Hello fellow foodies,
It’s time for another #Foodie Tale. Finally! Here I’m sharing with you my love for one of my all-time favorite food… Paella!
In Our Familiarium we are all about family traditions and there nothing better to get in touch with your Spaniard roots than Paella and Sangria right?
So what is paella?
Paella (Catalan pronunciation: [paˈeʎa] or [pəˈeʎə], Spanish: [paˈeʎa]; English approximation: /pɑːˈeɪlə, -ˈeɪljə, -ˈeɪjə, -ˈɛlə, -ˈjɛlə/ or /paɪˈɛlə/) is a Valencian rice dish with ancient roots that originated in its modern form in the mid-19th century near the Albufera lagoon on the east coast of Spain adjacent to the city of Valencia. Many non-Spaniards view paella as Spain’s national dish, but most Spaniards consider it to be a regional Valencian dish. Valencians, in turn, regard paella as one of their identifying symbols.
Types of paella include Valencian paella, vegetarian/vegan paella (Spanish: paella de verduras), seafood paella (Spanish: paella de marisco), and mixed paella (Spanish: paella mixta), among many others. Valencian paella is believed to be the original recipe and consists of white rice, green beans (bajoqueta and tavella), meat (chicken and rabbit), white beans (garrofón), snails, and seasoning such as saffron and rosemary. Another very common but seasonal ingredient is artichokes. Seafood paella replaces meat with seafood and omits beans and green vegetables. Mixed paella is a free-style combination of meat from land animals, seafood, vegetables, and sometimes beans. Most paella chefs use bomba rice due to it being harder to overcook, but Valencians tend to use a slightly stickier (and thus more susceptible to overcooking) variety known as Senia. All types of paellas use olive oil.
My American friends… a Paella is similar to a jambalaya. 🙂
I grew up eating mostly Seafood Paella and Mixed Paella which we made adding Spanish chorizo and chicken to the TONS of to the seafood. They only vegetables we added were onions, fire roasted tomatoes, red bell peppers, petit pois [very small green peas] parsley and garlic.
My own personal recipe is mixed paella with TONS of seafood and some chorizo, no chicken plus mushrooms and these are my secrets to a great paella…
- Good quality of long grain rice
- Tons of seafood. We like shrimp, scallops, squid and octopus. Since I live in New England I could use fresh seafood more often but since I don’t like to buy too often I usually buy big batches, make my “paella ready” bags with the mix I want to use and freeze them.
- Tons of onions [a typical paella that serves 4-6 people would have about 4 big sweet onions]
- Canned fire roasted tomatoes. The fire roasted flavor is AWESOME.
- Saffron. Authentic paella has saffron no curry or any of all crazy spices you see in some recipes! And…
- YOU NEED A PAELLERA. You may be able to make a decent paella in a wok or pan but NEVER NEVER NEVER do as I did and try to make a paella in a crock pot!
- NEVER NEVER NEVER mess up with the rice after you cover it. NEVER! That’s the fastest way to ruin ANY rice dish, especially paella.
The way I make my paella is… I heat up the paellera over medium-high heat then sauté chorizo slides and the finely chopped onions in olive oil. When the onions are transparent I add garlic, slide mushrooms and two cups of rice and sauté all for another minute. Then I add the liquid, the seafood, salt, pepper and the saffron. The proportion is 1.5 cups of liquid per cup of rice. Since I often use frozen seafood I boil the packet of frozen seafood for about 2 min and use that liquid for the paella plus some good quality white wine and the liquid from the canned fire roasted tomatoes. Then I stir everything to make sure all ingredients are combined and let it simmer for about four minutes. Cover it and let it cook on low heat, UNDISTURBED, for about fifteen minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed.
I can’t emphasis this enough: NEVER disturb a rice dish when cooking unless it is risotto which requires constant stirring. The only time you do something is at minute twelve when you pour the frozen peas on top and cover it again. The only time I lift the cover is after the fifteen minutes had passed to check on the liquid level. If there is still liquid I leave it uncover and cook for another two minutes. I used the last two minutes to sauté strips of red bell pepper and the biggest shrimps with some chopped garlic, salt and pepper in olive oil. When all liquid has been absorbed I turn the heat off and let it rest for at least five minutes. Before serving I decorate the paellera with the red bell pepper and shrimp and chopped parsley.
I serve it with garlic bread, and white wine. We usually drizzle some more olive oil and add fresh ground pepper to each individual portion right before eating it. B-Dad likes to drizzle also some Jerez [Sherry] over it.
If you need more specific directions [from someone that actually measures when they cook] you can try this Food Network recipe for Paella Valenciana. It seems pretty close!
What about you? Have you tried Paella? Did you like it?
What is your favorite kind? Any recipes you want to share?
Thank you for visiting!