There are as many versions of a paella as there are chefs and families living alongside the Mediterranean coast of Spain. However, the one thing there seems to be little discussion about is that in order to achieve a great paella rice, the better the stock, the greater the dish.
Together with the actual cooking of the rice, making the best possible stock is the single most important step when making any paella recipe; whether this is seafood paella, ‘arroz negro’ (black paella), ‘fideuà’ or ‘arroz a banda’.
The reason is that all the paellas are made with short-grain rice varieties, such as the bomba or the japonica. The great thing about these varieties is that they’re able to absorb plenty of the cooking liquid without overcooking. And of course, that means they’re able to absorb the flavour from that liquid too. That’s why making an effort to prepare a good fish stock is so important when cooking a paella. Because when you eat the rice, most of its flavour will be coming from the fish stock.
There are a million different ways to prepare a good ‘fumet’ (fish stock). However they all share the same principles and at the end, it all comes to your personal preference of how you like your paella rice. This one here is my own recipe. I like my rice to have bold and intense flavours. I love it when you bite the rice and you taste a bit of the sea in your mouth.
And yes, this recipe takes a little bit longer and some few more ingredients to prepare than a standard fish stock. But go through the effort once and I can promise that you won’t look back ever again.