Despite its many ingredients, a finished paella is all about the rice and the flavor that the other elements impart to it. For that reason, it’s vital to use an actual paella (which is both the name of the dish AND the flat, round stainless-steel pan in which it’s cooked). You want the rice to cook evenly, without clumping, and be exposed to all of the other flavoring agents. Mom’s paella is 17 inches in diameter.
(Although many people include shrimp in their paella, my parents didn’t because I am allergic to it. You can certainly add them—and other kinds of protein—if you like. The only issue to be aware of is the water content of any extra ingredients, which may require you to tinker with the amount of stock you add to the rice.) —Sofia Perez