Paella is one of the most sell-known Spanish dishes. This popular dish originated in Valencia but is now known around the world. The original dish consisted simply of available meat and vegetables, but this original dish has now seen many variations. The recipe for paella spread other areas of Spain and then far beyond the borders of Spain as people began to travel to and from the country. As the popularity of the dish increased, so did recipe variations. The preparation and serving became more elaborate in terms of servings and ingredients used. There are even several variations of the dish throughout Spain alone. In the coastal areas, shellfish and a variety of other fish caught locally are often used. Rabbit, mussels and lobster are less common variations but still fairly popular in some areas.
A basic paella recipe is cooked in a large, shallow, flat pan called a paella pot. You can find paella pots on the internet or in kitchen supply stores. Most cook paella dishes on the stove, but it is still cooked over an open flame in some areas as the original recipe calls for. Rice, saffron and olive oil are the three main ingredients. As mentioned earlier, the original dish is made of what vegetables and meats are available. Of course, variations of the dish are easy depending on what types of meats and vegetables are used. The dish can be garnished with rice and fresh vegetables.
To make a basic paella dish, stir fry the meat and vegetables in olive oil. Once the meat and vegetables are done, add rice to the pot followed by boiling stock. Boil this mixture of rice, meat and vegetables and, once it is cooked, remove the pan from the heat. You then need to let the dish set for some time to allow the rice to absorb the remaining liquid.
Traditionally, in Valencia, any meat available was used with rice as the only consistent ingredient. For instance, seafood was often used in the coastal areas while rabbit or duck were used in other areas. The paella recipe initially spread to other regions of Spain, but as people traveled to and from the country, it spread to South America, North America and the Philippines. As its popularity increased, the variations and preparations became much more
This dish continues to be a mainstay of the Valencia people who still take it very seriously. Depending on the ingredients used, it is served with either red wine or white wine. It is typically placed directly on the table and guests serve themselves to the delicious meal. Leftovers are not a concern when it comes to paella since the dish is excellent even when eaten the following day.
Be sure to try local variations to the paella dish as you travel through the regions of Spain and, especially, if you are ever in Valencia!