Cooking paella can be difficult if you do not know the proper way to cook the recipe. Paella has been around for hundreds of years, so people throughout the years have perfected how to make it. One thing you will want to avoid with your paella is mushy, undercooked rice. Here’s how you avoid mushy rice and develop a nice socarrat. Different parts of a paella even have specific names, like the socorrat! The soccarat is the name for the crunchy under layer of rice that forms when you make a fresh paella.
If you cook paella in the wrong pan without taking it into account, you may not develop a socarrat. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when making paella to ensure it comes out right. For one, you will want to make sure you use the right pans for the job. At Machika, you can purchase both authentic polished steel and enameled steel paella pans from Spain. Using the right pan can help you cook your paella without getting any mushy rice as a result.
Why Is Your Paella Mushy?
Mushy paella can be the result of a couple of things. If you are cooking paella but coming out with a mushy consistency, then something definitely has gone wrong. One of the main reasons your paella may be mushy is:
Using the Wrong Paella Rice
Paella relies on a very specific type of rice to make sure the broth and juices are soaked up. Short grain rice from Spain are the go-to types of rice to get when making paella recipes. Medium and long grain varieties of rice simply do not absorb liquid as well as short grain paella rice varieties like bomba. Bomba rice is short and round and has the advantage of being very absorbent. This allows the pan to dry up while the rest of the ingredients cook. By the time the socarrat develops, the dish should be perfectly cooked. Long grain rice can take a longer time to absorb and may become overcooked. Overcooked long grain rice can be mushy and unappetizing.
Not Using a Paella Pan
While you can cook paella with other pans that are not made for the recipe, it will not be the same. Take a standard carbon steel pan for example, it is not the same as a stainless-steel pan. For one, your carbon steel pan will be lighter and thinner than a stainless-steel pan. It will also require additional treatment that will make it more non-stick than a basic stainless-steel pan. The biggest advantage is that a paella pan spreads heat faster throughout the metal. It also cools down much faster than thicker metals. This lets you control the heat much easier. Materials like cast iron retain heat much longer, and controlling the heat is not as easy.
Adding Too Much Water or Oil
A simple mistake to make when making paella is adding too much water. As a rule of thumb for making paella, it is always easier to add more water than it is to remove it. You should stick closely with whatever recipe you are given. If for any reason, the paella starts to dry up before everything is done cooking, you can always add a little more broth or water. You should keep a cup or so of water on standby, just in case. While bomba is very absorbent, it cannot absorb an unlimited amount of water.
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