Today I have a fabulous collaborative post all about paella and whether paella can be vegan and found in the home of paella, Valencia in Spain!
Spain is famous for many things, not least being able to boast about a delicious traditional cuisine. One of the dishes that usually sparks the most recognition is paella.
Traditionally a staple dish, created out of necessity with what you had on hand, alongside the essential rice that makes up one of the most important ingredients.
Even though most would argue that there needs to be seafood or sausage in paella, it is possible to find great vegan alternatives as well. We cooked our very own vegan paella at home recently for the first time and it was delicious!
Is vegan paella then considered to be authentic paella?
Well, yes, seeing as the name is not even about the ingredients at all, to some extent – this might seem like a strange comment, but it is actually a piece of information that is quite vital. Paella, although rightfully attributed to the dish, it is actually also a reference to the pan in which you cook the dish.
Translated to English, paella simply means frying pan!
The paella pan should be cooked over open fire to follow tradition literally and the rice in the pan, regardless of the rest of the ingredients should be spread thin.
Seeking out the hidden gems
Where is it then possible to find the best paella in Valencia Spain? Is there even such a thing? Most would argue yes and no. There are several sources that would argue that they indeed make the best paella in Valencia but you can be sure that with each such statement, there is someone providing a counter argument as to the opposite!
In order to figure out where to find the best paella in Valencia you will have to go on a discovery around the city, searching for the hidden gems. You have to know what you are doing though, or in this case ordering, as there are different versions of this much-loved delicacy.
Why finding good vegan paella is easy in Valencia
1. It’s all in the labelling – the first thing that makes vegan versions of paella just as authentic as more traditional alternatives, is the fact that almost any and all rice dishes originating from this part of the country could be considered paella.
2. What about the rice? – in essence, paella should include rice, however since the word paella is also used when referring to several rice dishes it is perhaps not so strange that it could, in some cases not include rice at all. When you see Fideuá on the menu for instance, you will soon learn that this version of paella consists of noodles instead of rice. Although this specific dish usually contains for instance seafood, it is possible to have it vegan as well.
3. Vegan is definitely no longer a novelty – thanks to the fact that more and more people have chosen to commit to a vegan lifestyle, demand has skyrocketed over the past few years and now it is possible to find solid vegan options when it comes to just about anything. This principle definitely applies to paella too and many restaurants are now serving delicious vegan versions of this traditional Spanish dish. It’s easy to replace the traditional meat broth with a vegetable version instead.
4. Is it a soup or is it paella? – speaking of broth, if there is an excess of water added to the dish then it is usually referred to as Caldoso. The dish is cooked in a deeper pan and it can even be more risotto like. Another alternative that can be made vegan is Arroz a Banda which also relies heavily on the broth as a base for capturing deep favourable notes. This way of making paella is really something that plays well into vegan cooking and it has attracted notoriety among foodies.
5. Ample variety of restaurants to choose from – similar to the above comment about catering to demand, most restaurants now offer vegan alternatives on their menu and it is even possible to find 100% plant based restaurants as well, and not just one either, but several. This makes for an interesting landscape when it comes to sampling the local cuisine and why Spain in general is a great holiday destination if you love food.
A difficult job but someone has to do it
Most likely your curiosities about paella have only been somewhat satisfied. Even though sites such as VisitValencia are a great source on all things Valencian, such as where to go for the best shopping experience, there seems to be a never-ending supply of different vegan versions of this magical rice dish
The bottom line is then that you can’t go wrong with whichever you choose as each of the different versions are delicious in their own right. If you have your heart set on finding the best one, you simply might have to try them all, a difficult job but someone has to do it!