Rice | Paella and other specialties
Hardly any dish is as almost synonymous with Spain as paella.
However, the original paella comes from Valencia, is only there in the region the „national dish“ and is maintained today in many different variants. The name, by the way, derives from Latin „patella“, large plate or shallow bowl of metal, and entered Catalan as „paella“. Paella today refers to both the dish and the typical pan, only rarely do you hear „paellera“. The original „Paella Valenciana“ consists among other things of rice, which is colored golden with saffron, further chicken, rabbit, green beans (Bajoqueta), lima beans (Garrofó), grated tomatoes, water, broth, olive oil and regionally one adds still rosemary, snails, gar- lic, paprika powder and lemon wedges.
In „Paella de Marisco“, for example, calamari, mussels, clams and shrimps do the honors. In addition, there are countless „paella variations“ with secret recipes, because the Valencians, whether at home or in the restaurant, have created „their“ paella, which is prepared with much love and devotion. In the meantime, however, there are vegetarian-vegan paella delights even in meat- and fish-loving Spain.
The secret of an excellent paella is the rice and its relationship to the liquid. Because that is the prerequisite for a perfect socarrat, the highly aromatic crust at the bottom of the paella pan. Conjuring it up requires a great deal of experience and intuition. Above all, the rice must not be stirred, but left to cook.
However, rice is not only transformed into paella. Rather, Spanish cuisine, especially around the rice-growing areas, is full of aromatic and varied recipes in which rice plays a leading role. The Costa Blanca in particular has fallen in love with the white grain, and some 300 dishes bear witness to how varied rice can be brought to the table. On the coast, variants with fish and seafood are particularly popular. There is, for example, „Arroz a Banda“, which is prepared with rock fish and is popular around Alicante. For „El Cadero“, for example, rice is prepared with monkfish, conger eel, mullet or scorpion fish in a copper or iron cauldron. Visually surprising is „Arroz negro,“ a paella-like dish with squid. The black ink of the squid is used for coloring and results in the typical black color of this rice specialty. Further inland, rice dishes with meat and vegetables dominate, such as „Arroz con Costra“ – rice with a crust made of beaten and baked eggs. „Arroz al Horno“ is a typical stew whose ingredients vary regionally. However, potatoes, black pudding, chickpeas, tomatoes and pork ribs are always part of it.
Rice, however, can be not only savory, but also sweet. Famous is the very soft cooked rice pudding, „arroz con leche“, with sugar and cinnamon, which is one of the most popular traditional desserts. Milk rice croquettes with nougat cream, rice cakes, rice soufflé or puffed rice with orange cream are just a few of the delicacies that make the mouth water and round off a meal.
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