Maybe you’ve heard about paella as a typical dish from Valencia, but did you know that the region of Valencia is also known for the cultivation of rice – the ingredient known as the king of Valencian cuisine? In this article you will learn more about rice cultivation and types of Valencia rice.
The cultivation of rice was brought to Spain in the 8th century by the Arabs and the region of Albufera in Valencia has become the primary producer of this Asian cereal, mainly thanks to its natural wetlands. However, you can find rice fields in many villages along the coast between Valencia and Alicante. Read this article to learn more about the history of rice in Spain.
One crop of rice takes an entire year to grow. It all begins in February when the soil is fertilized. In March farmers add clay to the soil and mix it to create mud. This helps with water retention. After that the seeds are distributed. In May the rice plants are replanted in other fields and harvested in September.
Types of rice
So what kind of rice is it that grows in this otherwise very dry soil? This kind of rice has its own name – Valencia rice. It’s a short-grain rice used mainly for paella, therefore it’s sometimes called paella rice. Note that only 6 % of all rice production in Spain is long-grain rice, which is grown in Andalucía.
Valencia rice contains high quantity of starch and when cooked is moist and sticky. It can absorb a lot of liquid, that’s why it’s perfect for all kinds of stews and soups. There are 3 types of Valencia rice – Bomba, Senia and Bahía. All of them are registered under the Protected Designation of Origin (Denominación de origen). Bomba rice is considered to be the most precious one and is expected to be used in the traditional Mediterranean dishes. Try typical Spanish food with Bomba rice in one of many restaurants in Albufera.
You can buy Valencia rice in every local supermarket, although for a bigger selection you should head to local markets. The biggest market in Valencia is Central Market and it’s open daily from 7 to 15, except Sundays.
June is a perfect time to visit the rice fields and relax on the Valencia beach. Sign up for our Spanish courses and start exploring Valencia today!