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I'm no expert on paella, but I'm suspicious of definitions that depend on a particular tool or procedure. For years traditionalists like Marcella Hazan said that risotto was only possible if one followed a very strict set of procedures in an open pan with constant stirring. Now almost everyone who's tried it in a pressure cooker has kept doing so, including some prominent Italian chefs. We've come to our senses and defined risotto by the result, not by what the wizard is doing behind the curtain.

 

paulraphael, whereas I completelly agree with you in general, and agree in the case of risotto, I cannot agree in this specific case. I'm not a fundamentalist of paella (and there are quite a few around here), but rather I am defining paella in terms of its unique features, and these are: a completelly dry rice using short-grain rice whose grains do not join but feel separated, in a very thin layer in such a way that the bottom layer produces an intense maillard reaction (called "socarrat") and a kind of "oily" and very tasty top layer is formed. The rice must cook uniformly (and that's why a very thin layer is required), and each grain should have a slightly hard cender ("aldente"). Realize many paellas even here in Spain do not fit this definition, but it is what constitutes a real and good quality paella.

 

Getting these unique identifying features seems very hard without a pan that is quite wide and without a very controlled stock evaporation. In fact getting these results requires being extremelly careful with the rice/stock ratio and the heat control, which must be very strong during the first part of the cooking, then reduced, then increased again. Good paellas are one of the hardest recipes I know to get properly done.

 

Traditional paellas were cooked on fire on woods (called "sarmientos") which would also give smoke flavour to the rice. Modern paellas can be cooked on a variety of wide pans with differnt heat control, but other tools such as a pressure cooker or a rice cooker simply do not produce a cooking environment that can produce the characteristic features of paella. I am really open to new techniques and developments, but have not seen at the moment any tool or technique that can reproduce these identifying features.

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paulraphael, whereas I completelly agree with you in general, and agree in the case of risotto, I cannot agree in this specific case. I'm not a fundamentalist of paella (and there are quite a few around here), but rather I am defining paella in terms of its unique features, and these are: a completelly dry rice using short-grain rice whose grains do not join but feel separated, in a very thin layer in such a way that the bottom layer produces an intense maillard reaction (called "socarrat") and a kind of "oily" and very tasty top layer is formed. The rice must cook uniformly (and that's why a very thin layer is required), and each grain should have a slightly hard cender ("aldente"). Realize many paellas even here in Spain do not fit this definition, but it is what constitutes a real and good quality paella.

 

 

Beautiful description. I'm sure I nailed it once or twice last summer!

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  • 4 years later...
  • 2 years later...
On 5/27/2003 at 3:58 AM, SobaAddict70 said:

Does a paella have to be cooked in a special pan? (There is one, but I can't remember the name of it at the moment.)

 

 

Paella pan would be the common term.  Paellera is probably what you're thinking of.

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If the point of paella rice is that it stays separate and cooks without having to be covered, and arborio rice is meant to turn out creamy, how can arborio rice be a suitable substitute for a paella rice?  Sainsb's have a "paella rice" but it doesn't specify what rice it is on the website - does anyone know?

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18 minutes ago, Susanwusan said:

If the point of paella rice is that it stays separate and cooks without having to be covered, and arborio rice is meant to turn out creamy, how can arborio rice be a suitable substitute for a paella rice?  Sainsb's have a "paella rice" but it doesn't specify what rice it is on the website - does anyone know?

 

I think the “separation” part is slightly misleading. Paellas are not meant to be dry and separable (in the sense defined below).
 

To prepare, you are looking for medium grain, rounded rice. In Catalunya, bomba is popular. It yields a product which has not completely separated rice grains (like you may imagine from long grain varieties, or treated products like Uncle Ben’s). It does, however, have a clear al dente point, so from a texture perspective you will experience distinct grains while eating. Senia is popular as well, but produces an even creamier texture and is easily overcooked. It seems to be the most common exported variety - if I buy generic paella labelled rice here in Germany, it is usually senia
 

I’d go with bomba if you can find it ...

Edited by Duvel (log)
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1 hour ago, Duvel said:

common exported variety - if I buy generic paella labelled rice here in Germany, it is usually senia

 

I think that may be true for where you are, but here I only see Bomba (which I think is considered short grain?) and Calasparra (which is actually a DOC and not a variety).

 

I'm getting that info from these 2 books...

 

IMG_4273.thumb.jpeg.186cce2c9c99aceebbe8ff9fa7da7c05.jpeg

 

Of course, who knows if they're telling the truth...

 

IMG_4275.thumb.jpeg.2861d7597e0da45bd81a8306819af7e0.jpeg

 

I like what @EnriqueB has to say about it above, although I don't know if all paellas are completely dry.

 

In any event, they (like risotto and pasta) really ought focus on the rice (or pasta, as the case may be) and not be laden down by a million ingredients.

 

It's a challenging dish for me, and sometimes I get lucky...

 

1060088090_Paella2017_04_150767.thumb.JPG.e3ed5e5b893b238bbc1cd63270d0a9e3.JPG

 

 

63229902_2014_05_18Clamspaella.JPG.5efca65ec133b4067181b0fee677be8b.JPG

 

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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  • 6 months later...
17 minutes ago, williampaig said:
Looking for a great paella recipe and a recommendation for a Spanish wine to pair with it. Am frustrated by most of the recipes I've found on the web thus far and would really appreciate any thoughts from Forumites. Thanks!

 

https://forums.egullet.org/topic/102236-paella-cook-off-31/#comment-1404178

 

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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7 hours ago, williampaig said:
Looking for a great paella recipe and a recommendation for a Spanish wine to pair with it. Am frustrated by most of the recipes I've found on the web thus far and would really appreciate any thoughts from Forumites. Thanks!

What do you mean by a great paella recipe?  Can you show us what type of recipe frustrates you ?  A link would help.

 

Paella, to my mind, isn't so much about recipes (though, yeah, they help); it's about technique and ingredients.

 

Excellent rice, good stock,  proper liquid to rice ratio - things like that are muy importante.

 

But most of all - it's about the rice (like good pasta dishes are mostly about the pasta) and not mucking it up with a million ingredients. (Oh, I think I said all this shit above).

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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