How to make a great Paella. Spainish traditional food that is easy to make.
Where does Paella come from?
Paella is a rice dish from Spain. The origins can be traced back to the eastern coast of Spain in the fields of Valencia. This delicious dish has spread out from this region to every part of Spain before being exported all over the world. There are now many versions of paella, using any ingredient that goes well with rice. You will be able to add anything you want or fancy to this versatile dish.
Origins of Paella
The word paella originates from the Latin for pan which is used to make it. This pan (patella in Latin) was also used to make offerings to the Gods.
Although old stories from Valencia state that servant's of Moorish kings created rice dishes by mixing left overs from royal feasts, it is more likely that the first paella dish was created in the nineteenth century when workers in the rice fields around Albufera (a fresh water lagoon near the city of Valencia) made the dish using a flat pan over a fire. To this dish was mixed in anything they could find - snails and vegetables. Later on rabbit and chicken was also used.
- 350g (12 oz) Spanish paella rice
- 125g (4 1/2 oz) Chorizo sausage, sliced
- 1 white onion, diced
- 1.25 litres (2 pints) chicken stock, or fish stock
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 100 ml white wine
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 150g (5 oz) baby squid
- 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 75 g (3oz) garden peas, frozen
- 12 large prawns, peeled and deveined
- 500 g (1 1/4 Ib) mussels, cleaned and debearded
- 8 wedges lemon, to garnish
- Any other seafood you want, (scallops etc.)
How to cook a tradition paella
- Heat tablespoon of olive oil in the paella pan over medium heat.
- Add the chopped onion and heat for 5 minutes (you do not want the onion to turn brown.)
- Add a little fresh garlic and pepper to season.
- Add the chorizo and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- While this is cooking make the stock up.
- Add half the stock and wine before adding the rice.
- Season with turmeric, salt and pepper.
- Bring to the boil and cook until the stock is close to being absorbed. Add the stock and wine as needed to make sure it doesn't dry out (around 20 minutes should do.) Make sure you stir throughout this time to ensure no rice sticks to the bottom of the pan.
- Stir in the seafood you want in the dish, tomatoes and peas. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes.
- The prawns and mussels can be arranged on top for decoration.
- Place aluminium foil over the top and let the steam cook the prawns and mussels for 5-10 minutes.
- You are now ready to serve - garnish with a wedge of lemon.
How to cook an simple version of paella
The reason this is the simple version of paella is how you buy the seafood to put into your dish. If you buy them from the supermarket then you can buy it in a mixed bag so you just add contents at the end of the cooking process and let it cook for a further 5-10 minutes.
This saves you the time of preparing fresh seafood for the meal.
Top 5 rules for making the perfect paella
Once you see how easy it is to make this excellent dish, I bet you are going to experiment with it; see what is the perfect combination of ingredients with the rice for you and your guests.
However, there are certain things you must remember when making your perfect paella:
- A real paella pan is the best choice for cooking this dish.
2. Use Spanish paella rice as it absorbs more than three times the liquid than other rice types. The more it absorbs the more flavoursome the rice will be. An added bonus is that it does not stick together either.
3. Make sure the meats or sausage is cooked before adding the rice, the broth will keep the sausage or meat from drying out after but they do need to be cooked keep its full taste.
4. Don't overload the dish with too much meat or fish. This is a rice dish after all so 2/3 of it should be just that.
5. Paella can be kept simmering for a few hours if needed - it is very durable, just make sure it doesn't dry out. Add more broth when needed. It is likely that the liquid will be absorbed during the cooking process so keep topping it up as you go. Paella is served best nicely warm, not steaming hot.