Paella is a classic Spanish dish, originally from Valencia, and often involves a combination of seafood, meat, vegetables and rice. It makes a perfect summer sharing dish to serve at an outdoor gathering – the gorgeous aromas are enough to lure in a sizeable crowd.
As rice forms the main component, it’s worth finding high-quality paella rice to make this, such as bomba or Calasparra. These highly absorbent short-grain Spanish varieties will give you the authentic sticky finish. Classic paella normally has a slight crust on the bottom called socarrat, which can only be achieved if you don’t stir the rice too much. Over-stirring will release the rice starch and give the dish more of a creamy, risotto-like texture.
Truly great paella also relies on a flavoursome stock, which you can make yourself using prawn heads, parsley, wine, saffron and cooking juices from the mussels.
Traditionally, paella is cooked over an open fire which infuses the paella with an aromatic smoke. To recreate this at home, use smoked sea salt to flavour the finished dish. Although chorizo isn’t a traditional ingredient in seafood paella, it contributes a delicious smoky paprika flavour, making it a worthy addition in our opinon.
To get the most from this dish, we recommend leaving the paella to cool a bit before serving. Garnish with fresh parsley leaves and a splash of lemon.
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