Some say that Valencian rice dishes are like having “the universe on a plate” due to their various flavors and presentations.
This is because rice cultivation has been very important in the Valencian Community, influencing its cuisine, making it one of the stars of some of our most popular dishes. Therefore, it is no coincidence that “Valencian rice” is part of various cuisines, including Argentine, Colombian, Cuban, Uruguayan, and Filipino.
Recipes for “Valencian rice” are replicated worldwide, although with notable differences.
For example, Valencian rice in Bolivia is a popular dish that includes chicken and vegetables, while in Chile it is made with a varied selection of seafood.
In all cases, the rice is left dry and saffron is used to impart its characteristic colour.
However, if you are in Spain, you won’t hear about Valencian rice but about “Valencian paella,” possibly our most international dish, which also allows for many variations.
The “traditional” recipe is made with rice, chicken, rabbit, flat green beans, garrofó (a type of bean), water, olive oil, and saffron, but duck paella is very typical in the Albufera area.
In the region’s inland areas, meatballs or pork ribs are often added, along with vegetables like artichokes, and in the province of Alicante, it is common for the paella to include peppers or ñora (a type of pepper).
Rice Beyond Paella
In addition to paella, if you come to Valencia you can enjoy delicious rice dishes made with meat, fish, or vegetables.
Here are some of them:
Rice with lobster is one of the most popular rice dishes on the Spanish coast. It includes lobster, shrimp, and prawns and is usually served “caldoso” (brothy).
Another of the most well-known fish rice dishes is black rice, which gets its color from cuttlefish or squid ink. It is always served dry (without broth) and requires a good sofrito, a good fish broth, and a selection of shellfish and seafood for its preparation.
Arroz “a banda”
This is very popular throughout the Valencian Community. It is a “sailor’s” dish that used to be made with “morralla”, i.e., fish that were difficult to sell in the markets due to their number of bones or appearance.
The main curiosity of this rice is that it is not one dish, but two: on one hand, the fish broth is served with potatoes, and on the other, the dry rice is served with alioli (garlic mayonnaise).
Rice with Crust (arroz con costra)
This dish is typical of the province of Alicante. It is made with all kinds of meats (primarily rabbit and pork) and is prepared in a clay pot and baked. Just before the rice is fully cooked, the surface is coated with beaten egg. The result is a stew with a golden top layer that gives it a unique flavour.
Oven-Baked Rice (arroz al horno)
This is one of the best examples of sustainable cooking. To prepare it, the leftovers from a stew are used (along with rice, you’ll find chickpeas, blood sausage, or the peculiar meatball, as well as tomatoes and garlic). Normally, it is served in a clay pot. For this reason, in some villages, it is known as “cassola.”
Arroz “del senyoret” (Gentleman’s Rice)
This dry rice dish has the peculiarity that all its ingredients are peeled so that when eating it, we do not have to peel either the fish or the seafood, and we do not have to get our hands dirty. Originally from Alicante, it is known in some restaurants as “blind rice” because it can be eaten with your eyes closed.
Arròs amb fésols i naps
This is typical of the regions of La Safor, La Marina Alta and Baja, La Ribera, or l´Horta. It is usually cooked in large containers and is popular for meals with many diners. Its main ingredients are white beans, turnips, beef, lamb, pork, and rabbit meat.
If you want to try one of these delicious rice dishes, we advise you to come to Valencia and we will recommend you the best places.
You can also learn Spanish in our intensive courses and meet people from all over the world. Contact us.