Wow your people with Bellota's crab paella for your next dinner party
Bellota's crab paella. (Omar Mamoon)

Wow your people with Bellota's crab paella for your next dinner party


A big dish of paella always makes a grand entrance on the dinner table and, at Bellota, that classic Spanish meal really does show off.

The SoMa restaurant serves a few different versions, but it's the sweet Dungeness crab rendition, roasted with chili and garlic and piled atop bacon- and corn- speckled bomba rice, that's really got our attention. If it's not on special at the restaurant, go ahead, try making it at home.

Roasted Chili and Garlic Dungeness Crab Paella

Serves 2-4


Chili garlic sauce

½ cup garlic, minced

½ cup Mediterranean chili paste

½ cup lemon juice

1 cup extra virgin olive oil, Spanish Arbequina olive preferred

½ cup flat leaf parsley, sliced finely

1 tablespoon pimenton, mild

1. Heat the oil on medium heat in a small sauce pot until warm but not smoking.
2. Add the garlic and cook until lightly golden.
3. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice to stop the cooking of the garlic.
4. Place the pot back on the heat for approximately 5 minutes.
5. Add the other ingredients and cook for a few more minutes to bring the ingredients together. Remove from heat and set aside.

Crab paella

1.5 to 2 pounds of fresh cooked crab, partially cracked and top shell removed.

1 cup bomba rice

1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans, canned is a good substitute

1 cup cleaned corn kernels, fresh or frozen

1 cup bacon, cooked and roughly chopped

1/2 cup roasted red peppers strips

¼ cup olive oil

1 each yellow onion, small dice

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoon tomato puree

1 teaspoon pimenton, mild

1 quart premade stock (fish, chicken, or vegetable will all work)

Note: You should use a paella pan for this recipe. A pan that is 11 or 12 inches will work best. If you do not have a paella pan, then a cast iron skillet, or other thick bottomed pan, is a good substitute.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the crab in an oven-safe baking dish with cavity of the crab facing up. Pour the chili-garlic sauce over the crab, evenly coating the exposed meat and cracks in the shell.
2. Place in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, basting the crab every few minutes with a spoon. Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, placing the paella pan on the largest burner, heat the olive oil on medium high.
4. Add the onions and garlic and cook over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent. This should take about 10 minutes.
5. Add the tomato to the pan and continue to cook until the tomato has reduced from a sauce to a paste. (Be careful to not to let the sugars in the tomato caramelize or burn.)
6. Turn the heat to low and add the pimenton and rice by sprinkling evenly over the entire pan. Stir to coat.
7. Once the rice is coated, add the stock and bring to a simmer. Stir for the first 6 minutes, and then add the garbanzo beans, bacon, corn, and red pepper strips.
8.Then, making sure the rice is in an even layer along the bottom of the paella pan, leave on medium heat and do not stir. Cook for 10 minutes on high heat and then 6 minutes on a medium-low heat. (Note: In order to develop the socarrat, or caramelized crust, on the bottom of the pan, you need the bottom of the pan to be dry by the time the rice is cooked.)
9. Once the rice is just cooked and the crust has begun to form, add the crab to the top of the paella. (Collect all the excess chili-garlic sauce and serve this in a separate bowl alongside the paella.)
10. Remove the pan from the stove, place the top shell of the crab back on for presentation, and let the paella rest for a couple of minutes.
11. Serve with garlic aioli and a few slices of lemon.

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