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Arroz Español - Spanish Rice

Not Every Spanish Rice is Paella Rice...

As part of our glossary of tapas ingredients and Spanish terms, this page is about the Spanish rice varieties that are used in Spanish rice recipes like Paellas, Arroces, Salteados, Guisados and Caldosos, and that you will come accross in many Spanish cookbooks and culinary sites.

Spanish rice: CalasparraValenciaAbsorption Capacity

What Do You Mean, Spanish Rice?

Rice is an important factor in the Spanish kitchen and in Spanish culture. So important, that in Spain there are two rice growing areas which have earned a Denominación de Origen, a guarantee for quality.

• Calasparra D.O.; and

• Valencia D.O.;


Calasparra Rice

Calasparra is a town situated in a rather mountaineous area in the Spanish province of Murcia. It is situated near the junction of a couple of rivers so there is no shortage of water, and rice has been grown here on the "arrozales" along the river Rio Segura since the 14th century.

The area is small, the paddies are small, and production-wise the Calasparra region is not really significant. But the rice that is grown here is of a superior quality, with an unequalled absorption capacity.

The rice varieties that are currently grown in the Calasparra area include:

• Arroz Balillax x Sollana or Arroz Sollana  (very suitable for paella);

• Arroz Bomba  (the best rice for paella!);

The Arroz Balillax x Sollana is also referred to as Arroz Sollana, or simply Arroz Calasparra.



Valencian Rice

The inlands of the province of Valencia are known to be the birthplace of the paella. In the 8th century the Moors have started the cultivation of rice here. They introduced a variety with a short and thick grain with a high absorption capacity that is very suitable for risottos and paellas.

The rice varieties that are currently grown in the Valenciana area include, amongst others:

• Arroz Fonsa  (very suitable for paella);

• Arroz Gleva  (very suitable for paella);

• Arroz Bahia  (very suitable for paella);

• Arroz Senia  (very suitable for paella);

• Arroz Bomba  (the best rice for paella!);

The Arroz Bahia and Arroz Senia rice corns differ in size but share the same taste, texture and cooking characteristics. Same goes for the Arroz Fonsa and Arroz Gleva.

If you see the expression "Arroz de Valencia" on a pack of rice without further details, you can be sure that it contains Fonsa, Gleva, Senia or Bahia. The thing is, if it contained the superior Arroz Bomba, it would be mentioned on the package.

Absorption Capacity of Spanish Rice

For the preparation of rice dishes it is important to know how much liquid has to be used. There are considerable differences between the different kinds of rices that are recommended for paella, so be careful...

Below we present a table with approximate weight factors and cooking times for the most important rice varieties. Please realize that these are only global estimates and we recommend that you follow the instructions - if any - on the package.

We also recommend that you evaluate the results after your first time cooking a particular rice and to note possible corrections or adjustments for the next time. For example, it could be that because of circumstances or the manner of cooking the liquids have evaporated faster than usual, resulting in a dryer rice. Next time you will adjust for that and so work towards a perfect result!

In short:

Rice Variety

Weight Factor *)

Cooking Time

Arroz Bomba de Calasparra

4.5 - 5.0

18 min.

Arroz Calasparra

3.0 - 3.5

20 min.

Arroz Balillax x Sollana

idem ditto

idem ditto

Arroz Sollana

idem ditto

idem ditto

Arroz Bomba de Valencia

3.0 - 3.5

16 min.

Arroz de Valencia

2.2 - 3.0

16 min.

Arroz Bahia

idem ditto

idem ditto

Arroz Senia

idem ditto

idem ditto

Arroz Fonsa

2.5 - 3.0

18 min.

Arroz Gleva

idem ditto

idem ditto

*) For the sake of clarity, by "Weight Factor" we mean the ratio between the weight of the water or stock and the weight of the dry rice.

Again, the above is just a guideline. Of course things will work out fine, and there's no need to be negative or pessimistic, it's just that we can not guarantee anything and we shall not be held responsible for any possible failure in your kitchen! (we know the feeling, from our own experience... ;o)

Above table can be adjusted without notice based on developing expertise... We recommend that you always follow the instructions - if any - on the package and then to apply your own experience where possible.

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