Paella is a dish that originated in the mid-19th century near lake Albufera in Valencia, Spain. Paella is often considered a Spanish national dish, however Spaniards consider it a regional Valencian dish. There are three widely known types of paella: Valencian paella, seafood paella and mixed paella. The Valencian paella contains white rice, green vegetables, meat (rabbit, chicken, duck), land snails, beans and seasoning. The seafood paella replaces meat and snails with seafood and excludes beans and green vegetables. The mixed paella is a combination of meat, seafood, vegetables and sometimes beans.
In Moorish Spain people often made casseroles of rice, fish and spices for family gatherings and religious feasts. Later it became customary to combine rice with vegetables, beans and dry cod.
In the 18th century Valencians cooked paellas using rice, marsh rat, eel and butter beans. In the 19th century as standards rose the ingredients for the paella changed as well, it began being prepared with rabbit, chicken, duck, seafood and sometimes snails. The name of paella comes from the paellera, a flat round pan used for cooking it. The first to call it like that was a local Spanish newspaper in 1840 in order to refer to the recipe.
On the Mediterranean coast Valencians used seafood instead of meat and beans to make paella. Later the Spaniards out of Valencia mixed seafood in the original Valencian recipe and thus appeared the mixed paella.
The paella is usually cooked outdoors, over a wood fire. In order to make paella, first meats like chicken, pork, rabbit or seafood like clams, shrimps, mussels, crayfish or squid are sauteed. The olive oil is added and is seasoned with onions, garlic and herbs. Then rice, tomatoes and saffron are cooked, simmering over a low heat. Finally, the meats are mixed in and everything is garnished with peas, pimientos and other vegetables.
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