Paella is probably the best known Spanish food the world over. Originally cooked on an open fire, it has numerous local versions and variations. If you’re wondering how to make paella, it’s not hard, and it makes a great family lunch, as well as an intriguing main course for your party. We’ll share key paella secrets, as well as some useful tips and easy recipes below.
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Paella is rice cooked with meat or seafood and vegetables, often high in protein. The unique way it is cooked ensures that the rice absorbs the flavor from the meat and spices, creating a crust at the bottom of the pan. The recipes of traditional Valencian paella are relatively strict. Deviating from the standard ingredients is possible and will probably also result in delicious rice dishes, but these variations aren’t real paella, according to Spanish tradition.
Traditional paella (paella valenciana) contains the following ingredients: rice, chicken, rabbit, snails, beans, and Valencian butter beans (garrofón). Nowadays, there are also several variations. Seafood paella (paella de marisco) is made with rice, seafood, saffron, and other spices. There’s also a mixed variant made with chicken and seafood. Paella is often flavored with saffron, thyme, smoked paprika, turmeric, garlic, and rosemary.
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Paella was originally a Valencian farmer’s food. Rice has been grown in Spain since its introduction by the Moors in the 8th century AD. This made it a common Spanish farmer’s food. Easy to cook, it could be made in one big pan and shared within a family or group of laborers. The best rice for paella is called the bomba rice. It’s short-grained and absorbs flavor without going soft as quickly as normal rice.
While it’s unknown who invented paella, it’s likely that it was a group invention, traceable to the farmers and laborers in the region of Valencia. The first paella recipe appears in the writings of Josep Orri in the 18th century.
If you’re wondering, how to make paella the traditional way, you’ll need to begin with finding the right pan to cook it in. Traditional paella pans are very large, as they are meant for cooking over an open fire. If you don’t have space for such a pan, the important thing to remember is that the pan you choose should be flat, large, and heat evenly. You first add the meat, cooking until it’s browned on all sides, then the vegetables and spices, and finally the rice. The paella forms a crisp underlayer of rice, called the soccarat. It’s very delicious and a crucial part of the dish.
There are several significant points to remember when cooking paella. These paella tips will help you make a delicious dish that you can eat with family and friends. They’ll likely ask for second helpings, so make sure to prepare plenty!
Real paella does not include many ingredients that go into other rice dishes. Some of these include onions, peas, mushrooms, carrots, and chorizo. While all good combinations with rice, these aren’t part of the traditional paella recipes.
Unlike risotto, paella is not supposed to be sticky. Each grain of rice should be slightly golden and separate from the others.
Whatever you do, don’t stir the rice! Stirring it will only make the rice mushier, and it interferes with the way it absorbs the flavor. If the rice starts getting burned, lower the heat or add a bit of water. The only steps where you can stir the ingredients are before you add the rice - when you’re preparing the meat or frying the vegetables.
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Keeping the above paella tips in mind, try some of the recipes below, and see if your friends and family can resist this tempting Spanish treat!
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A: Paella is called after the big pan it is cooked in. Traditionally, paella is eaten directly from the pan, with everyone seated around it and each person using their own spoon.
A: The three most popular paella recipes are as follows:
A: While paella contains lots of minerals and nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy, it is also rich in carbs and fats. Like most Mediterranean food, it is considered balanced and good for your health. Perhaps the most important health tip here would be not to overeat, which can be difficult since paella is so delicious.
A: There are many different combinations that go well with paella depending on how filling you want the meal to be. You could serve tapas (Spanish snacks served with drinks) before the paella, or simply slice some fresh bread to help gather the remaining sauce. Salads also go well with paella.
A: No, it’s best not to rinse the paella rice because the extra layer of starch protects the rice from getting too soft during cooking.
A: Traditional paella doesn’t contain onions, as they may make the meal a bit soggy. If you want to add some, it would be considered a different type of rice dish (called arroces) by the Spanish.
Paella is one of the most recognizable and spectacular of the traditional Mediterranean recipes. Originally an outdoor meal, paella retains its festive and friendly mood, making it a dinner party favorite. Making paella isn’t that difficult if you know the principles behind the preparation of this awesome rice dish Try it yourself and impress your friends with a delectable Valencian meal!