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Differences Between Wood-Fired Paella and Gas-Cooked Paella

Spanish paella cooking in open fire chicken paella recipe

Nowadays, you can find plenty of cooking tools and accessories for making paella. Depending on your needs and recipe, you can choose things like the Machika Enameled Paella Pan to make clean up easier. The non-stick surface and authentic Valencian design are great for paella. Our authentic pans are durable, premium quality, and will help you get better paella results compared to something like a cast iron pan.

One type of paella recipe that is well-loved and enjoyable to cook is known as a wood-fired paella, which is usually cooked outdoors. When cooking outdoors, you have to pick your location well. If it is too windy, you may have trouble getting your fire to start, keeping it lit, or ensuring the heat goes into the pan rather than being blown away. Wood fire is a more traditional way of making paella and has become easier than ever. But is there really a difference between wood-fired paellas and gas or electric cooked paella? Well, yes. What will differ the most is the cooking time, flavor, and final results of your dish.

Cooking time: Gas burners are much quicker to start up and do not need any firewood. You can also easily control the heat with a gas burner compared to woof. You must pay attention to wood fire to avoid burning your paella. If you are not used to handling wood fires, this may be a learning experience. It is easier to handle wood fires if you use a paella stand that keeps your pans from sitting directly on the wood.

Flavor: Using certain firewood like orange, olive, almond, oak, etc. will cook your paella better and imbue a certain unique smokey flavor. The flavors from the dish will mix with the flavors of the firewood and make the rice taste much better. There is a clear difference in flavor between something that was cooked over a fire compared to a gas burner. Paella rice is very absorbent, so it takes on a lot of the flavor of the smoke during cooking. To a lesser extent, the chicken and other ingredients will also contain a bit of smokey flavor. If you are cooking over firewood, you will probably not need smoked paprika or additional smokey flavor.

Types of Rice: With paella, there is not a single specific rice that is used for every paella. Paella rice actually covers a number of short grain Spanish rice, with bomba rice being one of the most popular for the dish. However, there are also rice like Sénia or J.Sendra, which are sometimes even sold as bomba rice. If you are unsure which specific rice to choose, just go with whatever is labeled as bomba rice or paella rice. Choosing the right rice is essential to making the dish correctly. Without the right short grain rice, your paella can come out too dry or too moist.

Soccarat: Soccarat is that delicious bottom layer of rice you will get with a good paella. It is often slightly crunchy and contains lots of flavor since much of the juices settle at the bottom of the pan. When it comes to getting a nice soccarat, wood fired paella tend to have an easier time. The higher heat of the wood fire helps create a nicer soccarat, particularly is the flames are reaching all ends of the pan. Some people cook over an open fire solely because it gives a much better soccarat compared to a gas stove.

So, which way of cooking paella recipes do you prefer the most? Are you a traditional wood-fired paella lover or a fan of the convenience of using gas? Let us know in the comments below!

And remember, at Machika, Everyone is Invited. You can purchase authentic Spanish paella pans and more at Machika today!

Machika blog writer Maria Perez, paella, paella pans, paella recipes

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