The dish of Spain.
We’ve all heard of Paella right?
No? Where have you been?
Most likely you have and have your own opinion on it but is it something you have ever made?
I certainly hadn’t ever made it but had heard about it plenty. It is so synonymous with Spain. If you thought it originated somewhere else, then what were you thinking??
But what makes paella such a popular dish? Is it the ingredients? Is it simple cooking?
The experience of eating together
What I love about paella is that it is food that can be enjoyed amongst friends and family around a dinner table. You cook in one pan and can just bring that straight to the table and let everyone serve themselves.
In actual fact, this experience is part of the history of paella. The dish originated in Valencia, Spain by the Mediterranean Sea. This led to seafood being used a lot in paella originally but changed as generations passed. Paella was cooked in one pan, over a fire and first eaten by local workers at lunchtime. Over generations, it became a popular social dish and today it is celebrated all over Spain by being the centrepiece for fiestas.
The pans in which paella is cooked vary only in width, not depth. Paella pans can go up to two metres wide!! Wow, that’s a pretty big pan!!
A set recipe?
From what I have read there is no set recipe for paella. In different parts of Spain, you’ll find paella with just seafood, or with different meats. Chicken, chorizo, snails, mussels, shrimps are all used depending on where you are in Spain. Due to its history and experience paella has become popular all over the world. It is a dish I had heard of on many occasions and a few years ago I thought I should learn how to make it.
The original recipe I used has been adapted after quite a few attempts so that it contains ingredients that I prefer. The paella I make is my own spin on it and hopefully, if you like it you’ll want to give it a try for yourself and experiment what tastes good for you.
My paella does turn out to be a rather reddish colour. This is due to some of the red ingredients I use. I find making paella similar to making risotto because it has similar processes. So if you have made risotto before then making paella may not feel too different. The rice is different and this affects the cooking time, plus risotto rice ends up with a creamier texture.
- Paella rice
- Red pepper
- I have made paella using chicken, which has turned out fine but chorizo and prawn work out better for me.
- With many of the dishes, I make it starts off with frying onion. Use a little olive oil or vegetable oil over a low to medium heat. This allows the onion to cook through slowly to release all of its flavours.
- When the onion begins to soften add one glove of chopped garlic with a teaspoon of paprika.
- Chop one red pepper and add to the frying pan.
- Once you are happy that the onion almost completely softened it is time to add the paella rice. Now it’s really trial and error to know exactly how much rice you need depending on how many people you are serving. As a measure, I’d say try a quarter of a mug for one to two servings and then increase that for more. The rice will expand whilst cooking so keep that in mind.
- When you add the rice turn up the heat and then you need to add stock to cover the rice. I tend to just add cold water and half a vegetable stock cube. Mix the cube to ensure it dissolves in the water and bring the stock to the boil.
- Add more stock as the rice absorbs the water. Season as you go.
- When the stock has been absorbed and the rice has nearly softened add the prawns and parsley. Turn the heat down low at this point so that the rice does not burn and all the flavours come together slowly at the end.
And that is my paella. What I usually do that I haven’t in the photo is cut the large prawns a little smaller. This is one dish that I think everyone should try to cook. As long as you stick to the basic ingredients of onion, garlic and paella rice then adapt your paella to your personal taste and enjoy alone or with others.
Have you cooked paella before?
What does your paella consist of?
No need for postcards, feel free to leave a comment…