For those who are bored with all the typical rice dishes, the Spanish dish called paella can offer something new and delicious!
This mouth-watering dish prepared from rice varieties like bomba, risotto or sushi provides you layers of flavors in one go. They usually also include vegetables and seafood for adding more nutrients.
Although paella is generally prepared with a pan specifically made for it, you can also cook it with several easily available cookware. Let’s see which paella pan substitute becomes the ideal choice for you.
What Is A Paella Pan?
Paella pans are different from other pans because they are designed with slightly sloping sides to ensure even cooking for the rice.
Along with a shallow depth, the wide and round pans are specifically used to prepare dishes like paella which require multiple layers and tons of ingredients.
Typically, they are made of carbon steel so that it heats up quickly and doesn’t retain too much heat. This ensures the uniform heat distribution of your paella.
No Paella Pan? Here Is Substitutes For Paella Pan
Solution 1: Skillet
The closest thing to a paella pan can be the good old skillet. To make a delicious paella, it should be at least 13 inches in diameter and shallow. When it comes to materials, heavier options like aluminum or stainless steel would be preferred.
If you have two skillets, you can make an even better paella by dividing the ingredients between them. This should result in even cooking and thus make the dish even more delectable.
Remember to avoid non-stick panda or cast iron skillets since they can make the paellas bland or retain too much heat respectively.
Solution 2: Wok
Woks are larger and deeper than standard frying pans which already gives them a higher edge when it comes to paella pan replacements. Originating in the Chinese Han dynasty, these round-bottomed and high-walled pans can deliver paellas quickly with their large surface.
You can cook the ingredients like seafood, chicken and sausage first, and set them aside utilizing the slopped lips of your wok. After separating them, you can cook vegetables in the same wok and add rice in the last stage to complete the mouth-watering dish.
Solution 3: Dutch Ovens
The Dutch oven is a heavy-duty pot with a tight-fitting lid whose wide and fairly shallow surface can help in preparing paella. However, it might be a struggle to achieve socarrat or the caramelized crust of rice with this cookware. If you do it right though, you can get a great layer of toasted rice with its heavy bottom.
Make sure that you are not mistaking cast-iron Cocottes with round Dutch ovens since the former may not deliver a crispy bottom for your paella. Another common mistake is to stir the mixture while cooking. Avoid doing so to get that delicious bottom crust.
Solution 4: Frying Pan
A frying pan measuring 10 inches in diameter or larger can be good for preparing paella. While cooking the dish, a possible challenge with these pans can be overcrowding it with all the ingredients and layers. So a deeper surface can help with your desired crispy texture.
Using this kind of pan, you can prepare paellas based on vegetables and seafood. It is one of the most easily accessible paella pan substitutes because frying pans are staple cookware at any home.
Solution 5: Shallow Sauté Pan
If you are going to use a shallow sauté pan for making paella, make sure that its capacity is large - four-quart or higher. In terms of depth, it should be around three inches deep to cook some good paella. If it comes with helper handles, your job will get even easier.
Remember to not cover it while cooking, rather put on the lid after taking the dish out from the oven to keep it warm.
Solution 6: Hotel Pan
Hotel pan is a great substitute for paella pan, especially if you have to cook a large amount of the dish. Remember to choose a flat bottom pan instead of a round one.
You will need to cook the rice, the vegetables and other ingredients one by one for this substitute. After preparing them separately, just toss them together in the end.
Solution 7: Rice Cooker and Shallow Pan
If none of the options described above are available, you can use a combination of a wide shallow pan and a rice cooker to prepare the paella. For this solution, you will need to prepare the rice with your rice cooker and sauté the other ingredients in the pan.
After that, place the rice and the vegetables in a bowl in layers. Let it sit there for a few minutes and then add the seafood, as well as a little bit of water.
Recipe: How To Make Paella Without A Paella Pan?
Sauté The Vegetables
Cook the onions in olive oil with bell pepper and garlic until its slices have become translucent. After sautéing it, add bay leaf, chopped tomato, salt, pepper and saffron to the dish. Then gently stir it for about five minutes.
Add Other Ingredients Except Seafood
Now add white wine to the concoction and cook it for ten more minutes. Then put in chopped parsley and stir for just a minute. After that, pour in the broth around the dish slowly and give the pan a little shake so that it can reach all parts of the rice evenly.
Put The Lid Away
When the dish starts to boil, lower the heat and gently shake the pan once or twice while it cooks. Put away the lid and let the paella cook for around eighteen minutes.
Place your preferred seafood on top. Keep cooking for about five minutes without stirring and see if the rice on top is getting soft enough for serving. If it is not getting softer, you can add a quarter cup of water or broth to the dish.
Cover And Rest
Remove pan from the heat and cover it with either tinfoil or a lid. Let it rest for ten minutes and then serve fresh with parsley or lemon slices.
Tips To Make Perfect Paella At Home
Source Of Heat
As the source of heat for making your perfect paella at home, use a gas burner or a large hotplate so that the dish is cooked evenly. Such heat sources are important while cooking large dishes like paella since other alternative ways may not cook each layer properly.
Don’t Stir Too Much
Even though large gravy dishes like this are often prepared with a lot of stirring, the paella should not be stirred too much. Especially after the stock has been added to it and the light-golden crust of socarrat has started to form in the base, you should not stir the dish again.
Rotate The Pan
If you are using a paella pan alternative where one side is cooking more than the other, just rotate it to make the heat reach all sides. This especially applies to cooking on electric cooktops or small burners. If the heat source is too small, you can use two units to prepare the paella.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does A Paella Pan Need To Be Seasoned?
Answer: Yes, a paella pan needs to be seasoned before being used. Regardless of its material, the pan’s inner surface should be lightly coated with olive oil after thoroughly washing it with hot soapy water and then drying it with a paper towel. However, remember that too much oil can ruin the seasoning. Just use as much as necessary.
Is Paella Supposed To Be Wet Or Dry?
Answer: Even though the dish is made with several watery ingredients, your resulting paella should be dry. The liquid present in it while cooking should be completely absorbed just before your rice gets done. If you don’t ensure the timing, it could end up being too mushy or undercooked.
How Big Should Your Paella Pan Substitute Be?
Answer: Ideally, your paella pan substitute should be between 14 and 16 inches because this allows for all the ingredients to settle down nicely. Besides, it can cook enough amount for a large group of people. It should be at least 10 inches to prepare paella for two people.
Do You Need To Wash Paella Rice?
Answer: The traditional recipes for Spanish rice dishes like paella does not include a step like washing the rice. This is preferred because the natural outer coating of starch in these rice helps them to produce the delicious crispy layer at the bottom. Just boil the rice at a high temperature for about 20 minutes to cook it properly.
Any of the options discussed here can be the ideal paella pan substitute for you. After you have your hands on the available pan, get ready to enjoy spoonful of the delicious paella layers.
Although not all the replacement pans will be able to deliver a crispy bottom layer, some options like frying pans do allow creating the mouth-watering socarrat. Try to use high-quality ingredients like saffron and extra virgin olive oil to make the dish even more delectable.