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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Paella Paella!



Last night I attempted to make and try paella for the first time. A family I work for was generous enough to gift me with a full paella set for Christmas. I have always wanted to try paella but never had the occasion. Believe it or not, I even travelled to Barcelona without trying my hand at this Spanish delicacy. I knew this new gift would be my opportunity. Paella originated in Valencia, on the Coast of Spain in the mid-nineteenth century. Paella is traditionally cooked over an open flame in a wide, shallow skillet. Paella is cooked with rice as the binding ingredient, green vegetables, saffron, sweet paprika and seafood or meat. Saffron is the critical ingredient in traditional paella. It is native to Southwest Asia and grows from crocus flowers, and is know as the most expensive and potent herb on the market. Saffron looks like tiny ribbons of orange and red, creating a coloring agent. Saffron has a very strong and unique flavor combining aromas of smoke, earth, sweet, and bitter. It is easy to add too much saffron to a dish because of the high potency.  In my paella I may have added a few strands too many, which nearly overpowered the subtle seafood flavors. I also had trouble using my paella pan. I put the round, shallow pan over two burners on medium heat and began to smell burning. Most recipes tell you to put your pan directly over heat, so I was at a loss as to my next plan of action. Part of the reason behind using a round shallow pan is to crisp the bottom layer of rice. Unfortunately, I had to use a standard frying pan, which didn't give me as much char as I would have liked. The recipe I used was for a seafood paella. The recipe was easy to follow and provided good tips. I would recommend this recipe, with a cautionary warning to stick to their measurements, especially with the saffron. 



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