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Old 12-27-2019, 06:52 AM   #1
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My thread about Authentic Paella

Hi all,

Following the suggestions I got, let me start a thread where I will try to explain my vision of what is happening with paella. In my opinion, as food lovers and cooks you may appreciate this info.

I’m running a website with the aim of spreading authentic paella recipes among English speakers. After traveling a lot and living abroad I’m sure people don’t really know what’s a real authentic paella. Even many Spanish restaurants all over the world don´t offer honest authentic recipes.

That is really a shame because authentic paella can be gorgeous.

Finally, let me say I’m Spanish and that’s why my English is not perfect :)

What is paella?

Paella is 3 things for us:
A delicious rice dish
The wide pan
The act of getting together for cooking and eating paella. Something social

Where is paella from?

Paella is from Spain, but specifically from Valencia region (eastern Spain), where I was born and raised. It is said that it was created about the 18th century.

What ingredients usually have Spanish Paella?

I will depend on the paella type, but basically:
  • Medium-grain rice (paella rice types: Senia, Bomba…)
  • Meat like chicken thighs, chopped pork ribs, rabbit…
  • Seafood like prawns, calamari, kingfish, cuttlefish, clams, lobster...
  • Vegetables like butter and runner beans, red pepper, artichokes, onion, garlic...
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Grated tomato
  • Saffron, fresh parsley
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Stock (chicken, seafood/fish, vegetables, pork…)
  • Smoked paprika

How many types of paella are there?

Based on the water added they can be:
  • Seco. The rice is dry, light and not sticking together, perfectly "done"
  • Meloso. Creamy. There is still a bit of dense stock
  • Caldoso. Soupy rice, when rice floats in stock. The pan, then, is a cauldron instead
Considering the main ingredients, they can be:
  • Meat (normally with some vegetables)
  • Seafood (they can contain some vegetables)
  • Vegetarian/vegan
  • Mixed (vegetables, meat and seafood)
Both basic kinds can be usually combined, for example:
  • Meat and dry: Paella Valenciana
  • Seafood and dry: Black Paella
  • Vegetarian and dry: Vegetable paella
  • Mixed and dry: Mixed paella
  • Meat and creamy: Creamy rice with pork ribs (Arroz meloso con costillas)
  • Meat and soupy: Rice with rabbit (Arroz con conejo)
  • Seafood and creamy: Seafood paella (Paella de marisco)
  • Seafood and soupy: Rice with lobster (Arroz con bogavante)

To end up, we could add another type of dish called Arroz al horno, which could be called baked rice. It mainly contains pork and vegetables. I can assure you it's delicious. (In my top 3 of favorite rice dishes)

Authentic Paella vs Fake Authentic Paella

The web is flooded with fake paellas promoted as “authentic”, “traditional” or “classic”. They can be nice, but this is not paella.

I usually compare them with the case of pizza, the authentic with just 3 fresh ingredients vs pizza hut and similars with barbecue sauce, pineapple...

So:

Seafood Paella

It can be the most famous all over the world. This recipe’s main characters are the rice, of course, and the stock without forgetting the sauté (sofrito). Most recipes don´t even talk about stock or sauté and try to bring some seafood flavor to plain boiled rice with tons of prawns, mussels...
For a proper Seafood Paella, you first prepare a seafood/fish stock that you will add in instead of water.

Seafood Paella in Spain



Top Seafood Paella (according to Google USA)



There is no trace of stock, sauté… she boils rice and add everything on top. Furthermore, she dares to say she stir rice all the time and the result is good when this practice is a sin because it makes a rice dough instead of paella.

Paella Valenciana

This is the original one, the precursor of paellas. The recipe is very strict with the method and ingredients. It’s basically a meat and vegetable paella (never seafood). The big difference with the rest of Spanish Paella recipes is you make the stock while making the paella, not in advance.

Paella Valenciana in Spain



Top Paella Valenciana (According to Google USA)



Chopped tomato, green beans, are these onion sleeves? Where is the meat?



No comments.



Is this a risotto? They are using risotto rice, which changes the method and results.

