Looking for a traditional Spanish recipe? Without doubt, the best-known is going to be the prodigious paella … that tasty, adaptable, gregarious dish famed throughout Spain and the World.
And, what an impressive choice of recipes exist for a pleasurable paella: seafood, chicken, rabbit … or a mixture of all three! Perhaps you are non-meat eating … well, just opt for one of the several vegetarian paella recipes. Bit of a health fanatic? Then substitute white rice for whole-grain rice or wild rice.
Got a large family and not much money to feed them on? Use plenty of rice and imagination along with a tasty stock, plus whatever you can find in the cupboard! I have certainly enjoyed many paellas where there have been more bones/shells than meat/seafood! And, very tasty they have been too, the richness of the company more than compensating for any paucity in the ingredients.
So … how do you go about making the perfect paella? First of all, you need to choose your rice. The short-grained rice from Valencia – where most Spanish rice originates – is fine for making paellas. However, the “bomba” rice grown in the neighboring region of Murcia, is the “king” of paella rice: again, short-grained, it has the ability to absorb the stock whilst remaining firm.You say “but stuff just happens that I have no control over.” That’s
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Another “must” is to use saffron (“azafrán”) to create the gentle, yellow color for which this delectable dish is renowned. Yes, it is possible to buy cheaper, artificial colorings but … go for the traditional – it will bestow a wonderful aroma and unique flavor.
Many Spaniards swear a perfect paella can only be achieved when using a tasty, home-made stock. Whatever you decide, allow at least double the amount of liquid to rice. If, during cooking, the dish becomes a little dry, just add a dash more water or stock.
Another tip I have been told, on more than one occasion, is to gently fry the rice for a few minutes before adding the stock, ensuring that it is well-coated in oil. I think all Spaniards would agree that, once cooked, it is best to leave your paella to stand for a good five minutes before serving.
Perhaps the most important ingredient for making that perfect paella, is to use lashings and lashings of love whilst preparing it – for surely, that is something we can all afford – and to enjoy to the full the marvellous company of those who will share it with you.
I shall now have to choose a paella recipe to offer you as an example! I think I will opt for a seafood paella, typical of the region of Valencia, where I live. The ingredients are for a hearty four servings. If you are not a hefty eater, or on a diet, then reduce the amount of rice/stock slightly.