Something you should know about paella
I have been raised mostly all my life in Spain, in Madrid mainly. But I lived in Valencia when I was a child and, also my father comes from Alicante. Alicante and Valencia belong to Comunidad Valenciana (also called Valencia, I know it’s a bit messy…) which ends up to be *the* official paella region of Spain. Yes it is. If you want to try authentic paella, that’s where you have to go first. You will not only find wonderful paellas but also sun, sea, everything is lovely there.
My life has kind of a bound with this dish. Seriously. My grandma, (mother if my father) makes the best paella I have ever tasted. Eventhough she is from Andalusia, she has been living half of her life in Alicante so she learnt how to make a great paella. Moreover, most of my summer holidays have been spent there, in Alicante’s beach. Always eating as much paella as I could. See how I am related to paella? ;)
FACTS about paella:
In case you wonder, I do have my grandma’s paella recipe pending to make here. But just so you know, paella is a big deal for a spanish home cook. Getting to make a good paella is a great step when you start cooking spanish food. Let’s say that for most mothers I know, it took them a little while to get their own perfect version of paella when they got married (now marriages and cooking are not related like that anymore).
Paella is very popular around the world. In fact, some of you in Twitter confesed me paella is your favourite spanish dish. I agree. It is in my top 10, too. If I were you, I’d like to try anything that I see with the name paella on it, but the truth is, not everything is. When I was living in England, I saw a lot of paella names in menus, fresh food markets, etc. The truth is that I used to run to them, happy to eat paella so far away from home. It it was so disappointing. I stopped running to those so called paellas. They weren’t paellas. They used to be a mix of chorizo, rice and shrimps. Paella doesn’t contain any chorizo. If it has chorizo in it, believe it is not paella. Sorry! It can be another dishes, but not paella.
That being said, it doesn’t mean paella can’t be cooked without meat. Paella is not only made of sea food, it can also be of vegetables and chicken. Actually, you can also find paella mixta (mixed paella), which means that has some sea food but also vegetables and chicken (it’s the most common one). There are a lot of varieties of paella. I tried a lot of them. I never get tired of eating paella. But I have never eaten paella with chorizo in 27 years. It could have chicken, but not chorizo. Do it for me, but don’t order paellas with chorizo.
As I told you, paella is typically from Valencia, we love paella also in Madrid and in other regions of Spain too.
You may find interesting to know that if you go to an average (nothing fancy) restaurant of Madrid on any given Thursday, it is very likely that you will find paella in the “Menu del Día” (dishes of the day). If you find yourself in this Thursday situation, you will also find croquetas (I will also show them to you soon) in that menu as a second, and I suggest you to order them too ;)
Outside Valencia, paella is a very popular dish too. There are a few differences between non-valencian paellas. For instance, in Madrid, Andalusia and Castilla La-Mancha the rice grain a bit overcooked compared to al dente rice grain in Valencia. In addition to that, it has always been said that valencian paella is unique due to valencian tapped water. This water has a different chemical composition than rest of regions in Spain because of its location at the seaside.
FACTS about cooking paella:
The paella you see in these pictures is my first sea food paella cooked here in The Netherlands. It was nice, but it has to be improved with a little more practice.
Important things about cooking paella are stock and rice. Rice should be short grain as bomba or arborio varieties. Regarding stock, you will use fumet (fish stock) for sea food paella and preferably chicken stock for paella mixta or chicken paella. A note for veggies: nowadays, meatless paella is not as weird as it used to be. However, my grandma would ask you where’s chicken ;) I will try to make meatless paella for you too!
The characteristic bright yellow color of paella is supposed to come from saffron in the old times. Even Somebody told me that he remembers sticks of saffron, I don’t (I just remember the fine saffron threads). Nowadays paella is better if it has saffron in it, but its color doesn’t have anything to do with saffron but coloring podwer.
Any questions about paella?
Any thoughts about this post? Any comments will highly be appreciated!!
Have you ever cooked paella? which kind?