Paella: cooking secrets

When we talk about Spain, we immediately remember bullfighting, flamenco and paella-appetizing, bright, with pieces of meat or seafood, juicy tomatoes and fragrant olive oil, generously seasoned with saffron

A peasant dish or a delicacy?

The history of paella, a relative of risotto and pilaf, begins in the XV century in the Spanish region of Valencia, where rice has been grown in the vicinity of Lake Albufer since ancient times. The local peasants mostly ate it, adding to the rice in the process of cooking everything that they found in their home supplies — meat, fish, vegetables, beans. Actually, in the Valencian dialect, the word paella refers to a frying pan or pan for cooking, but over time, so did the rice dishes that were cooked in them.

Paella has long ceased to be the food of the poor, now it is served in the best restaurants in the world. Moreover, it can be prepared both as a luxurious dish and as a simple meal-depending on the ingredients and the mood of the soul. In Spain, at competitions for the preparation of paella, chefs compete in skill, finding out who will make this dish tastier, more interesting and brighter. And during national holidays and festivals, paella is prepared in huge vats over an open fire and is served to everyone

How to prepare paella in different regions

In Alicante and Murcia, rice is always fried before cooking paella, and red niora pepper is added to the dish, giving it a pleasant bitterness. In the recipes of Castellona, among the classic ingredients you will find pork chop, in the northern regions of the country, sausages, duck or peas are added to paella. It is possible to discuss for a long time what paella consists of, but three components are mandatory for it-this is rice, olive oil and saffron, everything else can change.

And yet, among the rich variety of paella, there are three main recipes, on the basis of which hundreds of variations of this dish were created. Paella "Valenciana", which is prepared with rabbit, chicken or duck, with vegetables, snails, regular and green beans, although snails are not required. "Morisco", where the main ingredients are fish, seafood and vegetables, and "Mixta" - a mixed paella, which has meat, seafood, and vegetables. By the way, a very interesting taste of paella "Black rice" (arroz negro), one of the varieties of "Morisco", which is prepared with cuttlefish, coloring the dish in black.

In addition, the types of paella differ in their moisture content — dry rice with an appetizing toasted crust, tender paella that resembles porridge, and a liquid dish in the form of soup, which is called "caldoso". Moreover, in any paella, you can add a variety of seasonings — paprika, black pepper, rosemary, hot pepper, lemon, olives, wine, giving the dish a refined and refined taste.


It remains to figure out how to cook paella. First of all, we choose a suitable dish — a wide and shallow paella pan with a diameter of 20 cm to 1 m, it all depends on the number of eaters. The fact is that the layer of rice should not exceed 2 cm, if you want to cook paella with a toasted crust at the bottom. Excellent, if there is a frying pan made of cast iron, in extreme cases, take any pan without a non-stick coating — it will prevent you from getting a crust.

A more tender paella can be prepared in a deep frying pan, and a liquid variation of the dish — in a saucepan. If you cook in a paella, it is important to heat it evenly, so choose the dishes according to the size of the stove. Many Spanish housewives buy special gas burners for paella, designed in such a way that the fire under the paella spreads evenly. On an electric stove, the dish is rarely prepared — it is believed that such a paella is not very tasty, but in the oven it is easier to get a ruddy crust. In extreme cases, you can use two burners for one pan at once. The Spaniards can be considered fanatical in everything that concerns this dish, and what other country will be so sensitive to paella!


First, in a frying pan with good olive oil, fry seafood or fish, meat or sausage products, cut into pieces. At the same time or a little later, Bulgarian peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, artichokes, zucchini, parsley and other vegetables, tomato sauce and rice with saffron are added to the meat and fish, and all this is filled with water, even better with broth — meat, fish or vegetable. Sometimes rice is added after the broth, and some seafood is put in the pan closer to the end of cooking, but these are all details of each specific recipe.

