Hailing from Valencia (Spain), paella has become a quintessential Spanish dish known worldwide. Unfortunately though, this fame has also bastardised the original recipe and made it so unrecognizable that most Valencians call these dishes arroz con cosas (Rice with things).
I’ll delve into this controversy further when I finally post my own Valencian Paella recipe but for the meantime, I’ll just stick to the cleaning and maintenance of the pan it is cooked in.
The only paella pan that I ever use to make paella is the traditional one made of carbon steel (paella de acero pulido) and this is the one the post is about. While the more modern paella pans (enamelled steel, stainless steel or non-stick) are easier to clean and maintain they lack the main feature of its traditional counterpart i.e. to create the socarrat (the “burnt” layer at the bottom which most Valencians fight over). A paella without socarrat is sacrilegious!
Follow all these steps if you haven’t used your paella pan in a long time and it has become unrecognizable:
1 Fill paella pan with vinegar (any type will do) and leave it overnight to work its magic.
2 Use a kitchen scouring pad to clean the surface and empty the vinegar. At this point you should notice that most of the rust and grime has disappeared.
3 Using a dash of soap, clean the surface with a scouring pad and rinse with clean water until clean.
4 Thoroughly dry using a kitchen paper towel.
5 Add a drizzle of olive oil to the clean pan and work into the surface using a kitchen paper towel. Make sure to not leave any excess oil in the pan but it does need to be greasy.
6 Hang or store wherever you like.
How to clean a paella pan after each use:
Soak the paella pan with soapy water for around 30 minutes and then follow steps 3 – 6
How to prepare a newly purchased paella pan:
Check instructions that come with the paella pan; some require you to burn off the manufacturers protective layer. If not, all you need to do is follow steps 3 – 6.
Note: The exterior of the paella pan will blacken. This is normal and does not need to be thoroughly cleaned, treated with vinegar or polished with oil.