The Authentic paella
Valenciana recipe 

By Edu Valor / Author - Spanish Chef

World-famous and controversial in Spain! That's what the authentic paella Valenciana recipe is. Every town seems to have their own mix of ingredients.

Probably the longest-debated controversy in the country and outside! You'd understand if you knew how often the dish changes appearance. 

There's a lack of authenticity! Nothing more and nothing less! But, they did something about it to protect the dish, as described below.

I sometimes smile when the Mediterranean pride comes out for something like a national dish!

You see this trait too with our French and Italian friends. I think it's interesting. It shows shared passion, and we don't want it any other way.

Paella Valenciana on a plateFreshly made paella Valenciana without the snails.

Listen! The ingredients of a paella were always loosey-goosey, even in the old days. What they don't tell you is that traditional recipes were as various. How do you protect the paella Valenciana if it's not defined?

Well, you involve the people of Valencia to see how they make it. Today there are 10 essential ingredients and other optional ingredients to protect the authentic tradition.

Understand this well, there's not one unique paella Valenciana recipe. They estimate around 200 varieties.

Every town has their own version. But you still need to identify it as a paella Valenciana just by looking at it. 

Often, families use whatever is directly available in and around their kitchen or region. In mine, snails are not always at hand. It's actually not the most common ingredient according to a study.

The scientists' and
Chefs' revenge

The dish was losing its merit and tradition. It was turning into something unidentifiable having quite a few professionals thinking.

After all, paella is the Spanish dish par excellence, symbolizing togetherness and celebration. Actually, paella is the pan itself and over time became the name of the rice dish.

I guess they had enough of scattered recipes lacking the spirit of authenticity. There was a need for revindication and a study was bound to happen. See it here!

Region-wide research by the UCV found the following ingredients to be essential:

  1. Short-grain rice (Arroz de Valencia)
  2. Chicken
  3. Rabbit
  4. Saffron. Saffron strings add to the taste.
  5. Garrofón beans (a type of lima bean, similar to butter beans)
  6. Flat string beans
  7. Extra virgin olive oil
  8. Water
  9. Salt
  10. Tomato

So, leaving out snails ( a traditional ingredient) will not make it less authentic, as long as you stay true to the essence of this beloved Spanish classic.

Like many people, I don't care for snails unless they are small ones. I do like to add taste to my dishes with garlic and paprika. 

Again, the above ingredient list describes one way to make the authentic paella Valenciana.

Personally, I think they should include other traditional recipes too. Like the ones with eel, sausages and meatballs.


The Authentic Paella Valenciana Recipe

Ingredients for 4 servings

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 18 minutes for the Bomba rice, approx. 45 minutes to 1 hour total.
*Measurements in metric and USA Imperial system. For British/Canadian measurements please use the metric conversion calculator.

Use preferably fresh or frozen white beans. Dry beans need to be soaked at least 12 hours or overnight and boiled 5 minutes. When done, drain and rinse thoroughly. Canned/jarred bean preserve don't need to be soaked!

  • 500g/18 oz chicken, cut
  • 400g/14 oz rabbit, cut
  • 150g/6 oz garrofón beans (white large beans, butter beans are good too)
  • 250g/9 oz flat string beans, cut pinky finger long
  • 20-25g seasalt
  • 1.3L/44fl oz water
  • 200g/7.5oz tomato puree or cubes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 400g/14 oz Bomba rice
  • 15-20 saffron strings or 1 tsp yellow food dye
  • 2-3 tsp paprika powder
  • 12 snails (optional)
  • 100ml olive oil (Extra Virgin)

Let's make an Authentic Paella

  1. Pour the oil in the pan and sprinkle the salt over it. 
  2. Brown the meats well on medium fire. The meat should be crispy. When using snails, add them at the end of the browning.
  3. Turn fire to medium-low. Push the meats (with snails) to the sides of the pan and add the tomato, garlic and paprika. Sauté until the juice from the tomatoes evaporates. This is important tastewise! Some chefs even brown the tomato sauté.
  4. Add string- and white beans. Stir everything together with the tomato and meats.
  5. Pour some of the water and cook for a few minutes. Stir to combine.
  6. Turn up the fire to medium-high and pour in the rest of the water. Wait until it boils!
  7. Taste the broth. Add salt if necessary.
  8. Add the bomba rice and saffron. Stir and spread ingredients evenly over the pan. 
  9. When broth starts to boil, cook for 10 minutes. Do not stir the rice from now on! Taste again if you want! 
  10. Turn down the fire to medium-low and cook for another 8 minutes.
  11. If you want the socarrat, insert a narrow spatula until you hit the bottom of the pan. Is the rice browned underneath? If not, raise the fire to high and cook for another 90 seconds to 2 minutes. 
  12. Turn fire to low. Insert the spatula in the rice to do another check.
  13. Turn off the fire and cover the pan with aluminum foil, cooking cloth or a lid. Let it rest for 5 minutes.



Authentic Spanish paella Valenciana in a panA classic ready to be shared and enjoyed.

TIPS: 

  • Sauté the tomato with garlic and paprika well. It'll enhance the taste.
  • Adding the salt in the beginning will limit browning of the pan as well as oil splatters.
  • Another medium-grain rice than Bomba may have different cooking time.
  • Taste before adding the rice.
  • Use meat with bones, it adds taste.
  • Bean preserves do NOT need to be soaked.

What you will need

  1. A paella pan for 4 servings*
  2. A paella burner*
  3. Spatula
  4. Meat knife
  5. Paring knife

*The paella pan with burner can be replaced with an electric paella pan for indoor (or outdoor) cooking. Never use a gas burner indoors!!

How difficult is it to make?

There are a few things to consider if you want to make this authentic paella Valenciana recipe a delicious one.

Making the dish is an art. Luckily, one that is fairly easy to master. After a couple of times, you should understand how to make it to perfection.

As you may know, recipe procedures like the above are indicative. I don't know what equipment you use, under which atmospheric conditions, or what ingredients you use.

There's an important difference between stale and fresh ingredients.

With some cooking skills, your common sense will make the authentic paella Valenciana recipe a success.

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Edu in the kitchen

Welcome to my site. My name is Edu and I'm here to pass on my Spanish recipes for you to savor! As a Spanish cook I enjoy sharing my heritage with others, especially foods. The ones our parents and grandparents prepare in Spain.

Want to try other
Paella Recipes?

Spanish vegetables paella on a platePaella de Verduras (vegetables paella)
Authentic Spanish crayfish or crawfish paellaPaella de Cangrejo de Rio (crawfish paella)
Spanish chicken paella on a platePaella de Pollo (chicken paella)

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