At 3 years old, Miguel Rebolledo ate paella for the first time. When he was 6, he made the dish himself. Now, more than 30 years later, Chef Rebolledo has perfected the age-old plate, fusing traditional Spanish techniques with Miami flavor.
Rebolledo, executive chef of Bulla Doral, which is scheduled to open early this year, along with Diego Solano of Bulla Coral Gables, will lead an intimate cooking demonstration for paella tonight at Bulla Coral Gables. Expect Rebolledo to share secrets he learned from renowned Spanish chefs José Andrés and Ferran Adrìa about how to make the most authentic version of the dish.
"Paella is the name for the pan," Rebolledo says. "Almost anything you cook in the paella pan is called paella. Around here, you can find all different types of things in a paella, like chorizo or plantains. But we never put that inside paella in Spain. We want to show people how to make the real thing from my country."
Considered Spain's national dish, paella is a Valencian-born rice plate that originated in the mid-19th Century. Rebolledo, who was born and raised in Santander, Spain, grew up eating various versions of paella and associates the dish with family.
"The city I'm from has a lot of seafood," he says. "And on weekends in the summertime, my family would go to the beach and either make paella or go to a restaurant to eat it. It was the thing to do."
Though many Miami eateries offer spins on paella, Rebolledo says there are a few factors that set the authentic version apart from all others.
"When people make paella around here, they use all different types of rice," Rebolledo says. "In Spain, we don't do that. You need a rice that takes the flavor from the broth and the sofrito sauce."
Rebolledo recommends using bomba rice, a short-grain variety that absorbs the weight and flavor of the paella broth. Making a strong broth for the paella base and a savory sofrito sauce are important factors too.
"To make a good sofrito, you need a lot of onions, tomatoes, and rich ingredients," he says. "It also takes about three to four hours to cook. It's almost like a tomato sauce. If you make the sofrito strong and the broth thick, the paella will turn out right."
The dish might sound complicated, but Rebolledo says it's worth it.
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SHOW ME HOW
"If somebody shows you how to make it, it's actually easy to do it again," he says. "It's also supposed to be fun and get family and friends together. Everyone makes something to put in the paella, and afterward, you all eat it together. It's really nice."
The demonstration begins at 6 p.m., and tickets cost $65 per person, which includes dinner, a copy of Bulla’s famous paella recipe, and a signed certificate of completion making each attendee a “Profesional Paella Participante." Tickets are available at coralgableschamber.org/events.
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