I found out this week that Spanish people can get really rather passionate when it comes to paella. One of the biggest no-no's is Chorizo. DO NOT put chorizo in your paella unless you want to get battered.
So what should go into a paella? And, more importantly - how the hell do you even go about making it? Well, I took a trip down to local independent Spanish restaurant La Bandera to pick up one of their excellent new PAELLA KITS, and speak to them about creating The Perfect Paella...
The Paella Kit contains most of the ingredients that you need to go about making a delicious and authentic dish - all that you need to add is some meat, vegetables and some heat - depending on your preferences of course!
Sat atop of lovely new steel Paella Pan, the kit contains bomba rice, paella stock, sweet smoked paprika and some extra virgin olive oil - all sourced and shipped over from Spain - so you know that you're going to be making something authentic here.
As mentioned, all you need to do is add some vegetables and meat or fish - but what should you add? Well, Chorizo is a big NO, and if you want to have a truly traditional paella, you should use rabbit!
In Valencia, you won't find any fish or shellfish in your paella. It's rabbit, perhaps with some chicken and even snails - and that's it. Ultimately paella is primarily a RICE DISH - with all the other things as additional extras dependent on where you are in Spain. Regional variations will exist, such as seafood paella in a fishing village, but one thing will always remain the same; the rice.
So alongside your choice of meat, you're going to need some vegetables, most noticeably onions, garlic and peppers. One other ingredient is also very important - GARRAFO - or butter beans to us English speakers. Seasoning wise - it's always best to be conservative with your smoked paprika - you shouldn't go liberally throwing it on there with blissful abandon.
Finally, squeeze a bit of lemon over the top when it's cooked and you're all set. Paella completed and ready to scoff.
But how do you ACTUALLY cook it? Well, there's many differing schools of thought on the perfect way to make the dish, but the team at La Bandera suggest a combination of both hob and oven cooking to get the perfect paella.
Using your paella pan, you should cook everything on the hob first, browning the meat, cooking the vegetables, adding the stock and finally the rice. Then you should pop it into the oven for around 20 minutes, before finishing it off on a high heat on the hob again at the end.
The final flourish on the high hob will create what the Spanish refer to as "sucarat" - the bottom most burnt layer of a paella which sticks to the pan while cooking. Much like the crispy layer of cheesy mash on the top of a Cottage Pie, this is one of the best bits of the whole thing!
So there you have it - advice on creating the best paella in the world. Here's the instructions in more detail for you to follow along at home...
La Bandera's Perfect Paella
- Paella Making Kit (bomba rice, paella stock, sweet smoked paprika, extra virgin olive oil)
- Meat/Seafood - rabbit, chicken, duck, mussels, monkfish
- Butter Beans
- 1/2 red pepper
- 1/2 green pepper
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 onion
- 300ml of water
Slice the red and the green pepper into little dices, and the garlic and the onion in thin slices.
Heat the olive oil in the Paella Pan on a medium heat. Add the garlic and the onion, stir for 2 minutes.
Add the green and the red pepper and cook for 5 minutes on a low heat.
Add to the pan your meat or fish and cook until they are golden.
Add the paprika, salt to taste and the paella stock.
Fill the pan with water, cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly until it starts boiling.
Add the rice and spread it evenly. Let it cook for 10 minutes in a medium heat on the hob.
Transfer paella pan to the oven to continue to cook for 10 minutes.
Finally, place back on the hob and cook on high until the rice is soft. Squeeze lemon on top and serve.