medium–low and cook, stirring frequently, for 15–20 minutes, until the liquid has all but evaporated. Add the calamari and cook for 5 minutes, then add the rice and stir to coat the grains. Pour in three-quarters of the stock and stir until the mixture comes to the boil. Gently simmer for 10–15 minutes, until the rice is cooked through.
  5. Pour in the remaining stock, bring to the boil, then add the mussels, scampi, reserved fish fillets, capsicum and prawns. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes or until the prawns are cooked through and the mussels have opened. Serve the paella in the pan with the lemon halves for squeezing over.


Recipes and images from Islas: Food of the Spanish Islands by Emma Warren, Smith Street Books, RRP $49.99