Apparently, not only Indonesians who eat rice. Rice can be cooked in a thousand different ways and goes well with almost any type of food. Many cultures use rice as a basic ingredient and have unique cooking methods, including one in Spain.
In Catalonia rice is traditionally grown in Marshal areas such as the Pals and river deltas such as the Ebro. And the Valencia region is also famous for its rice products. It’s no wonder that rice is so popular in Spain. The best Spanish rice dish is paella, but there are other delicious Spanish rice dishes worth trying. Find the menu in the following article.
Lovers of traditional Spanish rice will tell tourists that the only dish made from rice known as paella is the paella with the traditional Valencian recipe, paella Valenciana.
However, the roots of the now iconic Spanish rice dish are not what many people imagine. Real Valencian paella contains no seafood and is only about 2 centimeters (less than an inch) deep in the pan.
This dish started as a delicious lunch for the workers in the fields far from the coast. The traditional recipe uses rabbit meat, snails, and large green beans and is cooked over an open fire in a thin circular skillet known as paella.
Yes, so the name of the most famous processed rice in Spain comes from the pan where it is cooked. To avoid confusion, many Spaniards now refer to pans as paellera whereas the word “paella” refers more to food.
Today, there are many delicious variations of paella, including the famous seafood version, paella mixta (between seafood and red meat), and even vegetarian paella.
- Arroz Caldoso
The name of this dish means soup rice. That’s because the casserole rice from Spain is cooked using a skillet and given a lot of gravy, so when it’s cooked, this Spanish specialty rice becomes rice gravy, not dry like paella.
This dish is made using the same type of rice used to make paella, namely arròs bomba. The basic ingredients are rice, meat, vegetables such as potatoes, artichokes or green beans, and garlic.
If paella is an evolution of a fisherman’s diet, Arroz caldoso is an evolution of a farmer’s diet and that’s why meat and vegetables are the main ingredients even though seafood and fish are also popular toppings.
- Arroz al Caldero
Paella is rice that absorbs all the cooking liquid, so the result is not too dry rice. But if you want a typical Spanish rice dish that is so juicy it’s almost soft, look for Arroz al Caldero.
This rice dish is served in a deep black skillet, like a cauldron, and originates from Murcia, which is a region south of Valencia along the Mediterranean Coast.
While paella produces a crispy crust on the bottom of the pan, the Arroz al Caldero stands for its intense flavor and sumptuous creamy texture.
The secret to the spectacular Arroz al Caldero is in its broth, which often contains up to 15 types of fish, and the original Murcia smoked ora peppers.
- Arroz Negro
Also known as arròs Negre in Catalan, Arroz negro is a black rice preparation similar to paella, but the difference is that it is black. The black color is obtained from the addition of squid ink. If you have an adventurous spirit, it won’t be difficult to find this rice restaurant in Barcelona.
One of the recommended restaurants to try this menu is Elche in the Poblesec district. For information in the beautiful Empordà area, they make this black rice without ink.
On the other hand, the locals saute the onions and tomatoes for a very long time until it reaches a point where they turn almost burnt. It takes a lot of patience and experience to make it.
Although it took a long time the taste is very delicious. Too bad it’s not easy to find it in Barcelona and to enjoy it one has to drive for 2 hours North of Barcelona to find it.
- Arroz a Banda
In paella, all ingredients are cooked in the same paella pan. But in “Arroz a banda” all the ingredients are cooked separately and after that, they are mixed in the same pan and served together.
The thick taste of this typical Spanish rice comes from the fish broth used to cook rice. This fish broth is made from small fish and leftover fish caught by fishermen.
Generally, people will make a very thick fish stock to serve as a soup with potatoes. After that, the remaining stock will be used to cook rice and served as a side dish. In this way, fishermen will get two dishes from one cooking process. Another variation of Arroz a banda is “arròs del senyoret” (or del señorito), where fish bones and seafood shells are removed and as a result, the dish is easier to eat and looks more “elegant” to eat.
- Arts a la Cassola
This Catalan recipe is made with a casserole instead of a paella pan as is done in the Valencia area. That’s where the name comes from. This typical Spanish rice dish is also known as arròs del tres (plantation rice) and arròs de pagès (farmer’s rice) because the basic ingredients are typical of the countryside.
This dish includes rice and meat (either rabbit, chicken, pork, or sausage). Often added green beans, mushrooms, artichokes, and other vegetables which usually vary depending on the season.
More modern fish or seafood such as squid or cuttlefish have also been added for added flavor. This recipe is harder to find in restaurants but is very popular in people’s homes.
- Arroz con Bogavante
Outside of Valencia, most menus will refer to the rice dish simply as Arroz. Most are still cooked in the same paella pan, but due to different ingredients and regions, they are not called paella.
Instead, this typical Spanish rice preparation is called “Arroz con …” or rice with whatever main ingredient they choose to add.
Perhaps the most prestigious ingredients are bogavante or lobster. Arroz con bogavante or rice with lobster that is well made is a dish full of flavor. Other popular ingredients are clams, shrimp, chicken, and fish.
- Paella Catalana
According to chef Quim Marqués, who created and patented this somewhat controversial dish, paella Catalana represents the perfect combination of land and sea.
This typical Spanish rice dish consists of an extensive list of ingredients such as traditional turmeric-flavored rice, chicken, crayfish, longaniza sausage, prunes, and depending on the season, artichokes or peas are sometimes added.
Since starting to appear on local restaurant menus, paella Catalana has caused heated debate about what constitutes authentic paella. Despite the different points of view, this dish has become a common dish in the Catalonia region.
- Paella de Marisco
Paella de marisco is the king of Spanish traditional rice dishes and is perhaps the most famous and popular Spanish dish in the world.
This dish originates from Valencia, a region on Spain’s Mediterranean coast between Barcelona and Murcia which is famous for its rice dishes.
There are many varieties of paella in Spain. This type of paella is a combination of chicken, squid, pork, clams, mussels, and shrimp to produce an unforgettable rice dish.
- Arroz al Horno
Arroz al Horno is “Spanish baked rice”. Horno means oven and this dish is another common dish from the rice-growing regions of Valencia. The dish is so loved that one town in the area dedicates an entire festival to the dish.
This meal is another easy dish that’s perfect for any night of the week. This dish combines pork with blood sausage or morcilla, chickpeas, and garlic.
The dish is complemented by fresh tomatoes and light fries making it a family-friendly main dish.
It turns out that rice is also a common food in Spain. There are even some areas that are famous for producing rice there, such as Valencia. The rice dish is also given a variety of mixtures of ingredients so that it adds to the rich taste.
If in Indonesia there are processed rice such as kebuli rice, mixed rice, liwet rice, or oil rice which are famous for their delicacy, the typical Spanish processed rice on this list is no less delicious and worth trying. Happy tasting.