We were fortunate to follow Chef Cassalett of Malagón here in Charleston, SC into the kitchen for a behind the scenes look at how he makes his paella. Growing up around paella, Chef Cassalett continues to be inspired by the way this meal brings people together and encourages creativity in cooking. Talking with Chef Cassalett, we were able to collect a few key tips for when you’re ready to cook paella.
Three Tips for Perfect Paella
1. Don't stress, enjoy your time cooking this meal
Paella is intended for sharing with loved ones and friends, usually over beer or a bottle of wine. Enjoy this time and don’t overthink the process.
2. Listen to your rice
Chef Cassalett and his team at Malagón have perfected the method for achieving socarrat, or the crispy bottom layer of paella rice, and it starts by listening for a true sizzle once the rice has simmered for a bit. You can then use a metal utensil to tap different spots while listening for a deep and dense sound coming from the pan.
3. Utilize seasonal ingredients
The flavors of your paella will soar when you prioritize foods that are available and local to you. Chef Cassalett likes to be surprised with his vegetable delivery before deciding what his paella of the week recipe will be at Malagón. This not only keeps things interesting, but insures you are getting the best flavors using simple, whole ingredients while helping your local farmers and purveyors.