Latin ingredient of the week: Valencia rice (RECIPE)

Rice hasn't been having a good week, after poisonous arsenic was found to be in rice from Texas and the Gulf Coast states. However, there's one kind of rice that definitely isn't affected: Valencia rice from Spain!

Valencia is a very special kind of rice because it is grown in Spain and, unlike the typical long-grain rice used in many Latin dishes, it's actually short-grain and typically used to make paella. It's also different from other short-grain rice varieties because it has an ability to absorb moisture without breaking down which, again, is perfect for the paella Valenciana recipe below! This rice is definitely a special one and it makes an even more special traditional dish.


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Paella Valenciana (recipe courtesy of

6 cups very strong chicken broth (bouillon)
1/2 tsp saffron
1/4 tsp smoked Spanish paprika (Pimentón de la Vera)
1 small onion, peeled
2 small chickens, about 2-1/2 lbs each
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 lb of cooking chorizo, in 1/4 inch slices
1/4 lb piece jamón serrano ham, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
4 scallions, chopped
4 tbsp chopped garlic
2 roasted piquillo peppers
1 lb small or medium shrimp, shelled
2 (Optional) Live lobsters, boiled, split and divided into tail sections and claws (discard or keep the head and small claws); or
4 (Optional) Lobster tails, split lengthwise;
8 (Optional) King crab claws; or
8 jumbo shrimp, in their shells, preferably heads on
3 cups short grain Spanish rice (such as Bomba, a Valencia variety)
5 tbsp chopped parsley
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 lb fresh or frozen peas
18 clams and/or mussels, scrubbed
Lemon wedges for garnish
Parsley for garnish

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1. Heat the broth with the saffron, pimentón and the whole onion. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Remove the onion and measure the broth -- you need exactly 5-1/2 cups.

2. Cut the chickens into small serving pieces -- the whole breast in 4 parts, each thigh into 2 parts, the bony tip of the leg chopped off, the wing tip discarded, and the rest of the wing separated into 2 parts. Dry the pieces well and sprinkle with salt.

3. In a metal Paella pan, with about a 15 inch base, heat the oil. Add the chicken pieces and fry over high heat until golden. Remove to a warm platter. Add the chorizo, and jamón to the pan and stir fry about 10 minutes. Add the chopped onion, scallions, garlic, and pimentos and saute until the onion is wilted. Add the shrimp and the lobster and saute about 3 minutes more, or until the shrimp and lobster barely turn pink (the lobster will cook more in the oven.) Remove the shrimp and lobster to the platter with the chicken. Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat it well with the oil. Sprinkle in the 5 tablespoons of chopped parsley and the crumbled bay leaves. (You can make in advance up to this point.)

4. Stir in the chicken broth, boiling hot, the wine, rice, and peas. Salt to taste. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, over medium high heat about 10 minutes. Bury the shrimp and the chicken in the rice. Add the clams and the mussels, pushing them into the rice, with the edge that will open facing up. Decorate the paella with the lobster pieces, then bake at 325 F, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

5. Remove from the oven and let sit on top of the stove, lightly covered with foil, for about 10 minutes. To serve, decorate with lemon wedges and chopped parsley.

Note: Lobster can be a little expensive, so replace it with a comparable amount of shrimp if you wish!

Images via Charles Haynes/flickr, Pablo Monteagudo/flickr

Topics: spanish food  spanish dishes  recipes  latin ingredient of the week