The Stirring Tip For Perfectly Crispy Paella

When you think of Spanish dishes, the first thing that comes to mind is probably paella. If you're unfamiliar, paella is a one-pan rice dish that contains a mix of meats, seafood, vegetables including beans, herbs, and spices, as well as sofrito (an aromatic base which usually consists of a mix of peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes). It's all cooked in stock or broth using just one pot — "paella" the Catalan word for "pan." Ideally, the rice in the paella will be quite crispy, making for a satisfying texture, which just so happens to also be delicious. So how do you achieve that crispiness with the rice?

It's actually quite simple. Once you've added the rice, then no more stirring. If you don't stir, then the bottom layer of the rice will get nice and crispy. There's actually a name for paella's crispy crust, socarrat, which comes from the word socarrar and means to burn or to scorch. Additionally, paella should be cooked over high heat on the stove. It's also possible to bake paella in the oven, although some stovetop cooking is also required. In this case, it'll bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Now that you know how to make sure your paella has that crispy socarrat, you may be wondering a vital question: What should I put in the paella?

Paella is extremely versatile

One of the best parts of paella is how versatile it is — you can essentially include whichever meats, vegetables, and seafood that you prefer. If you'd like to go the super traditional route, then you can look to paella Valenciana. The dish originated in Valencia, the eastern coastal Spanish city, which consists of rabbit, snails, chicken thighs, lima beans, green beans, and saffron, as well as some herbs and spices, all cooked in chicken broth.

If you're less inclined to stick to a traditional recipe, then you may want to opt for pork — potentially chorizo, specifically — as many more modern recipes of the dish do. You could also make seafood the star of the show instead. For our classic seafood paella recipe, we include squid, prawns, and mussels, as well as chorizo, and cook it in fish stock instead of chicken stock.

There are even ways to make the dish vegetarian. For example, you can easily opt for vegetable broth and choose whatever fillings you want. You can reach for artichokes for a hearty and substantial element. Or, perhaps you'd want to incorporate tofu into the mix. Whatever ingredients you end up choosing, don't forget to let the rice sit without stirring to make sure you get that crispy bottom — paella, whatever the recipe, isn't the same without the socarrat.