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5 Rules For Perfect Paella Like Tu Madre Used To Make

Traveling is amazing because it introduces us to things we’ve never tasted before. As soon as you land in Spain, it’s impossible not to get hooked by their national dish. The spices and the smells coming from the nearest kitchen are enough to make the taste buds burst. Muy bien, chicos. What isn’t very good are the attempts at recreating the dish back home. No matter how hard non-Spaniards try, it is never as good as the restaurant by the side of the road with an old woman as a chef.

La mujer skills are impressive, and a little bit annoying if truth be told. However, her days are numbered the secret is out. Paella how the locals do it is on the menu regardless of location. All you need are the five rules for success which can be found below.

However, heed this warning: with great power comes great responsibility. Understanding how to perfect this dish may result in rapid weight gain and the inability to speak English. In fact, you may eat that often that you’ll begin to turn into saffron-infused rice. People, please proceed with caution.

Use A Bona Fide Pan

Here is the first mistake a novice makes: they use any pan available. Not to be one of those pretentious blogs, but the cooking utensils say a lot about the chef. Some may say that a bad worker blames their tools, and they are right to a degree. However, a legitimate paella pan has features which add to the cooking process. Without them, it’s impossible to recreate the taste. For example, it doesn’t have a lid so the ingredients can cook gradually as the steam escapes.

Also, it has looped handles and dips in the middle. This allows the oil to gather at the bottom and adds flavor to the initial frying. Probably the main reason a specialized pan is essential is the shape. Paella is about layers; get one wrong, and the whole dish is ruined. Because it’s shaped oddly, it means the rice can cook in a thin layer while the rest of the pan simmers away.

Of course, let’s not forget about the presentation. Taste is important but so are aesthetics, and nothing says traditional more than a deep pan on the table. Salud, everyone and tuck in.

Don’t Overstock With Meat

Think of paella and all kinds of meat and fish will spring to mind. As always, it’s the good stuff diners look forward to when they smell the meal. Shrimps and mussels and whatever you want to add are beautiful when soaked in the broth and cooked down. Talking about it makes the mouth water. In fact, some people are on the Web right now looking for cheap flights to Madrid!

Once you’ve finished on Skyscanner, come back to reality, and in more ways than one. The temptation is to stuff as much meat and fish into the pan as possible. But, a quality, traditional paella only uses such ingredients sparingly. Bay scallops are included, as are fresh langoustines to get the balance just right.

Never, ever use chorizo and pass it off as traditional. The British chef, Jamie Oliver, found this out to his amazement in 2016 after the backlash to his recipe.

Use High-Class Saffron

Saffron gives the dish the flavor and the color, so it’s a double whammy. Without it, there is white rice and plain ingredients. Not quite the serving you get at a classic Spanish restaurant, right? Still, people continue to try and omit this vital recipe from their recipe. Or, others persist with low-quality produce. The reason is simple: saffron is extortionately expensive. In some cases, it costs more than gold.

So, it’s easy to see why there is a movement against the spice. However, there is a simple solution: use tiny amounts. The flavor is so strong that a pan only needs a sprinkle of it at the right moment. Leave to cook for a while and the saffron will infuse with the rest of the ingredients, creating a killer taste.

Buying it from different countries is an option for travelers or people with foreign contacts. India is one nation which produces lots of it and the price is dirt cheap compared to home.

Stick With Spanish Arroz

Another classic twist on a classic is to swap Spanish rice for the risotto variety. After all, they both do the same job but the latter is cheap. Take that supermarket chains because there is a loophole and you are missing out. The only thing is there isn’t a kink in the chain whatsoever because risotto rice is nothing like the paella variety.

The Italian stuff is starchy and that is what seeps out of it to give risotto its creamy texture. Also, it bonds ingredients together, which is why the staple Italian dish is thick and sticky. The whole point of paella is to soak in as much of the stock as physically possible. The process is what gives the meal the intense, rich flavors. On the whole, Spanish arroz soaks up three times as much liquid as the competitors, which is why it’s the king.

Bomba is the most famous brand but there are dozens on the market. Look for the telltale signs, the ones this post points out with aplomb.

Tailor To Your Tastes

Let’s face facts and admit the Spanish can be very protective of their national dish. As a result, it’s daunting trying to keep up with the rules. Some of Los Cocineros say you have to cook it over an open flame, while others wrap it in foil and finish in the oven. Go back far enough and one rule is to add small bits of snail and rabbit.

Because you’re not Spanish (shock), there may be elements which aren’t appealing. Don’t worry because you can change them to match your palette. After all, you’re the one who has to eat it and you don’t want the hard work to go to waste.

Are you a paella fan? What is the secret ingredient in your recipe?

Paella photo source: