When we think of Spanish food, paella is one of the first dishes to spring to mind. However, did you know that this is not a strictly Spanish dish? The typical paella we all know and love is actually Valencian paella. Despite this, it has become known as a ‘national dish’ of Spain. Because of this, the traditional paella recipe has been adopted by the different Spanish regions, each one adding its unique twist to this timeless classic. So, if foreign travel seems like a distant memory, bring Spain to you with this fabulous Valencian paella recipe. Gather your friends, put the wine to chill and rustle up this foolproof paella a la Valencia.
What is traditional Valencian paella?
The Valencian paella recipe has been supplied and approved by the Valencian Ministry of Agriculture but there are strict rules about its elaboration. For example, let’s talk about the most important ingredient – the rice! To get the best results, it is advised to use rice that doesn’t become sticky during the cooking process. Risotto rice is a no go and the closest alternative is a medium round-grain rice such as Arborio. But, if you want to recreate the authentic Valencian paella at home, you should consider hunting down a bag of Valencian rice. This rice is local to Valencia and grows in the vast rice fields found outside the city. Now that the rice is sorted, it is time to think about the other ingredients. Typically, chicken or rabbit is used to make Valencian paella. This is combined with different varieties of beans, saffron, salt, oil and seasoning.
What are the ingredients for the Valencian paella recipe?
To ensure that you replicate the original, authentic paella taste you must use the correct ingredients. In the official Valencian paella recipe, you will find the following:
- 3 cups of Spanish paella rice
- 1 Chopped rabbit and 1 chicken, chopped into pieces
- 200g Lima beans (garrofó in Catalan), soaked overnight and then boiled until soft
- 300g Green, flat, broad beans (bajoqueta in Catalan)
- 1 medium tomato, grated
- 1 cup of Olive oil
- 6 cups of water or chicken stock
Did you know?
Paella is a very personal dish and the ingredients used vary depending on the region. It is not uncommon to find the following inside your paella while visiting Spain.
- Duck meat
- Paprika powder
Have you noticed that seafood and fish are not mentioned? This is because seafood paella is a modern-day adaptation of the classic paella. You will never find seafood listed amongst the traditional paella ingredients. Today, there even exists a paella mixta, a combination of meat and fish which is so far from the original concept of paella that it cannot be found in Valencia.
Preparing the traditional Valencian paella recipe
Making paella is simple if you follow these quick and easy steps. To make paella like a real Valencian use an authentic paella pan. This is a large flat bottomed pan that has curved sides and two short handles. If you don’t happen to have a paella pan lying around, a normal large frying pan will do.
Follow these steps:
- Heat the oil over a low heat for a couple of minutes
- Next, place the chicken and rabbit into the pan and sauté for at least 5 minutes.
- Add the beans and grated tomato to the pan and continue to sauté for a few more minutes.
- Add the saffron and salt.
- Let the mixture come to a boil on a high heat and let it boil for approx 10 minutes.
- Add the rice and mix it in with the rest of the ingredients.
- Now, add the stock and leave to boil on a high heat for 15 minutes.
- Reduce the heat and let it simmer on a lower heat for an additional 10-15 minutes.
- In the last few minutes add in any herbs such as rosemary to season the paella.
- The paella is cooked once the liquid has evaporated and the rice is glossy but not dry.
- Leave the paella a few extra minutes so that the delicious socarrat process can occur leaving a yummy caramelized bottom to your paella.
What wine pairs well with the best ever paella?
Celebrate Spain’s rich wine culture and pair your Valencian style paella with a crisp, fresh chilled Spanish white wine. It is best to look for a full-bodied wine that has spent time fermenting in the barrel. Verdejo or Godello wines fit this profile and what’s more, they are local to the paella region of Spain. If you prefer fruity white wines, then Soldadito Marinero from Bodegas Angosto in Valencia will have you dreaming of summer all year round. Of course, if you choose to adapt your paella to include chorizo, paprika or other strong flavours, a young, fruity red wine would also be ideal. You can adapt your Valencian paella recipe any way that you like. And, because of this, there are no set rules when it comes to wine pairings. Let your tastebuds guide you on a sensory journey through Spain.
Where to try authentic Spanish paella in Spain
Of course, traditional Spanish paella will always taste better when made in Spain. Plan a road trip to tour all the best paella spots on the east coast. If you are visiting Valencia, the birthplace of paella, be sure to head to Malvarrosa Beach’s beachfront restaurants. These swanky eateries look out onto the 1 km boardwalk and offer some of the best beach views in the city. Be sure to head there during the early hours of the evening to enjoy watching the sunset. The Balearic Islands are also famous for paella. While they didn’t invent it, they have taken great pride in elaborating the original paella Valenciana recipe. So, if you decide to try paella in Spain, venture to the eastern coast for an authentic experience. Be sure to ask for paella arroz Valenciana to try the original recipe.
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