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How to Make the Best Paella

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A classic of Mediterranean cuisine, paella is a dish that arouses passion. The origin of several legends, this recipe is undoubtedly one of the most popular and representative of Spanish gastronomy. In this post, I will tell you everything you need to know about the history, ingredients, and preparation secrets of paella.

History of paella  

Paella originates from the region of Valencia, on the east coast of Spain. It is believed that the recipe dates back to the time of the Muslim domination of the Iberian Peninsula when the inhabitants of the area cooked rice with rabbit and snails in large flat pans called “paelleras”. The name “paella” comes precisely from this utensil.

Over time, the paella recipe evolved and new ingredients were incorporated. Rice became the main ingredient, to which chicken, seafood, and vegetables were added. Nowadays, paella is a very versatile dish that allows all kinds of combinations.

Paella ingredients  

Although there are many variations of paella, some ingredients are common to all of them. These are:

  • Rice: the most commonly used variety in paella is bomba rice, a short round grain that absorbs the broth well and does not overcook. It is important not to wash the rice before cooking, to prevent it from losing starch. To learn how to make the perfect rice for paella follow this link:
  • Broth: the broth is essential to give flavor and juiciness to the rice. The idea is to prepare it with the heads and shells of the seafood, as well as with chicken bones and vegetables. The broth must be of good quality and be hot at the moment of adding it to the rice.
  • Saffron: this spice is characteristic of paella and gives it an intense yellow color. It is recommended to use saffron in threads, which is infused in the broth before adding it to the rice.
  • Olive oil is used for frying the ingredients and covering the bottom of the paella pan before adding the rice. Good quality extra virgin olive oil is the best choice.
  • Sofrito: the sofrito is a base of onion, garlic, and tomato that is prepared before adding the rice. The sofrito adds flavor and texture to the paella.

In addition to these basic ingredients, paella can have all kinds of meats (chicken, rabbit, pork, etc.), seafood (shrimp, mussels, squid, etc.), and vegetables (green beans, peppers, tomatoes, etc.).

Paella preparation secrets  

Preparing a good paella may take time and patience, but the end result is well worth the effort. Below, we will provide you with some secrets to make your paella a success:

  • The first secret to preparing a perfect paella is to have a suitable paella pan or paellera. This should be large and flat so that the rice is in an even layer and cooks evenly. In addition, it is important that the paella pan is made of steel or cast iron, as these materials are excellent heat conductors and allow the rice to cook evenly.
  • Saffron is a fundamental ingredient in paella, as it gives the paella its characteristic yellow color and unique flavor. It is recommended to use saffron threads, which are infused in the broth before adding them to the rice.
  • It is also important to use good quality extra virgin olive oil, which is used for frying the ingredients and covering the bottom of the paella pan before adding the rice.
  • The cooking time of each ingredient should be taken into account, adding them at the right time so that they cook evenly.
  • It is important to avoid moving the rice while cooking, as this can break the grains and ruin the final texture of the paella. Instead, it is recommended to gently shake the paella pan from time to time so that the rice is evenly distributed.
  • Finally, it is essential to let the paella rest for a few minutes before serving. This helps the rice to settle and the flavors to concentrate.

By following these secrets and tips, you will be on your way to preparing a delicious paella. ¡Buen provecho!

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