If you read the article on the Paella, you know already about its origin and different ingredients with which you may enrich its flavor. Nevertheless, we haven’t told you yet that there are VERY different ways of preparing this appetizing rice dish and here we present you our favorite selection: black rice, soupy rice and fideuá. Less popular and less known to foreigners, but as tasty as the original Paella- we might even dare to say more special and surprising…

So, have a family gathering or meet up with friends and let yourself be delighted by these dishes. Just watch out, one of them might get your new favorite!

Checkout our post How to choose the right Paella Pan. All you need to know.

“Arroz caldoso”- Soupy rice
This version is very similar to what “normal” paella is like: a rice dish with meat or fish and vegetables. The only difference is the amount of stock used to cook the rice and its ingredients. In a paella everything is cook long enough so the liquid evaporates completely, leaving over a kind of “sticky rice”. In case of the soupy rice, more stock is added, so in the end you have a flavorful broth with rice and the other ingredients used. Especially in winter time, it is a wonderful alternative to paella, because it warms you up, it is very soft and creamy and a real burst of flavors.

arroz caldoso spain food sherpas

Pablo Neustadt _ ©ICEX

Even more similar to paella than the soupy rice is the “fideuá”. Here is one tip- “fideo” means noodle in Spanish… So it is basically the same as paella, but using thin, short noodles instead of rice. It does bring a different nuance to it, but above all, a different texture and sensation while eating it. Nowadays it got a real fancy tapa version in modern restaurants. You also need to know that in earlier times these dishes were cooked over an open orange tree or pine wood fire, which adds a special taste to it.


Toya Legido _ © ICEX

“Arroz negro”- Black rice
Last but not least, here we have the “black rice”. Visually the most interesting one, since (how its name states) it is completely black. The ingredients themselves are very similar to a fish paella, consisting of rice and seafood, but in this case the special and indispensable key element is the squid.

Not only do you use its meat, but as well the ink.

black rice

Toya Legido _ © ICEX

Squids have two ink sacs, which contain a natural colorant used a lot in the Mediterranean cuisine like in Italy or Spain of course. It almost doesn’t add flavor to the dish, although it makes it more flavorful and you obtain a nice color (it is also said that it softens a little bit the ingredients). Finally everything is rounded up perfectly with some fresh alioli (garlic mayonnaise). Give this one definitely a try despite its somewhat imposing appearance- it truly is a delicacy.

Apart from this, while preparing paella or one of these special treats, bear in mind that there are 3 essential elements: “sofrito”, saffron and “majadito”. The “sofrito” is a slowly cooked vegetable sauce made out of finely chopped tomato, pepper, onion and garlic, fried in olive oil.

It is used in almost all Mediterranean cultures in some form or another and is frequently used as a base for broths, stews or, like in this case, rice dishes; The dried stigmas of the crocus flower, or Saffron, are very important in order to achieve the desired yellow color of the paella; And finally the “majadito” refers to a combination of ingredients mashed in a mortar, liberating like this all oils and flavors. Garlic is of course always crushed up, together with parsley, saffron, white wine or paprika. This is then added to the sautéed vegetables, meat, “sofrito” and rice, to really boost the flavors.

Let yourself be surprised by this great diversity and try new things! It’s absolutely worth it!

Why not be surprised by us? Join our Paella Cooking Workshops

About the Author: Spain Food Sherpas

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