La Soccarat

Paella's finishing touch, La Soccarat, is the most simple yet most elusive part of the process. La Soccarat is the slightly burned crust of rice on the bottom of the Paella pan (i.e. the tinge of black on the photo below). Why would you intentionally burn the rice? Well first, it is only a slight burn, and second, because it adds an orchard-like authenticity to your Paella that you're sure to remember for weeks.

Legend has it that to achieve a good Soccarat, you should turn up the heat when the Paella is near completion, and then . . . listen closely . . . and the Paella will start to crackle ever so subtley. In my experience, this is a bit easier said than done. But it doesn't hurt to try.

As Paella gains international recognition, the subtleties of the Paella are even becoming 'urban hip.' For example, I recently read in the NY Times that there is a Paella Bar in Manhattan called Soccarat (above). Who would have thought? Regardless, the NY Times suggests that the Soccarat "is the most rewarding part [of the Paella], with nutty, toasty nuances." Very well said (I suppose).

10 comments:

  1. I have a friend from Elche that calls the burned part "toridito", and yes, it is the best part.

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  2. Toridito? I have never heard of it.

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  3. I've been eating paella up and down the length and breadth of Spain for over 40 years and I've never and I mean NEVER been served a paella with a crust. You'd think the Spanish would know how to make their own national dish. I'm absolutely gutted to find out after all this time that what I've been eating is not authentic.

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  4. To the commenter above: I lived in Spain for nine months. Despite what castellanos think, paella is a VALENCIAN dish, not Spanish. My grandma is from Valencia, and she taught me what soccarat was before I even knew I was Spanish. It's very common to hear that word when you eat paella with Valencians. You're probably accustomed to eating crappy paella from restaurants in Madrid. The authentic experience is eating homemade paella in Valencia - one that was cooked over an open flame. If you've never never had homemade Valencian paella, then you've never had authentic paella.

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  5. The second picture is so nice. I like it. Say hello to you. I search "soccarat" to find your blog by Google. I will cook the Paella in this holiday. I love it, that picture.

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  6. This is a comment for John. First of all there is no such thing as a crappy paella. Every region of Spain has it's own version of the national dish. I am not disagreeing that paella originated in Valencia but to call a paella from Madrid crap is a little overboard. My family is from Madrid but moved to Alicante. Our family paella is a mix of a Madrid to Valencia style. I agree with you that the anonymous guy above probably did go to restaurants that didn't serve socorrat. I mean why serve someone burnt food, right?!? I always said that socorrat is a family secret and should only be enjoyed by us that cook the dish in our homes.

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  7. The difference between socorrat and burned rice is like the difference between trapped anti matter and well, what we all have here.

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  8. I'm from Mexican heritage and when my Mexican born mother made rice (arroz Mexicano) there was always soccarat at the bottom of the pan, although we never called it that. But I'll tell you what my brother and would fight for that magical chewy, crusty, salty treat.

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  9. I knew a south american lady who called it "con con". Not sure where exactly she was from, it was 15 years ago. Anyway, she cooked it for me once. It was amazing.

    She said it's considered the best part, and I agree. There's just something special about the texture of slightly scorched rice.

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  10. My mother's family comes from Majorca, though she was born and raised in Puerto Rico.
    The spanish rice she made would at times have that bit of crusty slightly burnt rice on the bottom of the pan, which she called pegao. My brothers and sisters prayed that there would be "pagao" for us to eat as a delicious, crunchy, salty, tasty treat. I have never been able to duplicate it when I make spanish rice. I suspect it has something to do with the pan I use.

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