When talking about paella, what is the socarrat?
So you’ve purchased your Spanish food supplies, prepped the ingredients and are in the final stage of cooking a paella. But how can you cook it properly to add depth of flavor? The solution is in the socarrat, which is the caramelized and crispy rice layer that forms between the paella pan and rice. This bottom layer of rice is only a few millimeters in depth but adds an explosion of flavor that complements the loose softer surrounding rice. The socarrat forms from the mixture of fat and starch that settles in the bottom of the paella, which is why it concentrates the paella flavors. This rice begins to stick to the pan (in a good way) and becomes crunchy. In Spain, families fight over who gets the tasty socarrat.
To get the perfect socarrat Spanish Colmado recommends the following:
*Make sure the stock used, either purchased or homemade, has enough fat and/or collagen to help the rice caramelize.
*While cooking the paella be careful to control the amount of liquid added. This includes liquid from the veggies used in the sofrito and from the stock added to cook the rice.
*Don’t overload the paella with too many ingredients since there should be a proper ratio between rice and toppings. This also helps to make sure the paella isn’t too deep (1 inch at the most).*Five minutes before the paella is ready, one should increase the heat to a medium-high intensity for about 3-4 min until you start hearing a crackling noise coming from the rice. This is a sign of the bottom layer getting toasted, but be careful not to let it burn. Buen provecho!