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Paella 101 – The Rice

Today we are going to discuss the second element to making a delicious paella. We have talked about how to pick your paella pan and how to take care of it once you have it. But how do you actually make the paella? For starters, we need to talk about the base of any paella: the rice. 

ELEMENT TWO: THE RICE

Rice is the protagonist of paellas. It is a crucial ingredient because it absorbs all of the flavors of your dish. When choosing your rice, you need to look for short to medium grains. Preferably, try looking for Spanish rice at your local grocery store. If you can’t find any though, just make sure your rice is not long-grain or parboiled (more on this later on). These rices don’t absorb half as much liquid, which would leave your paella watery and flavorless. 

THE SERVINGS

Think about it this way: ½ cup or 100 grams of uncooked rice tend to fill up the average person. It is subject to change if you offer a lot of appetizers before your paella or if your paella has a lot of meats or seafood. If this is the case, the ideal serving is ⅓ cup per person. 

NON-SPANISH RICE OPTIONS

If you can’t find Spanish rice at your grocery stores, don’t worry, there are plenty of other options. Some awesome Spanish rice substitutes are:

  • CalRiso
  • Japanese short-grain rice
  • Italian rices like Carnaroli or Arborio
  • California Blue Rose

COOKING TIMES

When cooking your rice, you need to combine it with boiling liquid. How you approach it though, is up to you. You could boil the liquid first and then add your rice OR you could add the rice to your sofrito (seasoning), let it fry for a bit and then add boiling liquid to the pan. 

The texture of your rice is the most important thing to make your paella a success. Make sure that when you add your liquid, your rice doesn’t overcook. When overcooked, the rice will open up like an accordion and will lose its firm texture and aroma. 

You can cook your rice for about 18 minutes at medium heat or until the water is absorbed by the rice. Remove your pan from the heat, cover it, and allow it to rest before serving.

Stay tuned for our next Paella 101 blog. We’ll be talking about element number three: the bases.

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