There’s something special about making paella from scratch. Using high-quality, authentic ingredients truly brings out the best in this traditional Spanish dish.
Paella, known for its satisfying mix of rice, proteins, vegetables, and spices, creates a flavorful dish like no other. We’ll dive into the basics of making an exceptional paella, from choosing the ideal pan to selecting the perfect ingredients.
What is in Paella?
Originating from Spain’s Valencian region, paella has a rich ingredient list. At its core, paella traditionally includes Bomba rice, a specific short-grain variety known for its exceptional ability to absorb flavors while maintaining a firm texture.
Proteins typically range from rabbit and chicken to snails and various types of seafood, depending on the version of the dish you’re making. Vegetables, including tomatoes, beans, and bell peppers, add a fresh element to the hearty dish.
Spices such as saffron, paprika, and garlic are added to enhance their flavor profile. All these ingredients are expertly combined and cooked in a special pan called a ‘paellera.’
With its distinctive wide and shallow design, a paella pan is essential for cooking authentic paella. This design enables the rice to cook evenly, forming a crispy bottom layer known as ‘socarrat’ – a hallmark of authentic paella. Unlike many other pans, traditional paella pans do not have lids, as the dish needs to evaporate excess moisture to concentrate its flavors.
Cleaning a paella pan is straightforward. After use, rinse with water, use a soft sponge if necessary, dry thoroughly, and coat with a thin layer of oil to prevent rusting.
When choosing rice for paella, Bomba rice is often the top pick. It’s celebrated for its absorption properties and the firmness it retains during cooking. Another suitable alternative is Calasparra rice. For a better understanding of the ideal rice types for paella, we recommend checking out our ‘Best Rice for Paella’ blog!
Sea salt is the preferred choice for paella, but there are other options like Saffron for the golden hue and a unique flavor. Some cooks use food coloring as a substitute, but it lacks the distinct saffron taste.
Other spices that enhance the richness of paella include paprika and garlic. Black pepper and thyme contribute an aromatic layer, and while not traditional, turmeric can add attractive color and a subtle hint of flavor.
Chicken and rabbit are most commonly used in traditional Valencian paella. For seafood variations, shrimp, mussels, and squid are popular. Some Spanish regions even incorporate unique options like snails or duck, offering a twist on the classic dish.
What Vegetables Go Well With Paella?
Fresh tomatoes bring a sweet-tangy note to paella, while garlic and ñora peppers provide a rich, hearty flavor. Both green and white beans are also frequently used, adding contrasting texture to the dish.
What to Serve With Paella
Though paella is a complete meal, it can also be served with a side of crusty bread, perfect for soaking up the flavorful sauce. A light Spanish salad also makes a refreshing side dish. When it comes to beverages, paella pairs well with either sangria or crisp white wine.
If you want to indulge in an authentic paella made from scratch for you, Socarrat restaurant provides an incredible dining experience! You can also enjoy other Spanish dishes, including delicious tapas and refreshing sangria.