Please wait, the site is loading...

Food

Chef Quique Dacosta’s top tips for cooking an authentic paella

by Noemi Martini
Chef Quique Dacosta’s top tips for cooking an authentic paella
Paella at Arros QD

With three Michelin stars, renowned Spanish chef Quique Dacosta knows a thing or two about paella. Here, he shares five tips for perfecting Spain’s national dish

Valencia-born Michelin star chef Quique Dacosta combines traditional and modern cooking methods at his Fitzrovia restaurant, Arros QD. Specialising in paella cooked on both wood-fired and gas stoves in the theatrical open kitchen, Arros QD is the place to eat this quintessential Spanish dish in London.

Paella takes its name from the Spanish word for the large shallow pan that the ingredients are cooked in. Quique is passionate about sharing traditional paella recipes and cooking methods with the rest of the world. ‘I’d rather you cook a paella in a frying pan, than not cook one at all,’ he says.

Originating from the eastern Spanish city of Valencia, variations of paella have been passed down from generation to generation. Although relatively simple, the cooking methods are very specific. Here are Quique's tips for how to cook a delicious and authentic paella at home.

Quique Dacosta. Image: Jose Haro
Quique Dacosta. Image: Jose Haro

1. Fire it up

According to Quique, the key to an authentic paella lies in the heat. Traditionally, paella was cooked outside over fire. This method is still widely used, and at home a barbecue is one of the easiest ways to achieve an authentic environment for cooking paella. ‘The smoke also impacts the flavour,’ Quique says. ‘At Arros QD, different woods are used for different paellas, because each one creates a different flavour.’

 

The trick is to keep the heat evenly distributed under the pan, so that it all heats up at the same time. ‘If you’re cooking on a gas stove, put the paella pan in the middle and turn on all the hobs. That way you’ll have a stable level of fire everywhere,’ he advises.

2. Use local ingredients

The main principle of paella is that it is cooked from local ingredients. The traditional Paella Valenciana includes artichoke, saffron, chicken and rabbit, which are all local to the region. Further inland, snails and duck are also used. The English paellas, which Quique specifically designs for the British audience, contain ingredients such as Cornish Queen scallops or grass-fed tomahawk steak.

Wood-fired stoves at Arros QD
Wood-fired stoves at Arros QD

3. The rice must be right

‘The rice is not considered an ingredient, rather, it is the plate on which the dish is served. The rice is the conductor of the flavour,’ explains Quique. Traditionally, the paella rice must be very dry – the opposite of a risotto – therefore Quique recommends using the short grain Spanish rice bomba (similar to the paella rice you’ll find in British supermarkets) to achieve the best taste and texture.

4. The broth is the main event

Quique advises cooking the broth first, which can be a time-consuming process, taking up to three hours. ‘The stock is the key ingredient, as this is what adds the flavour to the dish,’ explains Quique. ‘The stock needs to be filtered. If it’s not clear, the rice won’t absorb it properly, then you end up with rice which is sticky and a bit too wet.’ You can filter the broth by scooping off the top layer of impurities as the liquid starts to boil.

 

‘In Spain, a lot of people don’t eat the meat in a paella. They focus on the rice because the meat is so overcooked,’ says Quique. The meat or seafood used for the broth should be discarded as it will be overcooked, and the remaining liquid will have most of the flavour. To achieve a lighter paella without any burned fat, add the meat and vegetables you want to eat in the final 20 minutes of cooking.

Paella Valenciana
Paella Valenciana

5. Don’t forget the socarrat

Socarrat is the crispy, caramelised layer of rice at the bottom of the paella. Here’s how Quique ensures a perfect socarrat:

 

‘After cooking the rice, meat and vegetables, add the very hot stock and put the heat on maximum under the paella pan. It should all start boiling. Stir it a bit and then leave it for 10 minutes. Then, lower the heat. Cook it on low for six minutes, and then for the last two minutes turn the heat back up to caramelise the base. This will intensify the flavour of the broth.’

 

Serve and scrape the delicious socarrat with a wooden spoon.

Arros QD

Book a reservation or purchase Arros QD At Home kits at arrosqd.com

Competition

Don`t miss

We value your privacy

We use cookies to help give you the best experience on our site and to allow us and third parties to customise the marketing content you see across websites and social media. For more information see our cookie policy.

Cookie Preference Centre

Learn more about what each cookie category does and choose your settings (toggle right to opt in or left to opt out). Cookie policy


Strictly Necessary

These technologies are needed to enable our websites and apps to run and to keep it secure.

Sainsbury's Magazine

These technologies tell us how customers use our sites and apps and provide information to help us improve the website, apps and your browsing experience.

Cookie name Duration
PHPSESSID Until the browsing session ends
device_view 1 month
recentlyViewedRecipes 1 year
subscription-{popup-version-date}-PopupClosed 12 days

Vimeo

Enables Vimeo videos on the site

Cookie name Duration
_derived_epik 1 year

Constant Commerce

Enables shopping tools for recipe ingredients

Cookie name Duration
cc_a_h 10 years
cc_a_s Until the browsing session ends

DoubleClick

DoubleClick Digital Marketing (DDM) is an integrated ad-technology platform that enables us to more effectively create, manage and grow high-impact digital marketing campaigns.

Cookie name Duration
DSID 10 days
IDE 1 year
RUL 11 months

Performance/Analytics

These technologies tell us how customers use our sites and apps and provide information to help us improve the website, apps and your browsing experience.

Google

Google Analytics tell us how customers use our sites and apps and provide information to help us improve the website, apps and your browsing experience.

Cookie name Duration
__gads 13 months
_ga 28 months
_gat 1 minute
_gid 1 day
1P_JAR 1 month
ANID 10 days
CONSENT 18 years
NID 6 months
__Secure-3PAPISID 2 years
__Secure-3PSID 2 years
__Secure-3PSIDCC 1 year

Marketing/Targeting

These technologies help us decide which products, services and offers may be relevant for you. We use this data to customise the marketing content you see on websites, apps and social media. They also help us understand the performance of our marketing activities. These cookies are set by us or our carefully-selected third parties.

Pinterest

Pinterest conversion tracking gathers conversion insights and builds audiences to target based on actions our visitors have taken on the site.

Cookie name Duration
_pinterest_ct_rt 1 year
_pinterest_ct_ua 1 year
_pin_unauth 1 year

Outbrain

These technologies tell us how customers use our sites and apps and provide information to help us improve the website, apps and your browsing experience.

Cookie name Duration
outbrain_cid_fetch 5 minutes
adrl 5 weeks
apnxs 6 weeks
criteo 2 months
obuid 6 months

Twitter

Twitter conversion tracking enables us to measure our return on ad spend by tracking the actions people take after viewing or engaging with our ads on Twitter.

Cookie name Duration
personalization_id 2 years
muc 2 years
ads_prefs 5 years
auth_token 5 years
dnt 5 years
guest_id 2 years
twid 5 years