Authentic Meat Paella

This is not a recipe per se, but it gathers all meat-based authentic paellas.

Spain (I made this one)



Google USA (Top results)



The first one with seafood and chorizo, the second one is called “traditional Spanish paella” (judge it yourself) and the one on your right-hand side "classic Spanish paella" with Thai rice.


What are the sins of authentic paella?

Basically, it's worth saying that missing the 3 pillars of paella can ruin the dish: broth/stock, sauté, right rice type but there are other considerations than will definitely help to spoil the result.
  • Lemon. Lemon juice helps mask rice flavors and fragrances. As an amateur cook, I know when someone doesn't like my rice when they squeeze lemon on it. I like it for decoration on seafood rice, though.
  • Never stir the rice after the moment the stock starts boiling. Paella is not risotto.
  • Don't add cold stock if the water has evaporated too quickly, just try it as much as it makes you confident.
  • The rice is the main character, don't saturate the paella with more pieces of meat, fish or vegetables than rice. I've seen lots of paella pictures where you can barely see the rice, that's unacceptable.
  • Furthermore, avoid long-grain rice as it does not absorb the stock nor the flavor.
  • Be careful with the tomato amount, you can easily ruin a paella by adding too much tomato.
  • Rice cooked in a saucepan will never be a paella but a rice dough unless the rice depth is no larger than +-4 cm.
  • We love wine in Spain, but we never pour wine to a paella, not even white whine.
  • Egg??!! :(
  • Spanish chorizo: no, traditional paella don't have chorizo

I hope you find this interesting and it helps you to distinguish authentic paella recipes among all those free interpretations.

Please feel free to ask, I will try to clarify things about “authentic” authentic paellas ;)

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Old 12-27-2019, 01:02 PM   #2
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One at a bbq party I attended :)


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Old 12-27-2019, 02:06 PM   #3
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One at a bbq party I attended :)


Coal! That's very rare for paellas in Spain, I never saw it in person but I'm sure the result was good. At least, it seems properly done.

Regarding the tender broad beans, it is a pity they added them on the top once the rice was almost done. I would have put in the beans during the sauté stage.

Regards
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Old 12-28-2019, 07:58 AM   #4
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Traditional and authentic are BS words. They belong associated with what any family in the region of the dish makes, not what some so called chef calls traditional or authentic.
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Old 12-28-2019, 02:42 PM   #5
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That's very interesting information and I thank you for that, however, you'll never convince an American cook of any food being "authentic".
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Old 12-29-2019, 05:01 PM   #6
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I understand your points of view. And I assume everybody is free to cook the way they want, of course.

The main objective of my post is to let you know how is the authentic paella. Most of us love to cook and to eat, and I guessed you may want to know how a proper paella should be made.

All of these ingredient-crowded paellas need them to bring some flavor to the mouth. However, paellas don't contain many ingredients, and the flavor comes basically due to the broth and the sauté.
Then, rice acts as a flavor conveyor from the plate to the mouth. That's why is key to choose the right grain type.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigC View Post
Traditional and authentic are BS words. They belong associated with what any family in the region of the dish makes, not what some so called chef calls traditional or authentic.
Paella Valenciana recipe (the mother of all Spanish paella types) is "supported" by a Denomination of Origin, which regulates and preserves the ingredients list and the cooking method to preserve the authenticity.
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Old 12-31-2019, 05:57 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paellator View Post
I understand your points of view. And I assume everybody is free to cook the way they want, of course.

The main objective of my post is to let you know how is the authentic paella. Most of us love to cook and to eat, and I guessed you may want to know how a proper paella should be made.

All of these ingredient-crowded paellas need them to bring some flavor to the mouth. However, paellas don't contain many ingredients, and the flavor comes basically due to the broth and the sauté.
Then, rice acts as a flavor conveyor from the plate to the mouth. That's why is key to choose the right grain type.




Paella Valenciana recipe (the mother of all Spanish paella types) is "supported" by a Denomination of Origin, which regulates and preserves the ingredients list and the cooking method to preserve the authenticity.
I don't care what some group designates a dish, authentic and traditional belong to the FAMILY making it!
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Old 01-01-2020, 05:00 PM   #8
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I don't care what some group designates a dish, authentic and traditional belong to the FAMILY making it!
If a family has a tradition of making "Hawaiian Gumbo," with tuna, spam and pineapple, would that qualify as "authentic or traditional?"

