AskDefine | Define paella

Dictionary Definition

paella n : saffron-flavored dish made of rice with shellfish and chicken

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  1. A savory Valencian dish made of rice, cooked on a frying pan with vegetables and meat or shellfish.

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

Paella () is a typical Valencian rice dish from Spain. The origin of the name paella is in the Valencian for frying pan. This word in turn derives from Latin patella and is akin to French poêle, Italian padella, Old Spanish padilla and New Mexican Spanish puela.
Paella is usually garnished with vegetables and meat or seafood. The three key ingredients are rice (usually Calasparra or Bomba varieties.), saffron, and olive oil.

Basic cooking method

For recipes, see :Wikibooks:Cookbook:Paella.
Paella is cooked in a paella pan, which is a large, shallow, flat pan. An important part of the flavor comes from the addition of saffron and the sofrito, or the combination of tomatoes, and garlic (and sometimes peppers). First the meat, and then the vegetables are stir fried in olive oil; subsequently water is added and brought to a boil, and left boiling for half an hour or so. (This, however, is not the sole method utilized in the preparation. Many chefs add the water, allow it to come to the boil and at that moment add the rice.) Later, after checking the obtained broth flavour and adding salt if required, the rice is added. The rice in Valencian paella is never stir-fried in oil, as pilau, though the paella made further southwest of Valencia often is. Once the rice is nearly done, the paella is removed from the heat and left to absorb the remaining water. Traditional paella has a crispy, caramelized, toasted bottom (called socarrat in Valencian) that is considered a delicacy. To achieve a socarrat, one either needs to time the evaporation of the water properly with the completion of the rice being cooked or turn up the heat to high and listen to the bottom of the rice toast. Once the aroma of toasted rice comes from the pan, but before the rice burns, the heat is removed once again. The paella is ready to be served after having cooled for several minutes.

Related paella traditions

It has become a custom for mass gatherings in the Valencian Community (festivals, political campaigns, protests, etc.) to prepare an enormous paella, sometimes to win a mention in the Guinness Book of Records. Ad hoc wide-diameter pans are commissioned for these cases.

Largest paella

The largest paella measured 20m (65ft 7in) in diameter and was made by Juan Carlos Galbis and a team of helpers in Valencia, Spain on 8 March 1992. It was eaten by 100,000 people.
Paella and its variations are typical picnic dishes for the Spanish spring and summer. The dish is also typically consumed during the Falles in Valencia.

Paella contests

In the world of competitive cooking, Paellas are seldom used, save in Spain in the giant Paella King contest. This is an annual competition held in a different town in Galicia, Spain every year. Whoever makes the best Paella is the "Paella King" for the year until the next competition.
In Villamañán during the festival Fiestas de la Zarza, Concurso de Paellas or the Paella Contest, in which all peñas cook paellas and compete for the prize of the best paella of them all.


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paella in Catalan: Paella
paella in Czech: Paella
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paella in German: Paella
paella in Modern Greek (1453-): Παέγια
paella in Spanish: Paella
paella in Esperanto: Paelo
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paella in Hebrew: פאייה
paella in Lithuanian: Paelja
paella in Lombard: Paella
paella in Dutch: Paella
paella in Japanese: パエリア
paella in Norwegian: Paella
paella in Polish: Paella
paella in Portuguese: Paella
paella in Russian: Паэлья
paella in Finnish: Paella
paella in Swedish: Paella
paella in Tagalog: Paelya
paella in Ukrainian: Паейя
paella in Chinese: 西班牙大鍋飯
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