Paella – famous delicious Spanish pilaf
The country’s colorful fried rice dish is something no tourist wants to miss, along with salted pork thighs and Sangria cocktails.
Paella in Catalan means “pan”. In fact, this is a mixed fried rice dish with vegetables, meat or seafood. Most international visitors when mentioning Spanish cuisine immediately think of Paella. As for local people, when mentioning this dish, they will immediately think of Valencia. The land located on the east coast of the country is considered the “origin” of this world-famous dish.
The irrigation system developed by the Romans was continuously improved over the centuries in the country, leading to rice becoming a staple in the diet of the people of this region by the 15th century. Meals were then cooked outdoors, around Lake Albufera (pictured) in Valencia.
Initially, farmers cooked their own rice with everything they had on hand, like vegetables, meat… As people’s food preferences developed, Valencians began to add different types of meat. rice dishes like rabbit, chicken or duck with butter beans, paprika and saffron. This meat-based recipe is considered an authentic Valencian paella.
However, not long after, another variation of it suddenly emerged as a bright star and quickly became widely popular – it is paella served with seafood. Traditionally, this pilaf dish will be fried with seafood dishes that still have their hard shells intact.
A more luxurious version is paella del senyoret, which includes shelled seafood. Today, paella is a mixed fried rice dish with hundreds of different versions.
One of the most important ingredients in the creation of this dish is the “paella”, or pan. These pans are usually very large, round and thin. They are cooked directly over the fire. Today, these pilaf dishes are cooked in all kinds of differently shaped pans.
One of the first stages of processing is cooking the sofregit sauce. This type of sauce mainly includes tomatoes, onions, and olive oil. And people always believe that if the sauce is delicious, the rice will be good. Therefore, every family and restaurant has its own sauce recipes.
Recipes for this paella dish are also many and varied. Each region, town or household has its own recipe and everyone believes that their recipe is better than the rest. In addition to choosing fresh ingredients, the type of rice to cook is also very important. People often choose short-grained, slightly round rice so that it can absorb the sauce but also retain a certain firmness when cooking. There’s nothing worse than a mushy paella.
After many hours of preparation and cooking comes the stage of enjoying the results. Valencians believe that the layer of rice closest to the bottom of the pan is the best place, because it is where the most sauce and spices are absorbed. It is also the part most people crave when eating the dish and this part is called socarrat. The socarrat rice is a bit crispy, like scorched rice. Many people don’t know and skip this portion of rice the first time they eat it.
And the last thing you need to know about this dish is that it was created to bring people together. The moments when everyone prepares the ingredients, cooks together and enjoys together are considered moments of joy and happiness with endless smiles.