There will always be variations in "traditional" recipes, but at some point, I think a gumbo stops being a gumbo, and a paella stops being a paella.

Just my two cents.

CD
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Old 01-02-2020, 12:40 AM   #9
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BTW, I have had paella in Madrid... and Torremolinos, and Barcelona. I have also had it in the US. The paella at the Versailles on Calle Ocho in Miami was pretty darned close to Spanish paella. The rest has been like pizza -- same name, different meal.

Now, that is not saying that the paella I had in the US tasted bad, but it was not the same. It has always seemed like people feel a need to "kick it up a notch."

When I finally get the nerve up to make paella, I want it to be as much like what I ate in Spain as possible. So, thanks Paellator for the recipe and advice.

CD
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Old 01-02-2020, 06:25 AM   #10
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So, thanks Paellator for the recipe and advice.
CD
My pleasure

I'm from the Valencia region, where paella is from and I've been eating paella and Spanish rice dishes all my life, it is my favorite dish.
And I've always seen a cooking path/method not only in restaurants but in families and the result is most of times similar. For me, that is a "traditional/authentic way to make them".

And for example, the Chorizo Paella is not traditional nor Spanish, but it is on the web (see here). The excuse is because I'm presenting a chorizo paella made following the traditional cooking method.

(I could be banned from Spain because of promoting a paella with chorizo as traditional )
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Old 01-02-2020, 07:03 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by caseydog View Post
If a family has a tradition of making "Hawaiian Gumbo," with tuna, spam and pineapple, would that qualify as "authentic or traditional?"

There will always be variations in "traditional" recipes, but at some point, I think a gumbo stops being a gumbo, and a paella stops being a paella.

Just my two cents.

CD

If you payed more attention to my first post (where I said with in the region where a dish is made), then you would see how ridiculous your analogy is.
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Old 05-28-2021, 04:33 AM   #12
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Seafood Paella

Hi There,
Thanks for a very in depth thread.
My question is concerning Seafood Paella. All the recipes I have read tell me to put the Seafood i.e. Shrimp, Calamari, Mussels , Clams in the pan before bringing the rice to the boil and then there is 20 minutes or so of cooking until the rice is ready. Surely this is too long for the Seafood ingredients? The Shrimp and Calamari will become hard and rubbery and the Mussels and Clams will have opened and become tiny and rubbery? Can you give me some advice on the correct time to introduce the Seafood to the paella pan ?
Thank you
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Old 05-28-2021, 04:57 AM   #13
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Hi There,
Thanks for a very in depth thread.
My question is concerning Seafood Paella. All the recipes I have read tell me to put the Seafood i.e. Shrimp, Calamari, Mussels , Clams in the pan before bringing the rice to the boil and then there is 20 minutes or so of cooking until the rice is ready. Surely this is too long for the Seafood ingredients? The Shrimp and Calamari will become hard and rubbery and the Mussels and Clams will have opened and become tiny and rubbery? Can you give me some advice on the correct time to introduce the Seafood to the paella pan ?
Thank you
Find here a seafood paella recipe: https://paellarecipes.top/seafood-paella-recipe/

You are totally right, this is not the process for proper seafood paella.

You can follow the instructions on the link for an easy-but-adequate method.

However, if you want to bring your paella to another level, you may want to sauté the Shrimp and Calamari and reserve.
Then, add them in by the middle of the boiling process, and the Mussels and Clams a little later.

Another option is to boil the Mussels and Clams separately to improve the fumé (broth) and add them to the paella almost by the end of the process.

