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Paella

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#31 Anna N

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Posted 01 February 2005 - 06:10 PM

Id like to add my two cents  and wear a journalist's hat: A few years back. a representative of the famous Valencian food market explained the difference between paellas and the family-style rice dishes called arroces in terms of gender. Paellas, she told me, are 'virile' dishes because they were originally prepared in wide steel pans in the countryside over a fire ( the smoke) by men who gathered snails, hunted rabbits, and caught duck or fresh watereels,.then cooked them with rice until the grains were plump with flavor yet still dry and slightly firm. 
"Womanly' arroces, on the other hand, she told me with a straight face  are meloso  or soft and creamy. They are not cooked in shallow pans over a fire, but in deeper earthenware cazuelas.

Pimenton de la Vera can do a stand in for the 'smoky" aroma you want, but not necessary if you want to keep arroces and paellas  in separate camps.

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I find that really interesting. Thank you.
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#32 chefzadi

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Posted 01 February 2005 - 06:56 PM

Paella is one of my favorite rice dishes. That doesn't mean I know the exhaustive history of it. I've read that the Moors brought rice to Valencia where Paella (pronounce the '"l" ) was born. I was also told by the Spanish owner of a restaurant in San Francisco that all Spanish speaking countries have an "authentic" version of it. What comes around goes around? Paella is also found in Oran, Algeria. It is called Paella there as well but we add some spices of course.

This reminds me about discussions of the origins of couscous.
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#33 Adam Balic

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 03:18 AM

Going back to phaelon56's question, how burnt was burnt? I crisp browned bottom to the rice is good, but it should not be burnt black for instance. My paella is very large and covers four burners on the stove (we don't do 'outdoors' in Scotland), the bane of my paella existance is juggling the burners to avoid hotspots and burning.

I think of paella as a rich dish (quite oily infact), full of contrasting flavour (quail and clams are good), but without anything dominating too much. What I don't like is paella that resembles a pilau, rice being light, fluffy and lemon yellow.


One last thing, what is the correct way of pronouncing "paella". Non-Spanish types in Australia like me would say "PAY-el-lah", but in Valencia it sounded more "Pay-e-YAH". Discussions with non-Valencian Spanish speakers have not reached a consensus to date.

#34 g_camper

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 03:36 AM

I also make paella, but only 3 or 4 times a year. My thoughts are its all about the rice. Using short grain rice (I generally use arborio), and, when I am on my game, it is jus a little bit al dente.

My problems come after the rice is cooked as I finish the paella reheating some of the precooked ingredients, I often overcook the rice.

I have made it outdoors, and the smoke definitely adds character to the paella; however, I like stovetop as well.

#35 Malawry

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 05:35 AM

This is a very timely discussion for me, as I've put paella on the menu at work tomorrow night. If you had to choose from ordinary Uncle Ben's style rice, basmati rice and arborio rice, which would you use for this dish?

#36 chefzadi

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 05:36 AM

Going back to phaelon56's question, how burnt was burnt? I crisp browned bottom to the rice is good, but it should not be burnt black for instance. My paella is very large and covers four burners on the stove (we don't do 'outdoors' in Scotland), the bane of my paella existance is juggling the burners to avoid hotspots and burning.

I think of paella as a rich dish (quite oily infact), full of contrasting flavour (quail and clams are good), but without anything dominating too much. What I don't like is paella that resembles a pilau, rice being light, fluffy and lemon yellow.


One last thing, what is the correct way of pronouncing "paella". Non-Spanish types in Australia like me would say "PAY-el-lah", but in Valencia it sounded more "Pay-e-YAH". Discussions with non-Valencian Spanish speakers have not reached a consensus to date.

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The Spaniards I know all pronounce the l. The l can sound really subtle sometimes. But there are so many dialects within Spain and of course in the Spanish speaking world.
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#37 Adam Balic

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 05:42 AM

Difficult isn't it. The two spanish speakers that I work with (one from Madrid, one from Colombia) insist that the Spanish double "l" is spoken as an English "Y" sound. Yet I have heard otherwise. :rolleyes:

#38 chefzadi

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 05:49 AM

This is a very timely discussion for me, as I've put paella on the menu at work tomorrow night. If you had to choose from ordinary Uncle Ben's style rice, basmati rice and arborio rice, which would you use for this dish?

