When you think of Spain you think of great weather, spectacular scenery and of course, amazing food. And when you think of food in Spain there’s really only one dish that sums up all the wonders of Spanish cuisine: paella.
The recipe for this iconic dish of rice, meat, seafood and vegetables dates back hundreds of years, and while no-one can really say exactly where its origin lies, it was clearly born from the amazing fresh produce found all across Spain.
There are many versions of Paella
There are many, many versions of this classic dish and no two Spaniards will ever agree on what constitutes a classic paella, but one thing is for certain, it’s a true taste of Spain. There are a few things that unite all paellas however.
Rice of course, a good short or medium grain rice such as Bomba rice is generally accepted as a must for a good paella. There will usually be a sofrito of some sort, a mixture of vegetables such as onions or peppers, and garlic to give the dish a good flavour base. There’s a good chance you’ll find some tomatoes and saffron somewhere in there too.
After that you will find little agreement. A classic Valencian paella will have chicken or rabbit and for an authentic version, possibly snails, perhaps alongside some green beans and maybe some finely sliced celery. A seafood paella might include fat pink prawns from the Mediterranean, mussels and squid or cuttlefish.
The key is often to use the ingredients that can found nearby; fresh and local is always best. Another fundamental part of creating the perfect paella is the pan. It may seem surprising to set so much store by the container you use to put all the wonderful ingredients in, but to cook a good paella it really matters.
A paella pan must be wide and shallow, allowing you to keep the heat low and to make sure that the rice can cook evenly, the liquid evaporating fast enough to ensure the meat or seafood don’t overcook.
You can even purchase specially made paella burners now, to ensure an even heat and a perfect result, invaluable if you’re going to be cooking paella often. And once you taste this amazing dish that so reflects the beauty of Spain, there’s no doubt that you will!