So you’ve come to Spain for your year studying abroad, and you’ve scored the perfect place to stay through Study Abroad Apartments (contact us to find the best accommodations in any city, whether it’s Spain or other European countries). Now you’re ready for some exploring and, of course, one of the best things to start with is food.
Paella is probably one of the most famous Spanish dishes, a staple of Mediterranean cuisine and an all-time favorite for both locals and tourists. There are plenty of restaurants that offer paella, and some of them take pride in theirs, but the hard truth is that not every one of them gets it right. If you want to be able to tell a real paella from a fake approach, stay on this article and by the time you’re done reading you’ll be as picky as a Valencian when it comes to this delicious dish. And no, it’s not just about the ingredients!
The surprising basics
First of all, real paella is cooked on a flat pan, as wide as possible, and on top of real wood fire for better results. You can prepare it on top of a barbecue! Better results are obtained when using traditional Spanish rice, such as ‘bomba’ or ‘senia’ rice, as this kind of rice absorbs the stock and reacts very well to this kind of cooking. The flat pan helps as the rice layer should be as thin as possible, so beware of ‘thick’ paellas cooked in smaller, taller pans.
Also, that rice must stick to the bottom of the pan: no stirring whatsoever! Valencians have an amazing technique (using a spoon) to eat that rice that got stuck, which is a bit hardened (not burnt) and carries a lot of flavor from the stock.
Finally, paella is a social dish. There’s no such thing as ‘paella for one’: it’s cooked for the many and eaten together, straight from the pan using a wooden spoon if you want to have a true Valencian experience.
The actual ingredients
The real paella is not surf and turf: it’s either or, so we don’t mix meat and seafood when cooking it. Paella Valenciana is made with chicken and rabbit, while seafood paella carries fish stock, prawn, cuttlefish
Paella is cooked with extra virgin olive oil, tomato, garlic, smoked paprika, saffron
Are you about to embark on the trip of a lifetime? Study Abroad Apartments offers some great options for students planning to study abroad. Just get in touch with us if you need any help finding somewhere to stay and we’ll make sure you have one of the best options out there!