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Given your three choices, arborio. Uncle Bens in the trash bin. :rolleyes: Basmati is too fragrant, unless your looking to make an Indian style Paella.
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#39 Adam Balic

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 06:11 AM

Or you could break up some very thin (eggless) spaghetti into 1.5 inch lengths and make fideos instead. Just as authentic (if not more so) and in some ways much easier, especially in bulk.

#40 phaelon56

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 07:37 AM

This is a very timely discussion for me, as I've put paella on the menu at work tomorrow night. If you had to choose from ordinary Uncle Ben's style rice, basmati rice and arborio rice, which would you use for this dish?

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Given your three choices, arborio. Uncle Bens in the trash bin. :rolleyes: Basmati is too fragrant, unless your looking to make an Indian style Paella.

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I fyour local grocery doesn't have authentic Spanish paella rice there is a brand grown in California which I've tried and found to be very good. Can't recall the name but it comes in square plastic jars - pricey but worth it. Otherwise I agree that the arborio rice is the closest. If I couldn't get that I'd use Canilla brand but never Uncle Ben's.

#41 phaelon56

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 02:16 PM

Going back to phaelon56's question, how burnt was burnt? I crisp browned bottom to the rice is good, but it should not be burnt black for instance. My paella is very large and covers four burners on the stove (we don't do 'outdoors' in Scotland), the bane of my paella existance is juggling the burners to avoid hotspots and burning.

I think of paella as a rich dish (quite oily infact), full of contrasting flavour (quail and clams are good), but without anything dominating too much. What I don't like is paella that resembles a pilau, rice being light, fluffy and lemon yellow.

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Yes... back to my original question is a good place to go. All of the rice was sort of dark brown and it was oily. I have no problem with the oiliness but the oil seemed to have a slightly burnt taste that dominated the dish. There were a few areas that were a trifle crispier towards the bottom but it was not a true socarrat and there was some residual broth to be found here and there interspersed with the other ingredients. It seems conceivable that it's very tricky to get the cookign of the rice just right, especially in a busy restaurant setting. I'm impressed by the fact that the type of rice, the cooking vessel etc are all being selected with careful attention to detail. It was also only their second week in business and I recognize that patience is necessary.

I absolutely could not taste the saffron. I know they are using real Spanish saffron and I'm sure they're not skimping on the required quantity (these folks do not skimp on quality). It seemed as though the carbon steel pan got so hot that perhaps the heat just got away from them?

#42 chefzadi

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 02:23 PM

It shouldn't be oily. The dark brown color is strange to me. We've already discussed what's "authentic" so I won't go deeper into that.

The crust on the bottom is quite a treat. Properly made it should be nutty and very pleasant to eat. The permeating smokiness you are talking about wouldn't come from a properly made bottom crust. It sounds like the paella was burnt and perhaps transfered to a different pan.

Did it have sausage or smoked meat in it?
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#43 phaelon56

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 03:30 PM

No... I have seen their kitchen and their cooking equipment (I installed their commercial coffee brewer just a week or two before they opened and had to run new plumbing in the kitchen. They are using carbon steel paella pans and it appears that the dish is cooked in the pan. Its' availabel only in a "one pan per person" size and the pan is socorchign blazing hot when they bring it out (it has a cloth napkin wrapped around the handles and underneath to prevent burns.

I don't believe they're cooking it separately and transferring it - I've had plenty of paella in Newark cooked that way however. They don't even have room to cook it in another vessel and transfer - the kitchen is tiny.

The owner does not believe in serving red meat of any type - only poultry and fish. When I chatted wit the chef prior to the opening he was planning to have chorizo availabel for those who requested it (the cured type - there's a decent commercial supplier in RI whose product is availabel locally - both chorizo and linguica). Not sure if the owner nixed that plan but when I inquired I was advised that they didn't have it that night.

We have a vendor at our local weekly farmer's marklet who sells fresh rabbit. I think I may have to get busy and start making my own again.

#44 chefzadi

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 03:37 PM

Well then... I'm running out of possible reasons for the brown color and permeating smokiness. Liquid smoke or some other additive. Maybe burnt veal stock. They would be strange things to add though. But I've seen weirder stuff done to food.

Anyway, I won't know untill I try it.
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#45 EdS

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 07:36 PM

Difficult isn't it. The two spanish speakers that I work with (one from Madrid, one from Colombia) insist that the Spanish double "l" is spoken as an English "Y" sound. Yet I have heard otherwise. :rolleyes:

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The confusion is because there is more than one proper pronunciation of the double "l" in Spanish. How one pronounces the double "l" is dependent on where one has learned to speak the language. Making a broad generalization, I'd say the following is true.

