A paella pan (“paellera” in Spanish) is a very broad, round, shallow frying pan used to cook paella in.
Paella pan design
Many paella pans have a slightly convex bottom, though you can get flat-bottomed ones which are better for smooth-top stoves.
The pans have short looped handles. Smaller pans have one on each side. Extremely large paella pans may have four or eight handles, so that other people can help carry it when it is filled.
Paella pans don’t have lids. Martha Stewart says, “Paella pans don’t come with lids, and for good reason: The liquid needs to be allowed to evaporate while the paella is cooking so you end up with tender-but-not-soggy rice with a good socarrat [Ed: bottom crust].” Anderson, Jennifer. What Is a Paella Pan? (And Do I Really Need One?). Marthastewart.com. 29 March 2019. Accessed August 2020 at https://www.marthastewart.com/1538063/paella-pan-guide
Paella pan materials
The pans can be made of stainless steel, copper, carbon steel, or enamelled carbon steel. The carbon steal pans are the most common in Spain. To season brand new carbon steel ones, boil water with a small amount of vinegar in the pan. Then dry thoroughly, and rub the inside surface with olive oil.
The metal they are made of is thin: this allows the pans to respond quickly to changes in heat.
” The pan is shallow, wide and round with slightly sloping sides. This shape ensures that the rice cooks evenly in one layer… Paella experts like the thin carbon steel pans that heat fast and don’t retain too much heat.” Wolf, Bonny. Paella Perfect. National Public Radio. 17 August 2005. Accessed August 2020 at https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4786547
Paella pan sizes
When buying a paella pan, bear in mind where exactly you pan to be using it.
The size of a paella pan is measured across the top, excluding the handles (bear this in mind particularly if you are thinking of using it in the oven.)
|Metric (cm)||Imperial (inches)||Servings (people)|
|26||10||1 – 2|
|32||13||2 – 3|
|34||13.5||2 – 3|
|36||14||2 – 4|
|38||15||3 – 5|
|40||16||4 – 6|
|43||17||5 – 7|
|46||18||6 – 8|
|50||20||7 – 10|
|55||22||9 – 12|
|60||24||10 – 16|
|65||26||12 – 20|
|70||28||15 – 35|
|80||31||20 – 40|
|90||35||40 – 70|
|100||40||70 – 100|
|115||45||100 – 140|
|130||52||150 – 200|
Extremely large paella pans pretty much require the purchase of a paella burner and tripod to use them on (unless you have a wide outdoor grate under which you can operate a wood fire.) The burners and stands come in different sizes to accommodate different-sized paella pans.
Paella pan substitutes
Use the largest frying pan that you have and if that is still not big enough, use the two largest frying pans you have. You need to cook paella in a shallow layer: “The most important tip to keep in mind is that your layer of rice should be no more than two inches [5 cm] deep.” Anderson, Jennifer. What Is a Paella Pan? (And Do I Really Need One?). Marthastewart.com. 29 March 2019. Accessed August 2020 at https://www.marthastewart.com/1538063/paella-pan-guide
They need to be stainless-steel or aluminum. Non-stick pans will prevent the development of the desirable caramelized bottom crust of rice (the “socarrat”) that develops at the bottom of a paella dish.
“A 13-inch [33 cm] or larger stainless-steel or aluminum skillet will work; otherwise, use two medium skillets (which is a little trickier logistically), dividing the ingredients between them. Avoid cast-iron skillets (they retain too much heat) and nonstick pans (they produce bland paellas).” Jorge, Noberto. Paella: Rice at its best. Fine Cooking Magazine. Issue 33. July 1999.
Some food writers insist there is no substitute for a paella pan when making paella:
“The pan… is important. It absolutely must be a paella pan, or it’s not paella. The whole idea is it needs as much surface heat on the bottom as possible so it cooks properly.” Brenner, Leslie. Mastering Paella. Los Angeles Times. 16 January 2008. Accessed August 2020 at https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2008-01-16-0801140219-story.html
They point out that paella pans don’t cost a lot of money. Cost, however, doesn’t address the issue that these are big pans that take up a lot of storage space, which can be wasteful if it’s not a piece of cookware you use frequently.
|↑1||Anderson, Jennifer. What Is a Paella Pan? (And Do I Really Need One?). Marthastewart.com. 29 March 2019. Accessed August 2020 at https://www.marthastewart.com/1538063/paella-pan-guide|
|↑2||Wolf, Bonny. Paella Perfect. National Public Radio. 17 August 2005. Accessed August 2020 at https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4786547|
|↑3||Anderson, Jennifer. What Is a Paella Pan? (And Do I Really Need One?). Marthastewart.com. 29 March 2019. Accessed August 2020 at https://www.marthastewart.com/1538063/paella-pan-guide|
|↑4||Jorge, Noberto. Paella: Rice at its best. Fine Cooking Magazine. Issue 33. July 1999.|
|↑5||Brenner, Leslie. Mastering Paella. Los Angeles Times. 16 January 2008. Accessed August 2020 at https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2008-01-16-0801140219-story.html|