Saturday, January 1, 2011


Paella is considered a Spanish dish originating from Valencia, Spain. I remembered my husband Shawn telling me of his first experience when he was in Valencia. His Spanish co-workers introduced him to the dish which was cooked over an open fire and once it is cooked, everyone just gathered round the dish and eat it off the special paella pan. He had the seafood paella.

Tonight I made seafood paella too but just with shrimps and bay scallops. I received the special paella pan for Christmas and decided to try it out. The paella pan has "dimples" at the bottom which is supposed to promote even cooking. Preparing the sofrito and getting the seafood ready is not the difficult part, the difficult part is cooking the rice in a home kitchen. The pan diameter is about 15 inches and the fire from my stove is only about 5-6 inches diameter, at the most, so getting the rice cooked on the sides of the pan is a challenge to say the least.

So what I did was rotate the pan so the edge of the pan is over the fire every few minutes - this way the rice gets cooked around the edges and not just at the center. Here you see the broth bubbling over the rice in the paella pan.

Another challenge of cooking paella in this large pan is that it requires low heat so the broth will just simmer while the rice cooks. If you have it over high heat, the broth will evaporate too quickly and you will end up with uncooked rice. Covering the pan with foil helps too as it will trap the heat in and cook the rice evenly.

Paella traditionally will have a hard crust formed at the bottom of the pan like burnt rice but this is considered the most favored part of eating paella. This hard crust is called "Socarrat".

Once the rice is about ready, I added the bay scallops and shrimps and the finished product is below:

Since the right way to eat paella is to just gather round the dish and eat directly from the pan, we did that as well. It was delicious!


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