Word Of The Day: Socarrat

Socorrat... A beautiful word for something seemingly banal — the rice that gets crunchy and forms a crust at the bottom of the pan. You might wonder why crusty rice deserves such a name, especially since it is a by-product that many people discard.

A true paella is cooked in a wide, shallow metal pan so that the rice is thinly spread and touching the bottom: prime conditions for rice crust formation. Socorrat, from the Spanish verb socarrar (meaning to singe), is an intrinsic part of paella, the proverbial icing on the cake (albeit in reverse). In order to achieve socorrat in paella, one must turn up the heat at the end of cooking and engage the senses: The rice should smell toasted, making a crackling sound, and it should feel a bit hard when you poke a spoon into the bottom of the pan. Et voilà, you've got socorrat.

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