PAELLA VALENCIA - COOK'S NOTES
For an authentic paella, especially a Valencian one, you really need a barbecue - charcoal or gas will both do fine. If you don't have a barbecue then click here for some advice. You also need a paella pan which is a large flat pan with low sides.
Some of the ingredients used in the authentic Paella Valencia recipe are difficult to find. However, this is not as large a problem as it may at first appear. The reason is that a truly authentic Paella Valencia contains ingredients which roughly equate to the recipe but which are in season and readily available.
For example, the original recipe calls for chicken, rabbit and snails but any truly Spanish cook would use what is to hand. If a chicken had recently been killed than they would not hunt around for a rabbit as well, just a little more chicken compared to normal. So, if snails and rabbit are not readily available in your are then just use chicken. As an aside, snails are often replaced by a sprig of fresh rosemary in traditional Valencian paellas, strange but true.
The problem with adding fresh snails to this paella is two fold. First they require some preparation and cooking before being added to the paella which takes up more time. The second problem is how to eat them! In a restaurant they would be served with a snail fork which enables the flesh to be extracted relatively easily. Without the correct fork the whole process is more messy.
The same goes for the beans used in this recipe but more so. Yes, you need beans but use ones which are in season and readily available. That's what a true paella cook would do in your situation.
The yellow colour of many paellas does not come solely from saffron. In fact, saffron will only add a tinge of yellow colouring to a paella, nothing like the yellow you see in recipe pictures, that is a myth put about by the producers of saffron. Read our article on saffron by clicking here on how to get a good yellow colour to your Valencian paella.
First the snails, if you are including them. Preserved snails are easy. Clean them in running water then place in a pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for four minutes.
Fresh snails should be rinsed clean in running water and added to a pan which contains a tomato roughly chopped, half an onion roughly chopped, 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika and a sprig of rosemary. Cover with water then bring to boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for around an hour. They can then be added to the paella.
Very lightly toast the saffron by placing it in an empty pan on a medium heat for 30 seconds. It will now be very easy to break the saffron into tiny pieces.
The two tomatoes can be substituted for a few chopped canned tomatoes. But the real thing is always best. Cut each tomato in half and then rub each half on a food grater with the skin side in your hand (see the video for a demonstration). Fifteen seconds of so later you be holding just the skin and the flesh will be ready grated.
Top and tail the runner and French beans and then cut into 5cm / 2in pieces.
Top and tail the garlic clove then peel it and finely chop.
Before starting to cook your paella, you may want to browse our article on the principles of cooking a good paella which can be found here.