Most of Latin America (Mexico, Peru, etc.): y as in "yes"
River Plate countries (Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay): zh as in "vision"
Spain: ly as in "million" or y as in "yes"

I've traveled around Latin America but not to Spain so my experience with people from the latter is limited. I know I've heard that "ly" sound faintly from people from Spain but I'm not sure if it's consistent. Maybe I was hearing things. :biggrin:

So, I'd expect to hear variations of the word paella with the stress on the second to last syllable:

Pah-E-ya
Pah-E-zha
Pah-E-lya

#46 Adam Balic

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 01:59 AM

Ed - thank you very much for the detailed explanation, it is a small thing but it has been bugging me for a while now.

Regarding brown smoky paella. I'm begining to think that it was due to the over liberal use of smoked paprika.

#47 FornoBravo

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Posted 08 February 2005 - 02:02 PM

There is a little restaurant outside of Valencia, on an in-land fresh water lagoon near the natural springs where the rice grows -- that claims to have invented Paella Valenciana. At least that's their story. Still, there are a bunch of little restaurants in the same village that make incredible Paella. The ingredients all orginiate from there -- rice, safron, sea food, rabbit, pork, chicken, tomatoes and beans. Great ingredient and a great dish. Worth the flight. :-)

The smokey flavor might come from the rice at the bottom getting a little too browned and the flavor coming up through the rice. I've made a lot of mistakes, and have done that. The rice should be pretty brown on the bottom, and crunchy. You should need a steel spoon to get it all up.

Put the pan right on the table -- Paella can't be moved. They say you should let it rest, covered with a towel for a couple of minutes after it comes off the heat.

Have you seen the Paella rings the Spanish have? The come in a range of sizes, from a single round burner to three (or more) concrentric rings. They are propane fired, and sit on a tripod stand. You can hook them up (with a little work) to a U.S. LP tank. Don't know if you can get them on the Internet, but they're great if you can find one.

I also like that the Paella pans we have are measured by the number of people they serve, not the diameter. Very practial -- get me the 9 personne.

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#48 FornoBravo

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Posted 08 February 2005 - 02:06 PM

One more thing.

In villages around Valencia, you can see the older ladies carrying their paellas to the bakeries to cook on Saturday -- while the ovens are cooling off. Very charming.

Also, I have been baking Paella in a brick oven (without a fire in the oven), which is lots of fun.

#49 chefzadi

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Posted 08 February 2005 - 02:11 PM

FornoBravo

How is Paella pronounced in Valencia?
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#50 FornoBravo

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Posted 08 February 2005 - 05:00 PM

My memory is no "L" before the "Y". I had to talk myself out of using it.

Pie ay yah.

#51 Rogelio

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Posted 17 February 2005 - 09:33 AM

Hi, I have just seen this thread,and would like to add a few things about this subject:

- Paella is not a dish but a pan (Paella means pan in catalan lenguage)
- The real name of the dish is Paella Valenciana (obviously valencian paella) pronounce it Pie ay yah as FornoBravo said.
- There are three important things about cooking a paella:

1) The Fire (should be open wood fire, but it's not always possible)
2) The Rice (Round grain, the bomba rice is very convenient)
3) The Water (The harder, ie the most calcium carbonated, the best to allow a proper rice cooking point)

And please try to make the paella as a thin layered rice so all of it is cooked on the same point.

This issue has been disscused here on the spanish forum: http://forums.egulle...ic=16984&st=360
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#52 phaelon56

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 10:50 AM

Regarding brown smoky paella. I'm begining to think that it was due to the over liberal use of smoked paprika.

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I recently got a confirmation from the owner of the referenced restaurant that they are in fact using a liberal amount of smoked paprika. I'll revisit them soon and request that they cut the smoked paprika by 75% or so and see if that makes a difference. I'll also bring my own chorizo for them to add since they won't be stocking it and I want that flavor in my pan.

#53 ldubois2

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 11:31 AM

RE: paella. I thought that paella was the name of the dish and a paellera was the pan you cook it in...although that might be the name of the woman who cooks it instead of arroz...My spanish cookbook (Sabores, Cocina del Hogar) refers to the pan as a sarten, the spanish word for pan. Penelope Casas has a great book: Paella! that gives many variations and hints for success. Someone else mentioned the book. I have all hers and they are authentic.

