Desperately Seeking a Genuine Paella

We all know that Paella originally comes from Valencia. Its fame has spread throughout Spain and the rest of the world. But this well-deserved popularity has come with a price and original Paella has unfortunately suffered many adulterations along the way. Authentic and genuine Paella continues to be an enigma, a great dish that is often hard to encounter, even many times in Spain itself, outside of Valencia.

There are endless myths about the correct ingredients and the way it should be prepared. The countless list of do’s and don’ts about Paella, contributes to a number of Paella pan common mistakes which are often made when trying to make an Authentic Paella.

Here´s the first common misconception about Valencian Paella. It does not contain chorizo! Real Paella is a chorizo-free zone, as the strong flavor of chorizo can change the true taste of original paella! Even across Spain, chorizo is often found in so-called Paella off-shoots. The only meat you should really use is chicken, rabbit and small pork ribs. The rest of the pork is also a forbidden ingredient!

Another surprising fact about Authentic Valencian Paella is that it does not contain any seafood! Yes, I can hear you say, well what about that beautiful Paella garnished with succulent king prawns, mussels and Norway Lobsters? Wasn’t that real Paella? Well, as they say in Valencia, paella for tourists! Referred to today as “seafood Paella”, this later seafood cousin evolved out of the original Paella, born in the rice fields and vegetable gardens of Valencia. Original Paella was made with local ingredients that Valencian farmers had to hand; rice, vegetables and meat, explaining the absence of seafood in original Paella.

Another rookie mistake in making paella is to use long grain rice. To make any type of paella, you can only use medium round grain rice so that it absorbs the flavor easily. Long grain won’t absorb any of the flavors from the ingredients and you’ll end up with a tasteless anodyne yellow rice.

The right equipment is also essential. Paella should be cooked in a large, flat round pan with handles, and most importantly, it should be a thick-bottomed pan. The rice should be thinly spread across the pan so that the heat is distributed evenly, cooking the rice equally along the whole surface of the pan. Obviously, the Paella pan is perfectly designed for this task but you can also try with pans meeting the above requirements.


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