Are you thinking about making paella for your friends and family? Then there are certain things you should keep in mind to ensure you make the best paella possible. These couple of tips and tricks should help you avoid making a mushy or subpar paella that lacks the flavor and presentation of the real deal. Paella recipes are not very difficult to make. Recipes can range from simple chicken paellas to advanced seafood paellas with tons of ingredients and instructions. It is always best to start simple when cooking a new recipe. Keep these essential beginner tips in mind before starting your journey to becoming a paella pro!
Use an Authentic Paella Pan
The first thing you should make sure to have when cooking paella is an authentic paella pan. While you can cook paella with different pens, you risk burning your dish or having it come out too mushy. Paella pans are designed to cook the dish in particular. A steel paella pan comes with indentations that make it easier for heat to transfer throughout the pan. Having a surface that easily conducts heat is necessary for cooking a good paella. Part of what makes a good paella is the socarrat (the crispy bottom layer of rice that forms after cooking the paella). You can get a better socarrat when your pan can easily conduct and disperse heat.
Authentic Spanish paella pans can come in different sizes, but the designs are typically the same. The pan is nearly flat, thin, and often has indentations. Your paella pan may not have indentations if it is enameled. Enameled surfaces have a coating that prevents them from rusting and food from sticking to the surface. Cleaning them is easy, and the pan does not require any treatment afterward. You can purchase both traditional carbon steel and enameled steel paella pans at the Machika store today! Paella pans are also versatile as you can cook other foods on them also like eggs, steak, and chicken. A Paella pan makes a great addition to any kitchen.
Get the Right Size Burner or Stand
Having the right size burner is vital for heating the entire pan evenly. If you have a large pan, and you are trying to use a small burner, then you risk unevenly heating your dish. Parts of your dish may be more cooked than others, leaving part of your food uncooked. Even though. Absorb and spread heat fast, a very small stovetop heater may not be enough depending on the size of your cookware.
If you are cooking outside, then a paella burner and stand are great for getting the job done. There are also stands for cooking paella over an open fire. You can use your pan directly on a fire, but your pan may be unstable and fall over without a stand. Make sure whichever standard burner you purchase fits the paella pan you want to use on it. Using a burner and stand to make the entire process much easier if you are cooking a large paella. Smaller pans should fit just fine on any home stovetop.
Do Not Cover Your Paella
One thing you want to avoid is covering your paella while it is cooking. For paella, you want the rice to have absorbed all the broth and flavor that you've put into it. If you cover the pan, moisture from the dish will not evaporate, leaving more liquid behind than you would want. Too much liquid in the pan can lead to a mushy paella that does not form a socarrat. You can cover your paella when it is nearly done to keep it warm before serving. But you should not cover your pan while all the ingredients are cooking down.
Use Real Saffron and Bomba Rice
A key ingredient in paella is the spice known as saffron. This distinct orange-reddish spice is known for being unique and flavor and expensive to harvest. The spice not only gives paella its unique flavor, but also it's color. Without real saffron in your dish then you cannot truly say you are cooking paella.
The rice you use also plays an important part in properly cooking the dish. While there are different types of rice you may see labeled as paella rice, most paella pros would recommend you stick with Bomba rice. This short-grain rice from Spain has traditionally been used to cook paella because of its high absorbability. It can more easily absorb broth and liquid than other types of rice, like medium grain rice.
Do Not Stir While Cooking
An easy mistake to make well cooking this dish is to stir it while cooking. It is a habit for many people to continuously stir or flip food as it is cooking. You will want to avoid stirring too frequently after initially mixing your rice and all the other ingredients. You want a nice socarrat to form at the bottom of the pan. Moving the rice around continuously as it cooks will stop the bottom layer from getting crispy. You should let your ingredients sit in the pan after mixing until the dish is done.