HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Making Paella- don't have the proper rice- so long grain or short grain?

I'm wanting to try my hand at paella again but I don't have the proper rice and don't have access to a store that carries it. So would you go with a long grain or a short grain rice?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Use short grain rice for paella. Always short grain. If you can't find Bomba use Aborio, etc. I was just reading an article that examines what the proper/authentic ingredients and procedure are to making great paella. My paella is sadly lacking so I'm going to study this...


    1 Reply
    1. re: Gio

      Unless you speak Spanish on the west side of the Atlantic, then use your favorite long grain. :) For one reason or other, Hispanics in the Americas prefer a long grain, even when they make their version of paella.

      Yes, in Spain they prefer a short-medium grain rice, though the main concern is that it absorbs the flavors well. Italian risotto rice (e.g. Arborio) works ok, since paella isn't stirred to release the starches.


    2. I've used arborio in the past and as Gio said it works very well. Are you making a traditional or seafood Paella?

      1. I always seem to have that dilemma, so I just use Arborio rice for my Paella. Comes out wonderful.

        1. I used Basmati....the paella comes out loose not gooey risotto like. Not sure but I've read it shouldn't be risotto like but I've seen some where it is.

          Make it the way you like it is my opinion. Loose like biryani with basmati or saucey creamy with risotto. You choose.

          2 Replies
          1. re: LUV_TO_EAT

            Like others here, I've used risotto rices like arborio or carnaroli, which I understand are similar to Spanish paella rices. But because paella is not cooked the way risotto is - no constant stirring - paella made with risotto rice does not have the texture of a creamy risotto. It's the stirring, as I understand it, that releases the starches and gives risotto its charcteristic texture. The paella I made with risotto rice didn't have a risotto texture, but it was certainly different than pilafs, etc. made with basmati.

            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

              I'm making traditional with chicken (not rabbit as truly traditional) and some seafood.
              I don't want it creamy like risotto but I don't want it dry like long grain. Too me Basmati is the wrong flavor, I love Basmati but can't imagine that flavor with Paella, maybe I'm wrong.

              Goi, I will take a look at the article you posted. Thanks!

          2. I think I've posted this link before - it's one of most detailed sites describing different types of rice


            1. http://www.csl.cornell.edu/~martinez/...
              Japanese type Kohoku pearl rice rice is suggested by this Valencian. I've tried it out for myself and it works beautifully.

              My own preference is for the Balilla X Solana rice from the Calasparra region in Murcia Spain and this is a bit firmer than the non Bomba Valencian rice varieties. One of the benefits is that the firmness allows you a bit more lee way when cooking so that you don't pass the ideal cooking time and come up with rice that is too mushy (pasado). The Kohoku rice is easy to cook with also.

              2 Replies
              1. re: MoGa

                Do you use the same water ratio of Japanese type rice as for Spanish?

                Something that bugs me about the various rice recommendations is that, supposedly, the great advantage of Spanish paella rices is that they absorb a lot of broth, and hence flavor. But directions for Japanese style rice, including Calrose, are for a lower than 2:1 ratio. 2:1 seems to be standard ratio for long grain. I have reconciled the more v. less water claims.

                However it is important to remember than paella cooking is done in an open pan with lots of evaporation. One book calls for 10 minutes of high heat (after adding rice), 8 of low. Contrast that with typical long grain cooking - 20 minutes of low, covered, after the liquid comes to a boil. Then there's the water that may be retained if the rice is rinsed (Asian style).

                1. re: paulj

                  When making Japanese rice for Japanese dishes I always use a closed cooking implement, usually a rice cooker. When cooking Japanese (or Spanish rice) using the rice cooker my ration is usually 1 of rice and 1.25 of water.

                  I honestly don't find a huge difference between either when making in a frying pan or paella pan but each variety still has it's own characteristics. So, last week in Spain the first rice dish I made was too wet as I hadn't been able to get the Balilla X Solana I've now grown used to and tried it with the standard "La Fallera" rice. I should have used a 2:1 ratio but added more (probably 2.5:1).
                  When trying a rice for the first time I'd recommend going for as low a ratio as you feel is right for the rice and having some hot stock reserved so that you can top it up as necessary. It's not the ideal way to make paella but it will get you out of trouble whilst you're refining your technique.
                  The link above has reliable instructions for use with the Kohoku brand. I'm afraid it was too long ago that I made an Arroz dish with this brand of rice to be able to give reliable guidance. I'm likely to have used something like 2.15:1 or 2.5:1. Bomba rice has a higher ratio still and is one of the reasons I don't tend to use it -it's very thirsty and you need a lot of top quality stock to feed it. One of the reasons for its popularity I suspect is that if you can get enough stock it is hard to 'ruin' but the Calasparra rice suits my cooking style perfectly.

                  As an aside, I was coking with an older Murcian lady recently and she prefers the Valencian rice varieties to the Calasparra grown rice I prefer. The reason was because she likes the softer texture of the Valencian kinds over the slightly more 'toothsome' quality I value in the Balilla X Solana variety. YMMV

              2. The "real thing" is made with a short grain Spanish rice called Bomba. Not easy to find and Very Expensive. I use Japanese Sushi rice - same shape same results to me.

                2 Replies
                1. re: memphisman

                  Not just bomba rice is used - it's rather more expensive than the other kinds available. I'd say more people make the "real thing" with the Senia or Bahía varieties than with bomba rice.
                  I'd say these were even preferred by those who make paella by adding water rather than a ready made stock to the ingredients.

                  Here's a description of why bomba rice has become so popular:
                  "El arroz “bomba” es, según Santos Ruiz, un “seguro de vida” para las generaciones jóvenes: es más fácil de cocinar, no hay que estar tan atentos al punto, sale bien siempre. Pero los que, como Santos, adoran la paella al estilo de siempre, la prefieren hecha con arroz “senia” o “bahía”, pese a los riesgos de pasarse de cocción. La paella “de las madres”, vamos. "

                  According to Santos Ruiz, bomba rice has become one of life's 'guarantees' for the younger generations. It's easier to cook with, they don't have to concentrate so much on rice reaching it's perfect cooking point, it always comes out right. But for those who, like Santos, adore the old fashioned rice, they prefer paella made with senia or bahía rice despite the additional risks of overcooking the dish. It's a "mother's paella" let's say.

                  1. re: MoGa

                    Koehler in 'La Paella' describes Bomba as the most exported of the Valencian rices, and 'less likely than a medium-grain rice to "open" and therefore lose its consistency or flavor when overcooked'. For that reason it is recommend for novices! Essentially the same sentiment.