When you think about Spain and its gastronomy, for sure the most popular dish pops up in your head: the Paella. Not only is it known worldwide, but it’s a real culinary icon.
Many of you have tried it, whereas others might find it too typical or made “just” for tourists- indeed, there can be a huge difference in quality. So don’t fall for the restaurants where you don’t see locals eating, but share authentic, traditional and absolutely mouth-watering seafood Paella … made with lots of love, seasonal ingredients and the best local produce.
(Re-) Discover this delicious culinary evergreen!! Check out our Spanish Seafood Paella Recipe here.
The origin of the paella, like all dishes of the popular cuisine of an area, is found in the combination of elements and ingredients that people could gather in their surroundings.
A countryside full of rich vegetable gardens, saltwater lagoons (“albuferas”) and with access to the coastline.
This explains why the most popular Paella is the one with Fish and Seafood, since on the coast of Valencia (where it Paella comes from) these are the freshest and best ingredients you can find.
Nevertheless, in the interior of this zone, vegetables grow abundantly and are incorporated in “this paella version”, along with the usual raising of chickens and rabbits. Actually it is to be said that the “original” Paella was prepared with eel, snails and green beans and was already a special treat back in the 18th century. So as you can imagine, there are plenty of recipes, all authentic and true to their heritage.
But there are more authentic and special elements like the “garrofón” or lima/butter bean, apart from spices like bay leaf, thyme, rosemary or saffron. But basically, you can add anything you want to paella: artichokes, green beans, any type of meat, fish, Serrano ham, ñoras, vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms etc.
Another curiosity is that the name “Paella” actually doesn’t refer to the food itself, but to the pan it is cooked in! So is the fact that in the past it was the typical dish men prepared by themselves for family festivals or bigger events, a tradition that in many cases still prevails.
Check out our post How to choose the right Paella Pan. All you need to know.
And a last insider tip: the most tasty part of the paella is the crunchy one, stuck to the pan- the best way to get it when you are in company, is to elegantly dissimulate and then to scratch is off with a wooden spatula and simply enjoy!
This and much more you can enjoy in our Paella Cooking Class in Malaga.
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