As already mentioned, the cooking methods are different, but whatever recipe you choose, the first 10 minutes after adding rice and broth, the fire should be very strong. Next, cook on a low heat, so that the water gradually evaporates. At the last minute, increase the heat to form a crust — in Spain, it is considered the most delicious. At the same time, you should hear a slight crackling of rice, but not the smell of burning. You can touch the bottom with a spatula and, if you feel that the bottom of the dish has finally gripped, turn off the heat. Cover the pan with foil and let the dish stand for 10 minutes, so that the paella is soaked in all the flavors


An equally important point is which rice for paella is better to choose. The ideal option is round rice arborio, bahia, carnaroli, bomba and other varieties that are well cooked. The Spaniards themselves believe that the ideal rice for paella is albufera, which is grown in environmentally friendly conditions in the village of Albufera, 7 km from Valencia.

Long-grain varieties, even the beloved basmati and jasmine, are not suitable for this dish, because they do not absorb moisture, and you should not take steamed or flavored rice. However, if you manage to get the bomba variety, use only it — it absorbs the amount of liquid three times its volume and does not boil, but only increases in size.

Rice does not need to be washed to preserve the starch, which provides viscosity and tenderness to the dish. At the end of cooking, the paella is not mixed, but left under a closed lid to infuse and " ripen»


The uniqueness of paella is that you can add any of the 200 ingredients, combining them according to your personal preferences. In Spain, even in the same city, you can try different paellas in different restaurants, and they are all stunningly delicious.

The main advice from Spanish foodies — do not replace saffron with turmeric, the taste will change a lot, and not for the better.

The basis of paella is rice, but no less important "tool" in this culinary symphony is meat. Whatever you choose — chicken, rabbit, duck, beef or sausage, chop them into cubes and fry them until golden brown. Until the meat is ready, it will come in the process of cooking with rice and vegetables, but it is better to add green beans and onions at the same stage. Then the beans will get a delicious golden hue and make the meat more juicy.

After that, you can pour tomato sauce into the pan, which is easily replaced by grated tomatoes, tomato paste and Spanish sofrito sauce-it includes tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic, paprika and bay leaf.

Spanish chefs recommend adding vegetables that do not require long cooking to the boiling broth, and then try and choose the seasonings. Remember that by combining rice and broth, you can no longer affect the taste of the dish, so it is better to do it in advance.

Once you've added the broth to the paella, try not to stir the rice, although you can shake the pan if necessary without intruding on the delicate cooking process. Stirring constantly will release the starch, which will make the rice more viscous, although if you see that the liquid is not enough, add a little broth-this is the only case when you can open the lid while cooking paella


After you learn so many interesting things about Spanish cuisine, a natural question arises: what kind of dish is paella? Maybe this is a culinary symbol of beautiful Spain, which is almost impossible to prepare in an ordinary kitchen, or is it still an affordable dish for everyone?

We have chosen the simplest classic way of cooking:
round rice — 200 g
chicken (ham) - 300 g
rabbit (leg) - 300 g frozen
green peas-1 jar of
bell pepper-2 pcs.
leek — 1 pc.
tomato juice, preferably tomato gusto-100 ml
water — 750 ml
saffron infusion-150 ml
rosemary — 1 sprig
saffron-10 threads (for saffron infusion)
olive oil-for frying
salt-to taste
Prepare a saffron infusion by pouring 10 strands of saffron with a small amount of boiling water. When the water cools, add a little more boiling water. And then a little more-and so 3-4 times.

Wash the chicken and rabbit, chop them into small pieces. Fry the meat in olive oil until golden brown for 5 minutes.

Chop the leeks, bell peppers and add them to the meat, then fry for a few more minutes. Then pour in the tomato juice, mix all the ingredients well for a while. As soon as the juice darkens a little, pour water into them and cook for 10 minutes.

Add rosemary, salt, saffron infusion and green peas to the broth. Continue to cook over medium heat. Remove the rosemary from the broth.

Add the rice and cook for 10 minutes on high heat, 10 minutes on low heat and again 1 minute on high heat. If you see that the rice is not yet cooked, hold the paella on the fire for another 5 minutes, but try to lift the lid less often and do not stir. Let the paella simmer for 10 minutes under the lid before serving.

Try to enjoy a Spanish-style paella by placing the pan on the table and spreading out the spoons. Agree that such a meal brings you closer