In this article, I’ll answer some of the most common questions people ask before making any paella, whether it’s paella valenciana, vegetable paella, paella de marisco, or any other delicious variation.
I will provide answers to the following frequently asked questions, among others:
- What is a paella?
- What are the basic ingredients of the paella?
- What kind of rice should you use for the paella
- What is the best rice to cook a paella
- What is the “sofrito”?
- What are “garrofons”
- What are “ñoras”
- What gives paella its yellow color?
- When does the saffron go into the paella?
- When does the “pimentón” paprika powder go into the paella?
- What olive oil should I use to cook the paella?
What is a paella?
The word paella has two main words meanings, firstly, it is the round metal container with a flat bottom and two handles used to cook paella, and secondly, and this can be deduced from the previous meaning, the word paella also gives its name to the dish, whose The main ingredient is rice, which is cooked with other ingredients such as fish, seafood, meat, vegetables or legumes. It is a typical dish that is prepared and eaten in all Spanish regions. The most well-known variant, both in Spain itself and abroad, is Paella Valenciana, which is also known outside of Spain as “Spanish Paella”, Paella Española.
What are the basic ingredients of the paella?
One paella can differ from another in its variety of ingredients, depending on whether it is paella valenciana, seafood paella, vegetable Paella or any other recipe, but to cook almost any of the numerous variations you will always need the following ingredients:
- Short Grain Rice (recommended: Bomba Rice)
- “Sofrito” made from vegetables
- real saffron
- Paprika powder from La Vera
- Extra virgin olive oil, cold pressed first pressing
- Ñoras (dried peppers )
What is the best rice for cooking paella?
Rice is the main ingredient of every paella and dah it is important to use a quality rice for cooking. First and foremost, it should be round rice, as this will absorb the flavors of the ingredients in the paella much better. There are hundreds of round rice varieties, but we particularly recommend those grown in the Valencian Albufera:
Bomba rice is highly regarded by chefs and gourmets for its exceptional culinary quality, thanks to the “accordion effect” that it undergoes during cooking, this rice is able to do to absorb a lot of flavor while still remaining whole in the grain and none of the rice grains sticking to each other. It is the best rice for cooking paella. And it is used in the ratio of a whopping 4 portions of water or stock for one portion of rice and the cooking time is 18 minutes.
Short grain rice
Arroz redondo short grain rice, grown in the ecologically intact and protected environment of the Albufera Natural Park, is excellent for cooking all Types of rice, especially for paellas. Its texture, once cooked, is tender and juicy. The regular size of the grains offers a pleasant, robust feeling on the palate and is also a visual delight. This rice absorbs a significant amount of liquid (fish, meat or vegetable stock) during cooking, but is easier to cook than the Bomba or Albufera rice variants. It is used in the ratio of 2 portions of water for one portion of rice and the cooking time is about 15 minutes.
Organic Short Grain Rice
Cultivated in the Albufera Natural Park, Organic Short Grain Rice is a very versatile rice recommended for a wide variety of Spanish recipes, especially paellas. Its texture is tender and juicy. It is used in the ratio of 2 portions of water for one portion of rice and the cooking time is more or less 15 minutes.
Albufera rice is grown exclusively in the Albufera Nature Reserve near Valencia . It is a recent (2016) cultivar breeding, born from the natural selection and crossing of Bomba rice, with a preparation very similar to Bomba rice. Albufera rice is therefore used in the ratio of 4 portions of water (or stock) for one portion of rice and the cooking time is 18 minutes.
What is a “sofrito de verduras”?
A good sofrito de verduras is the basis of many recipes, including paellas, but also for stews and casseroles of all kinds. All these dishes usually start with the preparation of a sofrito, cooked over a low heat . The sofrito consists mainly of tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic and, depending on the recipe, can also contain carrots, zucchini and other vegetables. These vegetables are finely sliced in brunoise shape and poached over low heat with extra virgin olive oil. The essential thing is that the water in the vegetable evaporates very slowly while gradually caramelizing with the fructose it contains.
What are Garrofón?
The Garrofón is one of the elemental ones Ingredients to prepare the original Valencian paella. It is a legume that resembles a large bean. The garrofon differs from the others because it is speckled and excels at absorbing the flavors and passing them on to the paella base and because this heavenly legume, unlike, say, Austrian runner beans, has a very thin skin and a very creamy texture. For a Valencian paella for 5 people, we usually use about 80 grams of Valencian garrofónes.
To cook the garrofóns properly, it is necessary to soak them overnight, as we do with other beans and legumes . Then they are cooked in plenty of water in a separate container from the paella and removed from the heat when they are “al dente”. Finally, add these beans to the paella just after adding the rice.
What are ñoras?
The ñoras are a type of red pepper with a round shape that are dried naturally in the sun. They are a typical ingredient in many dishes from the Spanish Levant region, including paella. They are also known for being one of the ingredients in the sauce of the famous calçots, the typical Catalan grilled spring onions.
Before adding them to our recipes, we need to leave them in for a few hours Soak water and then remove the pits and scoop out the pulp, as this is the part of the pepper that is prized in the kitchen.
When to add saffron to the paella?
Saffron is indispensable in any paella because it gives it an elegant aroma and enhances the taste of the ingredients, as well as giving paellas their flavor characteristic color. The saffron should be cooked for a maximum of 20 minutes, so it’s best to add it after the rice to make sure it doesn’t overcook.
The color of paella is typically determined by saffron and paprika, which add to the Give rice a natural yellow-orange color. If you see a paella with a very intense color, it is probably because a food coloring has been added, namely tartrazine, an artificial coloring that is much cheaper than saffron, but which, when used regularly as a food, has a negative effect that should not be underestimated effects on the human organism.
When should I add paprika powder from La Vera to the paella?
Like saffron, paprika adds color and flavor to paella. In Spain, the highest quality paprika powder, recognized by chefs and hobby cooks alike, is Pimentón de La Vera, which gives paella its delicate smoky flavor. The best time to add the peppers to the paella is just after the rice and before adding the broth, to give the rice a few seconds to absorb the flavor nuances of the peppers.
Which olive oil to use to cook paella?
Always use extra virgin olive oil, in particular it is advisable to use a mild variety such as e.g. B. arbequina. But as with anything, it is better not to use too much oil as it can make the paella too hard to digest.
We hope we have answered the most important questions to ask yourself before cooking a paella, have answered. If you want to deepen the topic, you can read other articles on this topic, such as: B. the recipes of seafood paella and Valencian paella that we have already published on our blog. Or email us with your open questions.