The One Spanish Recipe Every Home Cook Should Master, Says a Top Chef

Few dishes are as synonymous with Spain than paella. The flavorful Valencian rice dish tantalizes the senses. First, with its heady aroma, then, with a visual feast of color, and finally with the crunch of a prawn or crack of a mussel shell.

You don't have to travel to Barcelona or Valencia to indulge, though. Marc Vidal, the executive chef at Boqueria restaurant in New York City and author of a new cookbook by the same name, has spent years perfecting the recipe. "The mark of a good paella is the socorrat (the crispy, caramelized base), a succulent center, and lots of amazing flavor," he tells MyDomaine.

"Of course, there's a debate about what ingredients belong in a paella based on varied preparations in different regions of Spain," he continued. "We love to make ours Catalan-style with sofrito (caramelized tomatoes, onions and garlic); picada (parsley and saffron-scented olive oil), lobster stock, cuttlefish, squid, mussels, clams, and cod."

If it's your first time attempting the iconic dish, Vidal says it's worth buying a proper paella pan. "If you are in a pinch, you can still make paella in a regular pan following our recipe, but you won't find yourself with the desired crispy texture of the rice on the bottom," he says. The other major mistake people often make? "Stirring the rice! Don't do it, or you will end up with a risotto instead!"

If you only learn to master one Spanish dish, this should be it. Ahead, Vidal shares the best paella recipe from Boqueria: A Cookbook From Barcelona to New York.