Which Paella Pan to Choose?
Fancy breaking into the world of paella but not sure what pan you need?
Fancy breaking into the world of paella but not sure what pan you need? This guide will give you the lowdown on paella pans, from polished steel to non-stick and flat-bottomed. So, whether it be for a dinner party at home or an event catering for hundreds of people - grab your paella pan from The Tapas Lunch Company and you'll be making perfect Spanish paella in no time at all. Also be sure to check out our separate guides to paella accessories and ingredients. A good paella pan is your starting point and a must for making a larger paella. There are a handful of respected, good quality brands (E.g., El Cid, Garcima) making traditional paella pans in Spain today, most in the Valencia region where paella originated. Opting for a good quality brand means you'll get a better pan: a thicker gauge of steel for a longer lasting product that heats more uniformly, and a better quality coating (enamel, non-stick etc.) that should be more even and last longer. Don't be fooled though - apart from the really specialist non-stick, stainless steel and flat-bottomed pans, basic smaller paella pans need not cost the earth. In terms of size, our recommendations based on the number of portions you need to prepare are as follows: 2-3 Portions: 26 cm 3-4 Portions: 30 cm 4-5 Portions: 34 cm 5-6 Portions: 38 cm
For event catering, we recommend running a number of 50cm pans simultaneously, depending on the varieties of paella you intend to offer. When it comes to type of paella pan, there are many materials and qualities to choose from depending on your needs. Read on for more details...
Polished Steel Paella Pans
This is the typical image of a paella pan that most people have. Made from a sheet of polished (not stainless) steel and typically with two red handles - this is the iconic, traditional pan and represents great value for money. Often preferred by chefs, this pan offers little 'burn' protection and no 'non-stick' capabilities, which means you can cook up a good crust (or socarrat) to add some crunch to the paella. Be careful though, as it's easy to burn excessively with these pans and the lack of coating means a lot of scraping and generally a shorter lifespan as they are prone to rust unless treated very carefully and oiled after use. Verdict: an inexpensive entry to paella making and can produce great results in the right hands. Lack of coating means more scraping, harder to care for and ultimately a won't last as long. Best used on gas hobs.
Enamelled Steel Paella Pans
Also a popular option in Spain and our best-selling pan in the UK. The basic steel pan is coated in hard wearing black enamel. The coating offers a layer of protection and basic non-stick capabilities, meaning you won't have to do quite as much scraping as with a basic pan and the product cleans up nicely after use without too much effort. Won't have to be oiled to maintain optimum condition and shouldn't rust if the coating is undamaged - beware though as the coating is prone to chipping if the pan is bashed about. Best used on gas hobs. Verdict: a good, all-purpose pan which is easy to use and maintain and can last a long time. A good option for large, catering-size paella pans and for restaurants serving paella.
Flat-Bottomed Paella Pan
Traditional paella pans are slightly convex (bottom of the pan protrudes). I'm told that this is to help with the first stage of paella making - the preparation of the sofrito (frying of the basic ingredients) - as the oil and ingredients easily collect in the middle and fry well. However, with vitro and induction hobs, the convex base means that while the centre of the pan is in contact with the hob, the outer area of the pan will be slightly raised, causing the heat to be more concentrated in the middle. Whilst this is by no means a deal-breaker - many of our customers are happily using traditional pans on vitro hobs, you just have to move the rice around a little - the ideal solution is a flat-bottomed pan which gives good contact with the hob around the entire bottom of the pan. Flat-bottomed pans are obviously a more modern invention than the traditional style, but are now being offered by most pan manufacturers in various formats: polished-steel, enamel-coated, stainless steel and non-stick. Verdict: more expensive that traditional pans but better on a vitro or induction hob.
Non-Stick Paella Pan
The most modern interpretation of the traditional paella pan - with a Tefal-style non-stick coating which completely eliminates the risk of rice burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan. Easily cleaned, maintained and guaranteed to last. Normally available in both traditional and flat-bottomed styles. Verdict: least traditional and priciest option, but you're getting a piece of kit fitting of a modern kitchen. As always, for the full range of steel, enamel, flat-bottom and non-stick paella pans, visit The Tapas Lunch Company online shop.