These renowned rices, beloved by Spanish cooks, cook up plump, soft, and creamy.
Rice has been an important agricultural product in Spain since the Moors arrived from North Africa nearly 1,300 years ago and built the infrastructure necessary to cultivate it. This grain is now part of the fabric of Spanish cuisine—most famously, in its paellas.
The most renowned paella rices come from one of Spain's three regulated denominaciones de origen protegida (DOP): Calasparra, Valencia, and Delta del Ebro. Some of these rices are sold under the name of their DOP (such as arroz de Calasparra), and others are labeled by cultivar—bomba, which is grown in all three regions, is one such rice. In addition to cooking up plump, soft, and creamy, short-grain rices such as bomba and arroz de Calasparra boast several qualities that make them a more desirable choice than long-grain rices in paella. First, these rices’ starch structure allows them to absorb more of the rich flavors of the stock and aromatics of a paella without turning to mush and to endure the roughhousing of boiling without breaking. Paella rice also has a high degree of pearling, meaning it has concentrated starch at its center that gives the rice a bright-white color and extra creaminess when cooked.
When purchasing bomba rice or arroz de Calasparra for recipes, including our Cauliflower and Bean Paella, look for DOP on the label for the highest quality.