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I often cook a paella outside. I use chicken and prawns. Usually, I fry chicken for 30 mins to brown and cook first - then I remove it. Fry the prawns and remove them, then fry the sofrito. Once that is done I add the rice to fry it a little. Then everything goes back in plus the water.

My question is does frying the rice like this make much difference?

I notice that in "Paella Valencia" all ingredients are kept in the pan, water is added and boiled for a while to ensure chicken is cooked - then rice is added direct to the hot liquid(without frying first) in the pan.

Do you think you get as good a result - it's certainly much easier and uses less dishes!

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Do you think you get as good a result

There are lots of different techniques for preparing rice, and all are equally valid. They do lead to different results, but it is up to you do decide which one you prefer. There is not one "right" way we can recommend over the other.

does frying the rice like this make much difference

Yes, there is a noticeable difference. Rice pre-fried in fat has a different texture. It is less fluffy, and can be even slightly slimy if cooked in too much water. It does not dry out as quickly as rice cooked in watery liquid only. It also has a slightly different taste, especially if you use a non-neutral oil. But this difference in aroma may be too subtle to notice if your paella is heavily seasoned, it is most pronounced when the rice is cooked on its own and served as a side.

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That "oily" feel is quite important in Paella I think –  ManInMoon May 2 '13 at 11:28
    
One important point is that individual grains coated with oil will not stick to each other. When paella rice becomes sticky, it's overdone. –  BaffledCook May 3 '13 at 14:12
    
@BaffledCook. Exactly! Which is why I usually go about this the long way. However, I suspect most large scale outdoor preparations would not bother. And so I wondered if good results could be achieve even without this? And if there are any "tricks" to help it along. –  ManInMoon May 4 '13 at 8:48
    
Tricks not needed! Worked very well without pre-frying the rice. –  ManInMoon May 11 '13 at 8:25

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