Risotto and paella
Paella and risotto are two characteristic dishes of two wonderful national cuisines: Spanish and Italian. True, this does not stop many tourists from confusing them, because both dishes are prepared on the basis of rice. And someone even believes that they are only European varieties of pilaf. So let’s see how the risotto differs from paella and what is the difference between them.
Paella – Spanish, Risotto – Italian
The history of the main national Spanish dish dates back hundreds of years. It is believed that the “prototype” of modern paella was first prepared in the 15th century, although many of its recipes are found in cookbooks from the 13th century. And historians are not tired of claiming that a similar food was invented much earlier by the servants of the Moorish kings and was prepared from the remnants of food from the table.
A similar story happened with risotto. In its origin, you can also find Arab roots, because in Italy itself rice began to be cultivated only in the 14th century, and it was imported from the East. But already in the famous cookbook of the Italian chef Bartolomeo Scappi, published in 1570, about a thousand variations of the preparation of risotto are mentioned.
The key difference is rice
There are many nuances and secrets of ideal risotto and paella, but what is the fundamental difference between them is the preparation of rice. For an Italian dish, it is fried, poured with hot broth and stewed until the liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly and avoiding the burning of cereals.
Ready risotto has a pleasant creamy consistency. This cannot be achieved if you do not use rice of special “starchy” varieties: carnaroli, arborio or vialone nano. There is also a difference in the ingredients – this is butter, onions, white wine and broth (traditionally – beef or vegetable).
Unlike risotto, the paella should be crumbly. Accordingly, rice will be different. Most often, varieties of bomb or Kalasparra are taken for cooking. Another difference is the selection of products. No national Spanish recipe can do without saffron – it is this spice that gives paella a unique golden color and indescribable aroma. Other important ingredients are olive oil, onions, garlic, broth or water.
The largest risotto in the world was made in Sydney in 2004 to draw attention to the problem of hunger. A meal weighing 7.5 tons was divided between passers-by in return for donations, and the money collected was donated to charity.
A serious difference applies to the culinary action itself. In Spain, paella is traditionally cooked over an open fire and used for this special wide and flat pan.
All components are stacked in strict sequence: the prepared base (meat, seafood, etc.) is covered with fried rice, poured with broth and stewed until the liquid boils. After this, the contents can no longer be mixed. As a result, crispy, caramelized rice crust forms on the “bottom” of the classic paella – the Spaniards adore it and consider it a delicacy. And this is another important difference between the dishes.
Risotto with scallops
Both risotto and paella are cooked with meat, fish, mushrooms, vegetables. The classic Spanish recipe uses seafood: shrimp, mussels, squid, scallops. And in the preparation of national Italian dishes, the most common and at the same time the easiest option is risotto with grated parmesan.
Paella also occupies an honorable place in the Guinness Book of Records. In 1992, a dish with a diameter of 20 meters was prepared in Valencia – it remains the absolute record holder to this day. The total weight of the products used: olive oil, vegetables, rice, snails, chicken, rabbit, duck and seasoning – amounted to 30 thousand tons.
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Paella and risotto eat differently
Not only recipes for the preparation of two famous culinary masterpieces differ, but also their presentation. So, paella is traditionally served in the same pan that was cooked, and wooden spoons are offered to it. The Spaniards conservatively believe that metal appliances can ruin the taste of food – although perhaps this is nothing more than a little trick for tourists.
Depending on the “filling” (meat, seafood or something else), red or white wines are chosen for paella. However, there is a clear rule: no sangria! And they don’t order paella for dinner – it’s a daily meal.
There is also a difference in how paella is eaten. If it contains unrefined seafood, then they are pushed to the edge of the dishes and eat at the very end, peeling by hand.
Unlike paella, such categorical requirements are not presented to risotto. It is served hot as a first course and usually on warmed plates. They eat risotto with any appliances, moving from the edge of the plate to its middle, as the food cools for a long time.