Paella Valenciana

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Preparation info

  • Serves

    4–6

    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

The Eagle Cookbook

By David Eyre

Published 2009

  • About

Paella originated in Valencia and its name derives from paellera, the wide, shallow, two-handled pan in which it is cooked. Contrary to what most people think, it was originally made with meat but these days shellfish is more popular. There are so many different theories about the right way to make paella that it’s difficult to know which, if any, to accept. I will explain the main points here and leave the rest to your own interpretation.

Traditionally, calasparra rice is used. This is difficult to find unless you know of a Spanish shop, but it is similar to the Italian arborio rice, which is stocked by most supermarkets. Like arborio, calasparra is a round-grain rice which takes longer to cook than long-grain rice such as basmati. It absorbs liquid very slowly and then when the grains have swelled they release their starch all at once. Unlike a risotto, all the liquid is added to a paella in one go rather than in stages. You need a large flame, so if you don’t have a big burner on your cooker it is probably best done on a barbecue.