A Culinary Journey to Valencia

Valencia sits on the banks of the Turia River on the Medterrannean coast of Spain . It is one of the most important industrial cities in Spain . But it is Valencia’s agriculture that is responsible for it’s worldwide fame .

It was founded in 138 as a Roman colony but truly blossomed under the Moors and their development of the region as an agricultural center .

Valencia is one of the most diverse vegetable and citrus producers in Spain . From orange groves that stretch to the Mediterrannean to artichokes and even dates the region is blessed by sea breezes and plenty of sunshine .

But it ‘s best known product is rice . Almost all Spanish dishes that begin with the word arroz , owe their fame to this region . Thre most famous of these of course is paella .

The word paella , of course , refers to the pan in which the rice was cooked . But to the world outside of Spain , it has come to mean a rice dish with seafood and sometimes chicken.

The varieties of paella in Spain , however are as endless as the local ingredients . I know a woman from Cataluna for whom a typical and favorite paella , of her region , is arroz a la Catalana or rice with rabbit and butifarra . Butifarra is a locally made sausage .

Although the argument rages over which paella is more authentic or ‘real’ , no one disputes the fact that Valencia is the birthplace of the dish . Valencia is where the rice is grown and from where almost all the classic Spanish rice dishes originate .

The traditional Paella a la Valenciana , is made with snails , rabbit , and green string beans or favas ( habas ) .

What follows is a recipe for the recipe we all think of as Paella a la Valenciana .

Paella a la Valenciana - 14 " paella pan

The one we all think of when we hear paella .

The Stock


5 C fish stock
C white wine
1 t saffron


leek.gif (152704 bytes)1 # lobster shelled , cut into pieces . You can leave claws whole for presentation if you like .
20 mussels cleaned
# medium shrimp cleaned
1 # squid cleaned and cut into inch rings
1 # monkfish cut into one inch pieces
C olive oil
3 tomatoes grated , discard skin
12 cloves garlic , 6 minced , 6 finely sliced
2 t paprika
1 T roughly chopped parsley
3 C paella rice
C peas
2 roasted red peppers , peeled , cut into inch strips
1 medium spanish onion medium dice

Preheat the oven to 375 and bring the stock to a simmer . Heat the oil in paella pan and sear the lobster 1 min. season . Remove . Cook monkfish , shrimp , season , 2 minutes and remove . Cook onion , garlic , add paprika , 3 - 4 min. Add tomato and rice stir to coat . Add the fish stock and stir frequently . After 10 min. , add peas , parsley , shrimp , and monkfish . Arrange mussels , lobster claws and roasted peppers . Place in oven 10 min.

Do not overcook the rice . If it is crunchy but close , remove from oven and allow to finish cooking outside . Brush outer garnishes lightly with olive oil if they appear a bit dry . There should be very little liquid left , drain if necessary.