Bomba rice is good, you can purchase it at Williams-Sonoma or on line at LaTienda.com. At any rate, it should be a short grain rice and arborio or carnoli would be acceptable subsitiutes...never Uncle Bens. If you are lucky enought to live in Seattle, there is a wonderful Spanish/Portugese store called The Spanish Table. They are a source for all the rices, utensils, pimenton de la vera etc. (TheSpanishTable.com) which also has the rings and outside preparation devices. I have had luck starting paella in side on the stove and finishing it outside on a round weber grill....

The crisp bits on the bottom are desirable and is called "socarrat". I think it is the best part.

#54 CherieV

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 04:59 PM

FornoBravo

How is Paella pronounced in Valencia?

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I lived in Valencia back in '93, finishing college there. I was a Spanish language major and all of my linguistic classes were taken while in Valencia. I was taught (ll) should be pronouced as another poster said yl. Very difficult actually for English speakers. Hence, as I learned in Valencia it's Pie-aye-la. (Paella). Also, I have yet ever to have Paella in the US even close to what you get in Valencia. It definately is the the olive oil content coupled with the crisp rice on the bottom of the pan. I remember it being cooked in outdoor ovens that looked like pizza ovens. I live in Pa so if anyone has any recommendations in the NE area let me know.
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#55 Adam Balic

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 04:57 AM

Regarding brown smoky paella. I'm begining to think that it was due to the over liberal use of smoked paprika.

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I recently got a confirmation from the owner of the referenced restaurant that they are in fact using a liberal amount of smoked paprika. I'll revisit them soon and request that they cut the smoked paprika by 75% or so and see if that makes a difference. I'll also bring my own chorizo for them to add since they won't be stocking it and I want that flavor in my pan.

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Oh good, glad that is sorted. You could as them to use the un-smoked paprika to avoid the issue altogether.

#56 chefzadi

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 07:21 AM

I would have never even imagined smoked paprika would be the culprit. I mean why add it in the first place? I guess I couldn't get my mind outside of a paradigmatic version of the dish which would already have a certain smoky, nutty aromatic quality to it.

Oh well...
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#57 Wolfert

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 08:12 AM

The only time I would use pimenton de la Vera in place of nora or pimenton to flavor a paella would be when making the Alicante arroz negret which employs a lot of squid ink. The sofrito one makes for this dish is rich and dark chocolate colored without burning.

The flavor balance went out of whack when I started cooking it in the fireplace using one of those iron 'stools' sold at the Spanish table, and burning oak. Yes, I got a nice smoky aroma, but I couldn't help but want more of the delicious smoky flavor that I remembered when I first tasted it in Alicante born Norberto Jorge's restaurant in Madrid, casa besigna. So, I started to add a little of the pimenton de la Vera and it worked like a charm.

Or maybe I need to use a different wood.


I can imagine how smoky pimenton could ruin a more subtle paella.
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#58 slbunge

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 08:42 AM

The  flavor balance went  out of whack when I started cooking it in the fireplace using one of those  iron 'stools' sold at the Spanish table, and burning oak. Yes, I got a nice smoky aroma, but I couldn't help but want more of the delicious smoky flavor that I remembered when I first tasted it in Alicante born Norberto Jorge's restaurant in Madrid, casa besigna. So, I started to add a little of the pimenton de la Vera and it worked like a charm.

Or maybe I need to use a different wood.

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This is interesting. Oak burns fairly cleanly, particularly if it has been seasoned well, but should still give a reasonably smoke. Was this outside or in a fireplace?

Woodfired ovens, as opposed to fireplaces, are designed reasonably low to roll the smoke so that it 'touches' to food and provide flavor. Same process when using a kettle grill.

Home fireplaces, on the other hand, have a 'smoke chamber' that is sort of up and out of your field of view. This is the area where the smoke from your burning fire is supposed to roll and get organized before going up the flue.

If you were outside, I would think that the issue would be how close the pan was to being 'in the fire' as opposed to up and out of the way. The lower the pan is to the fire the more chance you will get the smoke flavor.

Regardless, you may not get sufficient smoky flaver to counter that squid ink which is fairly dense. I know, now, that I need to find out more about that recipe. Sounds fantastic.
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#59 Wolfert

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 08:59 AM

I was using a Spanish iron ring specially made for cooking paella in-or outdoors. Our fireplace is in the kitchen and I used an 18-inch rim-to-rim paella pan.
“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

#60 jayt90

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 09:14 AM

I haven't made paella for several years, and this thread defintely has piqued my interest. But I still have a vial (corked) of unused saffron, ten years old, stored in a cool dark cupboard. Can I use it, or should I replace it? This will not be an important meal, just a venture.





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