I learned that making Paella isn”t as elusive as others say it is. It”s not complicated. It’s not a dish that is hard to come by. It’s not difficult to prepare. It’s not the heavy dish people always believed it to be, using sticky rice and smothered in tomato sauce. The list goes on.
Authentic Spanish Paella is cooked in layers. First, one must begin with fresh seafood or meat, sofrito or vegetable medley as base, raw paella rice or short grain rice as the core and lastly, good quality stock.
Four Basic Phases in Making Paella:
Sofrito- This is the basis of every self respecting Paella. The sofrito is a mix of vegetables such as garlic, onions, bell pepper, fresh tomatoes and parsley, chopped into small pieces, like brunoise or smaller dice, sautéed in Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Fresh seafood or meat- In making Paella, one must brown the seafood and meat before adding it to the rice mixture. Searing seals in the flavors of the meat and adding it later on to continue the cooking process when the rice is in full simmer.
Paella rice- Raw rice grains is always added into the sofrito and stock added to cook the rice. The use of Paella rice is very important as the short grain rice allows the flavor to go into the rice and makes it fluffier and tastier than using long grain or other semi long grain rice. Sticky rice grain is never used to make authentic paella.
Stock- The use of good quality stock defines the best Paella. Different stocks can be used for different kinds of Paella. Seafood stock or Chicken stock with the basic mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery and bay leaf mix) simmered until it becomes concentrated is generally used.
Paella is really a versatile dish. From kasyna my experience, you can put any ingredient you want. One thing’s for sure, Paella is a dish to be shared and enjoyed as it is cooked in one communal cookware called the Paellera. (Usually made with enamel or cast iron similar to a skillet or a Teflon pan, flat and round in shape.) The ingredients are meant to be showcased like a cast in a play. An array of colors displayed with rice being the central part of the dish. The best paella uses only the freshest of ingredients. Once cooked, just like in a play, it definitely needs applause and probably an encore at the end. One just cannot help but get seconds!
Chin Gallegos, Owner of Pio’s Paella, learned to make Paella since she was 13. She loved it so much so while travelling around Europe, she studied in Barcelona, Spain and fell in love with the Catalan version. She now owns her own catering business that specializes in on the spot cooking of Paella.
For events and online booking, please check out her website at www.piospaella.com.