How to Make Paella with Socarrat at Home: the Best-kept Secret.

Zhanna Komarova
5 min readJun 29, 2020


Sometimes I think of it like this: my mum was pregnant, her favorite food was authentic paella with socarrat and so here I am, the result of this love! I travel a lot due to work and every time I get a chance to try paella in a new place, I go for it. During my last trip to Spain, I was wandering along the beach with no hope of finding a decent dining experience when quite by accident I stumbled upon this restaurant and found the best paella in Barceloneta and probably one of the best in my life.

Flavorsome, crusty, dense and juicy at the same time with a slightly burnt layer of rice at the bottom, which in Spanish is called socarrat, and the delicate taste that comes from fresh cooking over an open fire. The kind of taste that makes you forget about calories and eat up the entire paella in the blink of an eye. In the end, I couldn’t help but catch the chef and prize out the secret of cooking paella with crust.

Best paella in Barceloneta — Mana 75

Revealing the Secret of Paella with Socarrat

My only goal here is for everyone else to experience those gourmet feelings (like in Ratatouille) by cooking this paella with socarrat at home, without needing to go to Barcelona…although for me Barcelona makes everything better.

All chefs have secrets when it comes to cooking, somewhat like grandmothers, and never ever share them. But that chef found me so inspired that he couldn’t resist, and shared some pro tips on how to prepare paella with socarrat: the exquisite caramelized layer between the pan and paella, the most valuable millimeters in the world, which turn a paella from a simple dish into a miracle.

paella restaurant Barcelona — Mana 75

Play with the amount of fat

Without fat, there is no socarrat. Since sugar and fats fall to the bottom of the pan during the cooking process, they are responsible for the concentrated taste of the freshly toasted layer and give it maximum flavor.

Fat is very important when making paella with socarrat, but it can also be dangerous, if there is too much, you will not get soccarat, but the sole of a boot. In addition, the rice will be heavy and unpleasant to chew and digest, as anyone who has suffered from digesting sticky rice knows.

The secret is to find a balance, experimenting with the addition of fat when frying various ingredients in paella. If you cook vegan rice with vegetable broth, you can be more generous with fat and oil. If the broth contains too much fat, cool it down and remove the excess fat.

Seafood Paella in Barceloneta — Mana 75

Be careful with the liquid

Liquid is the worst enemy of paella and socarrat (as long as there is liquid, nothing will fry). There are many factors that need to be controlled, which is why fried rice is so difficult to prepare.

First, you need to completely dehydrate the sauce. It is important to cook it slowly until it turns a. caramel-brown color and loses 90% of its liquid. We want to keep the flavor, but get rid of the water.

Can we add onion? Yes — this is entirely to your taste, since a good roasting of onions removes the liquid so it can no longer wet anything.

Another liquid to consider is the amount of broth we add to the rice to cook it. Another inconsistent piece of science: 1100 milliliters of water at sea level will ideally prepare 320 grams of rice. But at an altitude of 2000 meters, nothing of the kind will come of it. You will need more water, as well as more time to cook it.

The third factor is even more difficult to control: the added ingredients. To avoid a rice drama don’t to overdo it with the number of ingredients or to add them in well-cooked so that they do not add liquid. If you put a lot of mussels and clams in the rice, you will overload it.You can add mussels and at the same time preserve the taste of the rice as follows: evaporate water from them in a strainer. Take them away as soon as they open. When the rice is ready, put them on top.

Socarrat is not a burnt portion of the dish

We must not confuse the pleasant flavor of the caramelized and crusty layer of socarrat in the paella with a burnt layer of rice, anyone who has tasted burnt rice would be agree with me. We are looking for a pleasant brown color with a delicious taste, but not soot, which can cause the whole dish to taste bitter. Do not leave the pan over the flame for too long — rice burns more easily than you think!

Fire is your best ally (or your worst enemy)

If you have tried to cook rice in a forest, you deserve all our admiration and a Michelin star. The fire must be adjusted and well distributed. Precisely for this reason, there are special stoves for cooking paella with a large number of heating points. Proper distribution of the heat source helps to prepare famous paella with socarrat.

Paella restaurant in La Barceloneta — Mana 75

You are the main critic of your Paella and Socarrat

Watch your rice carefully when it dries. You can identify this moment when the noise changes from gurgling to hissing, which is very similar to what you hear when frying something. Pay attention to the fumes to ensure it is frying, not burning. And finally, cook with love for yourself and those closest to you, who will be your most adoring critics, ready to give you all the Michelin stars in the world.

Take into consideration all the points above, and I guarantee you the same mind-blowing paella experience that the amazing restaurant Maná 75 gave me back in Barcelona.

Best paella in Barceloneta — Maná 75
Maná 75 — Paella Restaurant Barcelona