If you have done any research on Valencia you probably already know something about Valencian gastronomy. It is well known that they cook with a lot of rice and seafood, but we would like to offer you a deeper insight into Valencian cuisine. Below are some of the most common Valencian dishes:
First and foremost, we need to tell you about the famous Valencian Paella. It is a humble dish, born in the Albufera and it has become one of the most representative symbols of the Spanish gastronomy. Its main ingredient is rice, grown in the extensive rice fields surrounding the city. A typical paella should include chicken, rabbit, green beans, “garrofón” (a large white bean), paprika, saffron, chopped tomatoes, olive oil, salt and water. It is best cooked on a firewood (from the local orange trees) over an open stove outside. You can find several varieties such as seafood paella (also very popular), vegetable paella, mixed paella, and more. “Paella” is also the name of the pan with which the dish is cooked!
ARROZ A BANDA
This is a typical dish from the Alicante Province, but it is spread over the whole Mediterranean Spanish coast. It was a very popular dish among fishermen in the old days. Traditionally, two dishes would be obtained from the cooking process. A fish-based broth would be prepared and the rice was cooked in this broth. As a result, you would get 1st a rice dish “apart” of the fish (that’s what “a banda” means) and 2nd a fish stew for a different day. Therefore, in an “A Banda” rice you will find: rice (of course), cuttlefish, prawns, different types of fish, chopped tomatoes, saffron, paprika, olive oil, salt and “alioli” (Valencian for oil and garlic). This last one is optional but very recommendable.
Fideuá is also a traditional fishermen’s dish from the Valencian Community, specifically from Gandia. Its main ingredients are: short skinny noodles, fish (different types), calamari, cuttlefish, lobster, or prawn. It is very similar to “A Banda” rice but with noodles instead. It is mainly seasoned with lemon.
ARROZ AL HORNO
Arroz al Horno (Oven rice) is a dry rice dish, normally cooked in a clay pot in the oven. Its main ingredients are: rice (again!), pork fat and ribs, blood sausages, chorizo (sometimes), chickpeas, potatoes, tomato, garlic, saffron, olive oil and salt. It is very common in Xátiva, but households in the whole Valencian region have it on a regular basis.
Interested in learning how a real Spanish family lives and how they eat? Live with a host family and find out for yourself!