Authentic Spanish Paella Valenciana is the traditional Valencian paella, formerly known as just Valencian rice or just “the paella”. This is the origin of everything, where all the paella types come from.
What is Paella Valenciana?
Paella Valenciana is one of the most acclaimed, popular, and well-known recipes of Spanish gastronomy. It is the flagship dish of an entire region, which has allowed the Spanish kitchen tradition to cross borders.
The Valencian Paella can be for many people, a ritual and a way of life. And not only the dish, but also for the act of gathering for cooking and eating.
Paella Valenciana History
The Paella Valenciana History is the history of Valencian cuisine. The History of Valencia Paella has a humble origin in the cradle of the rice, Valencia, next to the Albufera lagoon (eastern Spain).
Paella, as a dish, has its own history, with a strong link to the use of rice in the Mediterranean area. Rice came from Asia and was installed in Europe in 330 B.C., when the first communication and commercial routes were established. However, rice was not grown in Spain in large quantities until the arrival of the Arabs at the beginning of the 1st century.
However, it was not until 1324 that the first reference to a stew with rice in the Llibre de Sent Soví, a recipe for rice and almond milk, appears. The ability of rice to “retain aromas” made, at least in these early times, dishes with giblets cooked in a broth.
Already in the 16th century, there are reports of the cultivation of rice in Valencia by Francisco de Paula Martí. He wrote a small essay in which he talks about the paella dish that was already famous: “with anything that is cooked with meat, fish or legumes alone”.
This classic recipe appears in a manuscript from the 18th century in Valencia. By the end of the same century, it was a dish already known in the whole Spanish territory.
Finally, with the “tourist boom” in the 60’s (19th century), the paella Valenciana started to become worldwide famous. However, at the same time, its essence started to be modified and adapted to different cooking needs and tastes.
Luckily, paella Valenciana recipes like mine still keeps all the tradition.
Paella Valenciana Recipe in English
Here you are Paella Valenciana Recipe in English. It might sound weir reading this when all the text is in English, my Spanish English 🙂 However, 95% of the Valencian Paella Recipes in English are fake. Even though the ones saying “authentic” or “real”.
The reasons? I don´t know, maybe because it is not the easiest paella recipe. Or perhaps due to pure ignorance. The truth is that this lack of authentic information is a shame, but here you have the original Valencian paella recipe.
Paella Valenciana Ingredients
The ingredients of the traditional Paella Valenciana or Valencian Paella are few and very specific and seafood or fish are not among them. This authentic dish only allows small variations depending on the season and it has even stipulated the type of firewood to be used for the fire, the one from the orange tree.
🥘 Difficulty: Average
🥘 Servings: 4
🥘 Nutrition: 480 Kcal
What is in authentic Valencian paella?
- 400g (30 Tbs) bomba rice
- 225g (1/2 pound) runner beans
- 100g (1/5 pound) grams butter beans
- 300g (2/3 pound) chopped rabbit (it should include head and entrails)
- 400g (14 oz) chopped chicken (don’t include breast)
- 150g (15.3 oz) grated tomato (but tomato puree is also valid)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- A few strands of saffron
- Water (around 3 times the volume of rice)
These are the recommendations of the Regulatory Council of the Denomination of Origin Arroz de Valencia. However, depending on the region and the season, other few ingredients can be allowed.
Optional allowed ingredients
Following this indications is a must to cook a real Valencian Paella. Although you are free to adapt this recipe, the closer to the authentic paella valenciana, always the better.
How to make Paella Valenciana?
That is the Real Paella Valenciana, the classic
🥘 Total time: 1h 15′
🥘 Prep time: 15′
🥘 Cooking time: 1h
How to make paella Valenciana, the authentic one, is somehow peculiar. Apart from being strict with the ingredients, you will have to vary the way you usually make paellas: the water is added before the rice to make the stock in the paella (the pan).
I’m sure you won’t be wondering how do you make paella Valenciana after this method.
- Chop all the ingredients (but the butter beans)
The meat, the same way than for a stew (you can ask the butcher to prepare it), the runner beans without strands, chopped by hand into two or three pieces. The artichokes (if added) well cleaned and in around 8 pieces, according to their size.
- Sauté the meat and the vegetables in abundant extra virgin olive oil.
Be careful with the heating power, this is not a fast process
- Add the meat pieces and sauté until browned
Don’t let the ingredients get burned
- Add the salt and the sweet paprika
- Add the water, it’s time now to make the stock
It is better to add too few than too much, as we could always add some more water if we see if there is no stock left and the rice isn’t cooked yet. We need three times the volume of water than rice. Although it is the experience that will make you adjust and perfect these quantities.
- Let the ingredients cook
Around 25 or 30 minutes
- Add the saffron
We must be tasting the stock in order to know if it has enough salt or we need to add more.
- Add the rice…
…diagonally and in the shape of a cross as you can see in the photos. Then, distribute the rice evenly through the paella.
- Let everything cook between 18 to 20 minutes
After this time, the rice must be completely dry and loose.
- Add some sprigs of rosemary, which should be removed before serving.
That is optional, but I strongly recommend it.
- Now it is the socarrat time
A good paella should have socarrat, this downside layer of almost-burned and crunchy rice. Raise the heat to the maximum for one minute and toast the rice.
- Turn off the heat and let the paella rest
Let it repose for a few minutes covered with a large cotton piece of fabric. 5-8 minutes out of the fire will be enough.
And enjoy! You already know how to cook paella Valenciana 😉
To end up, a tip: in order to slightly ease the process, you can prepare the stock in advance. It won’t be 100% authentic but I would recommend it for beginners.