Paella pans are wide and shallow cookware pieces used for cooking paella -a Spanish dish- and other foods. They work well with different cooking methods such as roasting, sauteing, boiling, etc. However, for optimal performance, you need to season them regularly. Below is a guide on what you should consider when buying a paella pan and how to season one.
This article will cover
- Why Use A Paella Pan
- How To Season A Paella Pan
- 4 Steps To Season A Paella Pan
- How To Use And Maintain A Paella Pan
- What To Consider When Buying Paella Pans
Why Use A Paella Pan
Paella pans were named after the paella dish, which originated from the Valencia region, Spain. However, paella pans aren’t used for cooking paella dishes only. They are also used for stir-frying and searing chicken fillets, etc. They are versatile pieces of cookware you should have in your kitchen.
One major characteristic of a paella pan is its large size, ranging from eight to sixty inches. It is easy and quick to cook for a large number of people with a paella pan. Since the pans come in different sizes, you have to consider the number of people you will be cooking for and buy a size that fits that requirement.
Paella pans are made to withstand high temperatures, and their flat surface makes them suitable for baking and roasting foods. You can bake your cookies or roast large cuts of meat in the pan. Your food will come out richly flavored and uniformly baked or roasted.
Cooking vegetable, meat, and fish dishes
Due to their shallow and wide structure, you can use paella pans for cooking large fish, meat, or vegetable dishes. Instead of cooking your vegetables or meat in batches, you can prepare them at once in a paella pan. Besides, it puts the perfect sear on your meat fillets, etc., and makes the liquid in your foods evaporate quickly as it has no lid.
Paella pans are great for campfire cooking as well. It is easy and more fun to use. When using the pan over an open fire, ensure the pan is adequately supported and some centimeters away from the ground. Don’t place it directly on the wood, as that can collapse the fire and cause accidents. Also, use mitts when handling the pan and long spoons to stir what you’re cooking.
Paella pans can be used as a presentation platter on your dining table to serve appetizers or as a beautiful display. Ensure you wash and season the pan properly before you use it for presentation. If you need to cover the pan, you can use the lids of other cookware that are large enough.
4 Steps To Season A Paella Pan
Most paella pans are made of carbon steel, which needs to be seasoned regularly for high efficiency and durability. Below is a guide on how to season a paella pan.
1. Clean and dry the pan thoroughly
The first step in seasoning your paella pan is to clean it. You shouldn’t season it with dirt, or else; the seasoning will seal dirt into the pan’s surface and contaminate your food. Apply your dishwashing liquid on a soft cloth and wash the pan with warm water. Then, dry with a paper towel. If you just bought the Paella pan, ensure you wash off the coating that comes with it. You can boil water inside the pan on your stovetop to remove all the manufacturing residues.
2. Apply oil to the surface and cook
After cleaning the pan, the next step is to apply oil to both the interior and exterior with cooking oil. You can use an oven or stove to heat the pan. If you’re using an oven, preheat the oven to a high temperature, at least 400° Fahrenheit.
Then, put the pan in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes before removing it. If you’re using a stove, dry the pan and wipe the interior with a thick layer of cooking oil. Set the stove’s heat to medium and cook the pan until it becomes golden. Remove from the stovetop and allow to cool.
3. Clean the excess oil
After removing the pan from the oven or stovetop, allow it to cool. Once you can handle it, wipe off excess oil from the pan with a soft cloth. If you apply oil to both sides of the pan, be sure to wipe both sides. At this point, your paella pan will look different. It is normal.
4. Store appropriately
Once you’ve seasoned your paella pan, you can either use it or store it for later use. If you’re storing it, ensure you don’t place any cookware inside the pan without using a stacking pad. Doing so will destroy the effects of the seasoning on your pan.
How To Use And Maintain A Paella Pan
How you use and maintain your paella pan determines its level of versatility and durability. Maintaining a paella pan isn’t a lot of work, but you need to be consistent with it. Besides, only maintenance will preserve the seasoning. Here is how to use and maintain your paella pan
Clean the pan rightly
Check the product details of the paella pan you buy. Usually, instructions on how to clean the pan should be listed in it. For instance, if you’re using a paella pan made with carbon steel, handwashing is the way to go.
Using a dishwasher will damage the pan. However, if the manufacturer recommends it, you can use a dishwasher. The key is to follow what the manufacturer recommends since they know what’s best for their product.
Season the pan regularly
Seasoning a paella pan isn’t a one-off thing; it should be done regularly throughout the pan’s lifespan. Seasoning preserves the qualities of the pan, thereby making it last longer. If you don’t season the pan but use it continually, you will destroy the coating on the pan’s surface.
Paella pans don’t need high heat to cook your food. They have good heat conduction and distribution, so low/medium heat is enough. If your recipe requires increased heat at some point in time, set your stove to low heat and gradually increase to medium heat. Be careful not to let the heat get out of hand.
Use metal/wooden utensils
Paella pans get very hot, so it’s not advisable to use plastic utensils with them. Wooden or metal utensils will do. However, when using metal utensils, be careful not to scratch the coating of the cooking surface. Don’t use metal utensils with very sharp grooves.
Protect the pan from rust
As much as possible, protect the pan from rusting. If you clean and season the pan regularly and adequately, you won’t have a problem with rust. However, if you do, you can always restore a rusty paella pan by scrubbing the affected area with baking soda and steel wool. After, season the pan.
What To Consider When Buying Paella Pans
There are many paella pans in the market, so you need to know how to tell the good ones from the bad ones. Here are some major things to consider when buying paella pans.
Paella pans are made from different materials such as carbon steel, enamel steel, stainless steel, etc. Most paella pans are constructed with carbon steel because of how well it conducts and distributes heat and the unique flavor it imparts into paella dishes.
It is also lightweight, so you don’t have to stress yourself handling it. However, it requires regular maintenance as it is prone to rust. Stainless steel paella pans are heavy, rust-free, and more durable but are heavy.
You won’t find it easy carrying them around. Lastly, enamel-steel paella pans are lightweight, dishwasher safe, easy to maintain, and not prone to rust, but don’t have the same heat conductivity as carbon steel. Choose a paella pan that you have both the time and resources to maintain.
Paella pans come in different sizes, from 8 inches to 60 inches. The number of people you’ll be cooking for determines the size of the pan you’ll get. Check the number of servings you can cook in a pan before you buy it.
Also, consider your heat source. For instance, a stovetop can adequately heat a pan that is larger than 20 inches, while the largest for an oven is 18 inches. The rule of thumb is to choose the pan that works well with your heat source.
Equally important is the compatibility of your cooktop with the design of the pan you want to buy. For instance, a traditional paella pan is dimpled at the bottom, making it unsuitable for smooth cooktops.
If you’re using a smooth cooktop such as an induction range, you have to go for a flat-bottom paella pan. Besides, if you want to use your pan on induction cooktops, ensure the manufacturer recommends it. To tell if your pan is compatible with an induction cooktop, place it on a magnet. If the magnet clings to the bottom, it is compatible.
To protect the versatility and durability of your paella pan, you need to season them often. However, seasoning is just a step among the techniques for maintaining your paella pan. You need to use, clean, and store the pan properly too. To enjoy using your paella pan, buy one that meets your needs and is of high quality.