Rice is one of the basic ingredients in many Spanish dishes, from the most sophisticated Valencian paellas to the plain, easy Cuban Rice – white rice with tomato sauce and fried eggs, that is one students favourite. But Spanish rice is a bit different from other rice, and if you don´t cook it in the proper way, you will find yourself with an unpleasant sticky paste. The good news is that learning to cook Spanish rice is very easy, and the results quite impressive. Follow these tips – that, by the way, don´t include how to cook paella rice, and you will have a stunning dinner in no time.

The foundations.

When it comes to rice in Spanish cuisine, there are three basic cooking styles: dry (seco), creamy (meloso) and soupy (caldoso). For the three of them, you can use the same base, for example, a seafood and chorizo sauté (sofrito). One tip: be careful if you have a Spanish guest. Many Spaniards will feel insulted if you add chorizo to a seafood rice! Don´t ask me why, it is something that I can´t really understand, as long as many traditional recipes mix those ingredients.

So, let´s take this sofrito as an example:

2-3 saffron strands

2 medium-size cuttlefish, diced

6 diced artichoke hearts (cooked or barbecued)

3 ñoras

3-4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Put the olive oil in a deep pan and add the saffron. As soon as you can feel the saffron aroma add the cuttlefish and let it slow cook. Add the diced artichoke hearts and the ñoras meat (introduce the ñora peppers in hot water for 15 minutes, discard the seeds, stalks and dry skin removing the meat with a spoon or knife), add the cuttlefish juice and stir-fry until cooked.

Soupy rice

320g redondo rice

1L hot fish stock

1L hot meat Stock

Mix your meat and fish stock in a cooking pan and warm it up. Add the rice and the sofrito. Cook it medium fire for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Ove baked dry rice

3-4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

320g redondo rice

1/2L hot fish stock

1/2l hot meat Stock

Preheat the oven.

Find a 30-34cm flat pan (a paella-style pan is the best option, as it helps the water evaporation). Put the olive oil, the rice, your sofrito and add the hot stock. Cook it high fire for 4-5 minutes. Finish the cooking introducing the pan in the preheated oven 200º for 18 minutes. If you want a crusty, toasted layer on the rice, place the pan on the fire again until you hear that the toast layer is forming at the bottom.

If your rice is not fully cooked, don´t add more stock and start cooking again! It will wash away the flavour of your dish. The best thing to do is cover the rice and let it rest until all the stock is gone and it is fully cooked.

Creamy rice (risotto-style)

6-8 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

320g redondo rice

1/2L hot fish stock

1/2l hot meat Stock

On a deep pan, place the 3-4 tablespoons olive oil, the rice and the sofrito, add only half of the stock and stir until the rice is cooked, adding more stock as needed on the same way as when cooking risotto. Once the stock is consumed and the rice is firm but it does not break, switch off the fire, add the rest of the olive oil, and stir until the olive oil is fully incorporated to the mix.

You can try those three styles with any other combination of sofrito and stock. Just pay attention to the rice and stock proportions, as they are the key to get the right texture without overcooking the rice.

The final tip

If you don´t feel very confident about your cooking abilities but you still want to cook a Spanish rice dish, there is one single trick that will guarantee that you don´t spoil your work with an overcooked, sticky rice. Simply swap your rice with vaporized rice and you will never fail. The cost of using vaporized rice is that it loses a bit of taste, but some people definitely prefer it to ordinary rice. You will also need to correct the stock/rice proportions, and it takes a bit longer to cook.

This recipe and techniques were first shown by El Comidista.

Pablo Vergara Pérez

Pablo Vergara Pérez

Pablo is one of the founders of Las Delicias. He is the manager, the bookkeeper, the web designer, the cleaner, the marketer, the new products researcher, the sales assistant… What he loves the most of his job is that he actually needs to taste hundreds of products in order to find the most delicious ones.

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