Pronounced “Pa-yeah-ya” (easy on the middle syllable), Paella, is a traditional Valencian dish, although you will find Paella served all over Spain, from Barcelona to Seville to A Coruna, and naturally, given to variations according to region and cook!
Valencia is Spain’s 3rd largest city behind Barcelona and Madrid, and is situated on the Spanish east coast. It’s a beautiful city and you can read more about it, as well as enjoy some amazing photos on this post written by Lisa of the blog Italian Kiwi.
I’ve been to Spain many a time, more often than not, off the beaten track, away from the tourist spots. A holiday to me, is about culture and food, not necessarily in that order. I have had paella in more Spanish towns than I can remember, even a very spicy one close to the Morrocan border! While they differed in certain bits of their composition, the one thing they all had in common was the method of cooking and I think that’s what makes the dish what it is.
The word paella is a Catalan word that comes from the Old French word paelle for pan, and which in turn comes from the Latin word patella, also meaning pan.
According to Wiki: (I suggest you read this page, very interesting reading)
Valencians use the word paella for all pans, including the specialized shallow pan used for cooking paellas. However, in most other parts of Spain and throughout Latin America, the term paellera is more commonly used for this pan, though both terms are correct, as stated by the Royal Spanish Academy, the body responsible for regulating the Spanish language in Spain. Paelleras are traditionally round, shallow and made of polished steel with two handles.
So now that we know about the pans, let’s move on to the recipe!
To me, paella is a very adaptable and very forgiving recipe; use the right rice, paprika, soffrito and saffron and you’ve got the perfect base for your creativity!
How to Cook Paella at Home
Use the right rice – Spanish paella rice is short, round and absorbs liquid very well while still maintaining its integrity (shape and texture). The most common paella rice is Bomba but there are also Bahia, Balilla, Senia, and Calasparra.
We all know that paella is cooked in a paella (pan), see above. The idea behind the shape of the pan and its width is that as much rice hits the bottom of the pan as possible to get maximum, almost caramelised flavour and to ensure that the rice cooks in an even thin layer. If you cannot get a paella pan, go for the shallowest frying pan you can get. Just remember, the bigger the pan, the larger your flame source has to be too!
A Good Stock
Homemade is best we all know, but I understand that that’s not always viable, so the alternative is a good shop bought one, which these days, is very, very easy to find. My favourite is chicken stock, even if I’m making a seafood paella, as I find seafood stock overpowering, but that’s a matter of choice. The stock is yet another layer of flavour to the whole dish, so is very, very important, no nasty added stuff, please!
My Paella Recipe
I make paella very, very often as the whole family loves it, so much so, it’s become one of those recipes that we just “throw things” into! You know, whatever happens to be at hand, so sometimes it’s just chicken, sometimes it’s chicken and sausages, or seafood and sausages, you get the idea!
Dd I say an adaptable recipe? That’s right, make it vegetarian if you want but here’s a tip: use pre roasted veggies for added depth of flavour. You know those Italian antipasti you get at delicatessens? Olives, peppers, artichokes? They’re great in a vegetarian paella!
That’s it for the yapping, time to get cooking!
Update, 18th October 2015
We are, once again, in Spain, in part 2 of our 6-8 month travel adventure. Part 1 was a 2-month, 5-city trip that included my niece’s wedding in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Go on over to the Travel page to catch up on that, if you fancy, I’ve still to do Bangkok, Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City.
At the moment, we are living in a little town called Venta Lanuza between Alicante and Valencia, almost in the middle of nowhere! I’ll write about that soon too but this update was just to mention that these are all new photos, and all from Spain. I’m always amazed at how much cheaper and tastier the seafood is here!
Enjoy the recipe!