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What Does Paella Taste Like and What Gives it That Flavor?

seafood paella in paella pan laid out on wooden surface

Paella comes in many different recipes that are traditional, modern, or experimental fusions. If you have never tried paella, then you are probably wondering what the recipe tastes like. After all, it can troublesome to have to cook a recipe you are unsure if you will like or not. Well, before going into what paella taste like, we should note that not all paellas taste the same since there are drastically different versions of the dish. While certain ingredients may be the same across different recipes, main elements like the meat and broth will differ. The three main types of paella you will come across are:

  • Chicken Paella
  • Seafood Paella
  • Vegetable Paella

What Does Chicken Paella Tastes Like?

Chicken paella is one of the simpler paella recipes you can make. It only requires the use of chicken thighs as the meat compared to seafood paella that uses multiple sources of meat. In a seafood paella, you could have 3 types of shellfish alone in a dish. Chicken thighs are used in paella because they are fatter and keep moisture a bit better than chicken breast. Chicken breast can end up dry, even in a paella. The flavors of the onions, garlic, and saffron typically take center stage in a chicken paella dish. A chicken paella typically has a light smokey flavor (smoked paprika is often used), with a strong chicken flavor from the chicken broth and thighs! The flavor is typically not extreme however, So, do not expect an overly salty dish but rather one with a mix of flavors lightly blending.

The Flavors of Seafood Paella

A big part of the flavor of paella come from the broth used to cook the rice. Seafood paella uses seashell broth or fish stock instead of chicken broth or stock. This infuses the entire dish and the rice with a saltier seafood like aroma and flavor. The taste of shellfish is vital in seafood paella dishes. The dish often includes very seafood tasting meats like octopus and clams. While you might expect a fishy like flavor, seafood paella rarely uses fish like tuna. There is a slight taste difference between shellfish foods like crab, clams, etc. compared to fish. Fish meat, when separate from the bone, can also have a neutral or light flavor compared to the strong taste of clams.

How Does Vegetable Paella Taste?

Vegetable paella is another delicious type of paella you may come across. While it may be vegan or vegetarian, it is not always. For example, you could have a vegetable paella that uses chicken broth or stock so it would no longer be vegan. So, depending on the specific recipe, the ingredients and specific type may vary. However, vegetables are vegetables. Any paella recipe lacking meat that includes various veggies as the key thing to eat is a vegetable paella. There can be many reasons for this, such as dietary restrictions. If you are trying to avoid meat, then a vegetable paella is the way to go.

Vegetable paellas can still have meat like taste to them, depending on the ingredients and spices. For example, the saffron and smoked paprika in the dish can give certain vegetables like artichokes a meaty like flavor. While not like real meat, the flavors can still appeal to those who eat meat but want to try vegetarian or vegan dishes.

Where Paella Gets Its Flavor

seafood paella in paella pan laid out on wooden surface

Paella is a unique recipe because it calls for the use of saffron. Unlike many other recipes, use this spice to get the authentic flavor of paella. It is an essential and special spice for the dish. Saffron has an extraordinarily complex taste that makes it stand out among other ingredients. Think of a flavor you would recognize instantly and that is exactly what saffron is like. In fact, the strands are so full of aroma and flavor that recipes typically call for only a couple strands. It has a strong nuanced flavor that is very floral and earthy. It also has a hint of sweetness. Saffron not only gives paella its unique taste but also gives it the golden color many people are used to seeing. Sometimes, smoked paprika can add to the color, causing a darker orange color.

Buy Kitchenware / Cookware and Find Paella Recipes at Machika Today!

Living a happier and healthier life can start with getting into the habit of cooking and eating your own meals. Not only can you make healthier food at home, you can do so for much less than the cost of ordering in or eating out. If you are looking to make delicious authentic paella, then you can’t go wrong with a Machika Enameled Paella Pan. We also sell more affordable Polished Steel Paella Pans and other kitchenware and cookware to improve your kitchen. Get the day started right with Machika in your kitchen!

Maria Perez machika blog writer blurb.

Raekwon
Raekwon 22/03/2021

Great article! Paella is my favorite dish for sure. Nothing like a good chorizo chicken paella at the end of a day!

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