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What makes a paella perfect

Paella, with its centuries of local tradition and global ingredients, can seem even more daunting than trying to find space in the kitchen for an 18-inch pan. That’s why many Sydneysiders choose peace of mind and go with a reputable paella catering company.

As is the case with most things traditional, paella (also known as paella Valenciana) is showered by debate regarding its inception, process, and even “identity.” That said, there are a few things we can be certain about.



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What is paella?

Paella refers to both the Valencian rice dish and the big two-handled pan used to prepare it. Paella and pan are the same – except one is Spanish and the other English (thus “paella pan” is redundant – technically). But, for the sake of clarity, it makes more sense to use it.

The pan is what contributes to paella’s unique texture – thin and shallow. A paella allows for quick and even cooking, producing a dry rice dish (i.e., “arròs seco”) with separate grains.

When the rice is al dente, the cooking liquid is fully absorbed. The result? A paella that's more like fried rice than creamy risotto.

7 essential ingredients that make a paella perfect for your Sydney event

Granted, you can put as many ingredients in your paella as you want, from rabbit and snails to the abundance of seafood popular in coastal regions. That said, what usually makes a paella perfect is the following essential ingredients:

#1 rice

Paella rice, arguably the most crucial ingredient, should be very absorbent short- or medium-grain rice, never long-grain. Why? Well, for one, short-grain rice absorbs more water before turning mushy, helping the caterer achieve the ideal, dry texture.

Kinds of rice that make for perfect paella catering in Sydney include Spanish Bomba or Calasparra varieties, as well as the more generally available Italian Arborio rice.

#2 Sofrito

Just like mirepoix in French cuisine, sofrito is an aromatic base that serves as the foundation for paella’s flavours. Some of the most common ingredients in Spanish sofrito include green or red peppers, garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes.

#3 Stock or broth

A good broth can transform your paella from good to great. Meat paellas often use chicken stock, whereas seafood paellas use fish stock.

#4 Spices and herbs

Also known as “red gold,” saffron is a spice that has long been prized for its unique flavour, aroma, and vibrant colour – and is the most important spice for a paella. It’s what gives the dish its rich, golden colour.

Saffron has a long, long history in Spain, dating all the way back to the country’s Moorish occupation in the eighth century. Saffron was introduced to Spain by the Moors and rapidly became a popular spice in Spanish cuisine.

#5 Seafood

Prawns, shrimp. Clams, mussels, crayfish, squid, and langoustines are all common additions that make for perfect seafood paella.

#6 Meat

Although rabbit, chicken, and snails are the most common paella meats, pork and Spanish chorizo have also gained popularity. (Paella purists, conversely, argue that the chorizo flavour can distort the taste of a complex paella).

#7 Vegetables

Traditional paella Valenciana includes three types of beans: Ferrara (string bean), Garofalo (lima bean), and Tavella (white bean). However, outside of Valencia, including Sydney, most preparations include green beans, peas, lima beans, or other types of white beans.

When in season, artichoke hearts are a popular addition to paella. Vegetarian paella may feature different vegetables, including the desired calçot (a type of green onion known in Spain).

The Paella Amor difference: How we make our paellas in Sydney

Here at Paella Amor, we’re not just slinging rice and seafood. We're crafting culinary experiences that transport you from Sydney to the sun-drenched shores of Spain. Our secret? It's a symphony of tradition, meticulous technique, and a love for the art of paella.


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  1. Details matter. We begin by awakening the saffron, gently coaxing its vibrant colour and aroma with a touch of hot water. This precious ingredient is the soul of our paella, where we infuse each grain of rice with its unique essence.

  2. The sizzle. Our proteins – tender chicken, succulent chorizo, and plump shrimp – hit the pan with a satisfying sear, locking in juices and building a foundation of rich flavour.

  3. The aromatics are our secret weapon. We meticulously sauté onions, garlic, and tomatoes, allowing their natural sweetness to meld with the smoky paprika, creating a base that underpins the entire dish.

  4. The stock. We carefully introduce the chicken stock, its warmth embracing the saffron-infused water. The chicken gets a chance to flaunt its skin side up, and therefore add a touch of golden beauty to the scene.

  5. The rice: our specially sourced Bomba rice. Each grain is a tiny treasure, ready to absorb the vibrant broth and transform it into the heart and soul of the paella.

  6. The simmer. With a gentle simmer, the rice gradually absorbs the liquid, becoming fluffy and tender. The clams nestle in, preparing to release their briny essence, while the shrimp gracefully return to the heat, ensuring they remain perfectly cooked.

  7. The socarrat. We crank up the heat for a fleeting moment, creating that legendary socarrat: a layer of crispy, caramelised rice that adds an irresistible textural contrast to the fluffy interior.

  8. A moment of rest. We allow the paella to settle, letting the flavours meld and intensify. Each bite becomes an explosion of textures and aromas, a testament to the care and precision poured into every step.

This is the Paella Amor difference. It's not just about ingredients; it's about passion, tradition, and the unwavering pursuit of culinary perfection. So, come join us on a journey to the heart of Spain. We guarantee it'll be a paella experience you'll never forget. Give us a call at 0434917069 or send us an email at info@paellaamor.com.au to book your favourite paella catering company today.

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