Purple Corn Peruvian Paella

Purple Corn Peruvian Paella

Purple Corn Peruvian Paella

One of my favorite traditions is to cook a Paella for my Mom on her birthday, and last Sunday for Mother’s Day, I was inspired to do the same. But this time, instead of using Spanish saffron and a tomato based sofrito, I wanted to make the Paella taste uniquely Peruvian. In other words, I wanted to use ingredients that truly conveyed the colors and flavors of Peru — I wanted to cook a seafood Paella with Peruvian purple corn and aji amarillo.

So the first thing I did Sunday morning, after having my cafe con leche of course, was to ride my bike to Bi-Rite Market on 18th Street and pick up some shrimp, mussels, and fresh flowers. I had already prepared some purple corn elixir the night before, so all I had to do was cook the rice, prepare the sofrito, sauté the shrimp, steam the mussels, and put it all together in a dish that quite possibly has never been cooked before.

After arranging the flowers in a vase and taking a picture for my Mom, I was ready to roll, and like I alway do when cooking a new dish, took notes, tasted, adjusted, and improvised, all while smiling and thinking of my Mom. Presenting, a dish that combines the smoky spiciness of aji amarillo, the earthy color and flavor of purple corn, and the fresh taste of the sea — a Purple Corn Peruvian Paella for Mother’s Day.

  • 2 cups long grain white rice
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups chicha morada elixir
  • 12 shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 lime
  • 12 mussels
  • 1 cup fish stock
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon aji amarillo
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, cut into quarters

In addition to the ingredients above, you’ll need a large skillet between 10″-13″ for the paella, a pot with lid to cook the rice, and a pan with lid to steam the mussels.

  1. Clean, peel, and devein the shrimp. Season the shrimp with salt and a few drops of lime juice, set aside. Clean the mussels and discard any that are open.
  2. Mince the garlic, chop the onion, and prepare the fish stock.
  3. Cook the rice in a pot, partially covered.
  4. Sauté the shrimp in a skillet, remove from skillet when done.
  5. Steam the mussels in a pan, partially covered. Remove from pan when done, discard any mussels that didn’t open, and reserve the cooking stock.
  6. Prepare the sofrito in the same skillet that was used for the shrimp.
  7. Mix about 3-4 cups of the cooked rice with the sofrito in the skillet.
  8. Arrange the shrimp and mussels over the rice in the skillet.
  9. Pour about 1/4 cup of the reserved stock over the paella, and heat for a few minutes.
  10. Serve warm and garnish with fresh parsley, cilantro, and a few drops of fresh lime juice.

4 servings.


Plan to repare the chicha morada elixir a day or two ahead of time. To steam the rice, first sauté the garlic with oil, then add the rice, previously washed, and then add the liquid, in this case purple corn elixir. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce to a simmer once the liquid has reduced to the same level as the rice. Turn off heat when the rice is cooked and the liquid has been completely reduced or absorbed. For convenience, you can use a bouillon fish stock, but reserve the fish stock with the butter and wine that was used to cook the mussels, as it will be used to moisten the paella before serving.