Many people know paella as a typical Spanish dish, and although that is true, the dish was developed just outside of Valencia. The dish is made up of tomatoes, onions, chicken, duck, rabbit, escargot, rice, beans and chicken stock, and spiced with saffron and paprika. Traditional Valencian Paella is very hard to find, as some restaurants have morphed their recipes to satisfy the desire (for paella) amongst tourists in Spain. We want you to enjoy every ounce of Spanish culture, paella included, so we've broken down the key factors in a traditional Valencian Paella.
Beware of restaurants offering paella for one or any paella that will be ready in less than 20 minutes. Traditional paella takes at least 20 minutes to prepare and is rarely served in a single portion. Your dish should come served in a wide, shallow, circular pan with no moisture left once cooked. The dish was named after this pan, a Paellera, which is also used for a variety of Spanish rice dishes. Each paella is made differently, but all paellas should be baked in the traditional pan, with a crispy layer of rice on the bottom called “socarrat”.
Paella is traditionally spiced using paprika and saffron, which gives the dish an orange/yellow hue. Saffron is an expensive spice but is essential for traditional paella. The spice is pulled out of the center of a flower, but only three thread-like stigmas can be used per flower, making it very difficult to harvest. This and other paella ingredients can vary from place to place, depending on local tradition, and can include a variety of chicken, seafood and vegetables.
Traditionally, Spaniards enjoy a paella at lunchtime from 2:00-5:00 pm, making it the biggest meal of the day. Try something new or treat yourself to one of Spain's delicacies on your next trip. Contact us for recommendations or if you have any questions about traditional paella!