The History of Paella
Paella is a Spanish rice dish that consists of veggies and meats, often containing saffron as saffron is an abundant spice in Spain. The dish is a link between two cultures in Spain, the Romans influenced the shape of the pan, and the Arabs brought the rice and the absorption cooking method of the rice.
There is a story originating many centuries ago about how a Moor kings living in Southern Spain had servants that would make rice dishes by blending the left-overs from royal banquets in large pots to take home. The word paella originates from the Arabian phrase “baqiyah” which means left-overs. So this dish definitely has an ancient past.
Most who love a good paella will tell you of these Roman and Arabian origins. However, it’s commonly accepted this dish was born in Valencia, on the eastern Spanish coast. The local language is Valenciano, a language closely related to Catalan. Paella is a Valencian word. Most in Spain would say paellera when describing the pan. Patella (pan) is Latin, and an old French paelle is the word for frying pan. As Valenciano is closely related to French, we get the word paella.
It is commonly believed farmworkers first invented paella in Valencia for lunch. Lots of rice and leftover cuts and vegetables, all in a big frying pan for simplicity. During the 19th century, short vacations to the country regions of Spain became a popular pastime for wealthy Valencians. These wealthy Valencians were introduced to the provincial dish! Dressed up a bit with saffron and chicken instead of rabbit and eels, it soon became the classic dish that we recognise as paella Valenciana.
In no time the dish became popular and was served near the coast with seafood and became seafood paella. The most popular version is now seafood, but this is a newer creation and more upmarket as the original dish is rustic. Regardless of the version you prefer, at www.chefshat.com.au they will make sure your favourite dish is cooked in high quality cookware and pans.
What is a Paella Pan?
These pans are wide and shallow. They’re fashioned like this so that the pan has an even spread of heat. This allows liquid to evaporate swiftly and is how the golden-brown crust is created on the rock bottom of your rice. In my opinion, all good dishes should have this crust!
Pans are never purchased with a lid, as lids are designed for trapping moisture, and you don’t want excess moisture in your dish. These pans have wonderful heat conduction, so it is also ideal for many different purposes.
Pan Size Guide:
• four to 6 servings recommended : 16-inch pan
• 6 to 8 servings recommended: 18-inch pan
• 8 to 12 servings recommended: 22-inch pan
• 12 to twenty recommended: 26-inch pan
• 20 to forty servings recommended: 32-inch pan
Chefs Hat sells a wide range of Paella pans, and purchasing one online is affordable and straightforward. We are located near South Morgan Market if you are in Melbourne, Australia; otherwise, you can make a purchase online.
A Typical and Easy Recipe
• 2 cloves of garlic (chopped finely and peeled)
• 1 onion (peeled and chopped)
• 1 carrot (peeled and chopped)
• ½ a gaggle of parsley (chopped)
• 70 g best chorizo (coarsely chopped)
• 2 chicken thigh fillets (chop)
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
• 1 red capsicum or yellow (deseeded and chopped)
• 1 tablespoon tomato purée
• 1 hen inventory cube
• 300 g Long grain or Bomba rice
• 100 g frozen peas
• 200 g frozen or fresh peeled cooked prawns
• 1 lemon
Add oil into your pan on medium heat, peel the garlic, onion, carrot, chorizo, chicken and paprika, and fry for roughly five minutes, stirring regularly.
Add red capsicum and stir through the tomato purée, dissolve with the chicken stock cube, and add the rice and stir for approximately one minute.
Pour in 750ml of boiling water and add ideally freshly grinded black pepper and sea salt. However, powdered pepper and table salt will do.. Reduce down to a simmer for approximately 15 minutes, stirring regularly.
Stir all the ingredients along with the peas and prawns and then leave it on low heat and let it cook through slowly. After 30 minutes, the dish should be cooked, and the bottom should be slightly burnt.
I will stress that these pans are versatile and you are definitely not limited to just making a fantastic paella. You can easily use them as frying pans and practically cook many different dishes in one of these pans. A tip to ensure the longevity of your pan, never use a metal spoon to stir food in the pan as this may lead to scratching and permanent damage.
Risotto is a Mediterranean rice dish that is frequently confused with Paella. Both dishes use the absorption method of cooking rice, however, they are very different. Risotto needs to be constantly stirred, whereas a paella does not require constant stirring. Risotto is best made in a deep pot, and I would not recommend making risotto in a paella pan.
Finally, practice makes perfect. There are many different versions of Paella, I have mentioned Valencia and Seafood, but Squid Paella is also growing in popularity and is dark or black in colour. Also, vegan and vegetarian versions are increasing in popularity. Regardless of your choice, remember to use a Paella pan when making this dish. If you are like me, I use a large-sized pan and invite a few friends and family over on Sunday when I prepare this dish, and the pan is presented on the dinner table. It has a certain appeal and a wow factor. It makes great table conversation and is served best with a nice glass of wine or two.
Now it is time to add some chopped parsley. Serve with lemon wedges, and ENJOY!!