I hope it hepls
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Old 05-28-2021, 05:47 AM   #14
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Seafood Paella

Hello and Thank you - especially as you are Spanish chef!!
I like the idea of sauteing the shrimp and calamri and adding at an appropriate time. In fact they could almost be added towards the end before covering the Paella for a resting 5-10 mins. Being covered over they will finish cooking in the steam of the dish without overcooking ??
I dont think that there is anything more disappointing than beautiful shrimp, langoustines, scallops and calamari that become hard and chewy
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Old 05-28-2021, 06:12 AM   #15
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Hello and Thank you - especially as you are Spanish chef!!
I like the idea of sauteing the shrimp and calamri and adding at an appropriate time. In fact they could almost be added towards the end before covering the Paella for a resting 5-10 mins. Being covered over they will finish cooking in the steam of the dish without overcooking ??
I dont think that there is anything more disappointing than beautiful shrimp, langoustines, scallops and calamari that become hard and chewy
The thing is I don't recommend cover the paella (pan) just after the rice absorbs the stock, but somewhere in the middle of the last step (lower heat). Unfortunately, there is no rule that fits all the rice types, timings, water type, rice/broth ratio... it's a matter of experience.

I like to add them a little before the stock evaporates so they can merge a bit with the rest of the ingredients, then 7 min lower heat, I cover it, and 8 more (total of 15, 8-7/7-8 it doesn't matter). Then 5 more minutes covered with no heat.
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Old 05-28-2021, 06:27 AM   #16
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Seafood Paella

I will be using Bomba Rice and cooking for 8 guests. We have a great fishmonger close by and I can get the freshest produce. I made some fish stock a week ago from the head and carcass of a fresh plaice (solla pescado) and, after straining, I put it in the freezer. While we are corresponding, please tell me the quantities of Rice and Stock for 8 servings ? Thanks again, Tony (Antonio)
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Old 05-28-2021, 06:30 AM   #17
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Paellator,
you posted a link that adds all the seafood and then cooks it for 15/20 minutes!

after which you then say to cook seafood ahead and add at the last minute. (which I would think the correct method)

Two entirely different methods! Perhaps the process to get to the point of adding the seafood is what you are referring to.

The long cooking of the seafood is the complete opposite and equates in my mind, exactly as the question posed by fluteplayer.

I've always thought of paella as a style and method of cooking. Rice on the base and then with ingredients according to regional preferences.

LOL - got called away while trying to post this and now see that several more posts are in.
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Old 05-28-2021, 06:46 AM   #18
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I will be using Bomba Rice and cooking for 8 guests. We have a great fishmonger close by and I can get the freshest produce. I made some fish stock a week ago from the head and carcass of a fresh plaice (solla pescado) and, after straining, I put it in the freezer. While we are corresponding, please tell me the quantities of Rice and Stock for 8 servings ? Thanks again, Tony (Antonio)
Everything is on my website :)

For bomba rice, 2,5 parts of stock per 2 parts of rice.
For "normal" "paella rice", 1/1

Usually 100gr of rice per person (but I eat a lot and I can eat almost double)
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Old 11-22-2021, 03:05 PM   #19
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So it was my friend's birthday on friday and for as long as she can remember she's always wanted a breakfast similar to that in the movie Uncle Buck where he makes the monster size pancakes for Miles' (Macaulay Culkin) birthday. So I've been scheming, for a couple of months now at least, as to how best deliver this birthday wish.

Jump to today when my roommate and I rented a 30" paella pan with burner and set to work. We used one 3.75 lb box of Bisquick, along with 12 eggs, and 6 cups of milk. We started by heating up the pan and threw an entire pack of bacon onto the pan to try and grease it up a bit before we put the pancake on it. We then poured all the batter onto the pan and cooked it for about 30 - 40 minutes on one side.

The difficulty came when we were reading to flip it and required us take a piece of wood, wrapping it in tin foil, and sliding the pancake onto the piece of wood, and then very quickly flipping the pancake from the wood back into the pan.

All in all, the pancake turned out better than expected mainly because the paella pan cooked at a lower heat so no part of the pancake got overly cooked. The pancake was 28" in diameter and close to 1.5" thick at the center. Eating it was like eating cake and it just soaked up the syrup.

If you're ever bored and want to feed a lot of people, may I suggest making a ridiculously sized pancake.
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Old 11-22-2021, 03:53 PM   #20
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Well done tamsineclarke! Sure hope she was impressed!
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