Paella...The Most Common Dish in Spain?
Just as traditional as sangria, a bullfight, or the flamenco, paella is a well-known and classic rice dish associated with Spain. Variations of this dish can be found all over the world and the Iberian Peninsula, although its roots come from the South of Spain.
Key ingredients to the creation of great paella are saffron, olive oil, and quality rice such as bomba or the calasparra variety. Traditionally, Valencian paella consists of white rice, vegetables, beans, snails, and meat such as rabbit, chicken, and duck. The Seafood variation is typically very different and pairs expertly cooked rice with fresh mollusks, prawns, and fish. The Mixed paella is commonly a combination of meat, seafood, and vegetables left up to the discretion of the chef.
The pan traditionally used to cook paella is round and shallow, and made of polished steel with large handles on the sides. Paella is a Catalan word derived from the Latin word for pan, patella. To cook perfect paella, orange and pine branches along with the cones are said to produce an aromatic smoke that infuses with the dish as it is cooked over an open flame.
Although, the most traditional and famed paellas are generally created in the South of Spain, each region has adopted the recipe to highlight local products. Here in the Basque Country the heavily stocked ocean is perfect for succulent and delicious fresh seafood paellas.
Despite the fact that paella is not a traditionally Northern dish, chefs still enjoy competing against each other to see whose paella reigns supreme. In 2001 Jan Galbis of Valencia created the world’s largest paella, which fed around 110,000 people!