Paella requires rice that will absorb a lot of flavorful liquid yet the grains stays separate. Paella isn’t ever meant to be creamy like an Italian risotto or dry like a Mexican Sopa Seca.
The ideal paella rice is a short-grain Spanish rice grown in southeastern Calasparra, which produces the famed Bomba rice. This rice is slow-growing, very dry and will absorb significantly more liquid than other varieties of short-grain rice.
Finding the town of Calasparra is not easy even though it received in 1986 the first ever Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO) for rice. It’s still a widely undiscovered region by tourists and so is its fascinating rice legacy.
Altitude, contrasting warm day and cold night temperatures, cool and clean water in steady circulation, much care and of course the best agricultural practices provide Bomba rice with a special consistency and guarantee its widely recognized excellence.
The rice requires a longer cooking time and more water, but triples its size. In a gastronomic sense, this means that Bomba rice, while remaining firm, slightly al dente, provides a special richness without getting mushy. It never breaks up so that it preserves all the flavor of the absorbed sauce.
And this is where Bomba rice (whose name translated means “bomb”) gets its name: When biting the rice, the accumulated flavors explode in the diner’s mouth.
The proof that the name is well earned can be found the traditional Arroz con Conejo y Caracoles dish (rice with rabbit and snails) that is original parent of paella.