Frequently Asked Questions About Products

We have assembled a list of the most frequently asked questions. If you do not find your answer here, please visit our Customer Support page for ways to ask us a question. The Spanish and Portuguese Food universe is vast, and covering all questions here is of course impossible.


Paella is one of the world's iconic dishes. Chefs have made their careers with this dish, volumes have been written, thousands of web pages and online recipes give hundreds of tips. Therefore, it's impossible to give concise answers on this subject. Since we have sold thousands of Paella pans, literally tons of rice, and have a famous Paella recipe in circulation, we will answer a few basics here.

Both of the rice varieties are a short grain, firm cooking rice. Bomba rice absorbs more water. It should be used in a 1 part rice to 3 parts water ratio. We call for 1/3 cup of Bomba per person and 1 cup of liquid.
So-called Valencian paella rice is also a short-grained rice, but it absorbs less water and should be used in a 1 part rice, 2 parts water ratio. We call for 1/2 cup of rice and 1 cup of liquid per person. See our recipe here.

There are three basic paella pan materials: carbon steel, enamel, and stainless steel. Each pan comes at a different cost point and has pros and cons. Please see the FAQ for each pan type for details.

Carbon steel paella pans are the lowest cost and most traditional type of pan. They are made of a steel that will rust, so they need to be maintained well. They need to be seasoned by heating with oil until a protective layer is formed. They need to be scrubbed clean, dried, and re-oiled after each use. If they rust, they can be cleaned with a scrubbing pad and scouring powder, even when very rusty. They should not be soaked in water or left outside for extended periods. These pans impart a very slightly metallic taste to your paella. Some say that's part of the flavor, others object. Most carbon steel pans also sport red handles, which some consider to be the "most traditional" of looks.

Enameled paella pans (esmaltada) are slighly more expensive than carbon steel pans. They are the most care-free and robust type of pan. They are made steel that is coated in a glass-like coating that neither rusts nor really scratches. They do not need to be seasoned. They can be soaked in water or left outside for extended periods. These pans do not impart any taste to your paella. Some object to the lack of red handles, but we have seen plenty of paellas being made in Spain using this type of pan.

Each size of paella pan comes labelled with the ideal number of portions that can be made in the pan. The size in cm is usually also listed. A 34cm/6 portion pan will serve 6 people. The portions assure that you have the right amount of ingredients in the pan. We recommend a size that

  1. comfortable fits wherever you are cooking with it (burner size, oven opening)
  2. Feeds the number of people you are generally cooking for
  3. Is large enough to accommodate your largest group

A larger pan can always be used to make paella for fewer people than the pan is designed for. We NEVER recommend overfilling a paella. pan for more portions than it's designated for. This will almost always lead to burnt paella.

This is possibly the most argued over paella question and the answer is a very qualifed "it depends". A traditionalist from Valencia will NEVER put chorizo in paella, but lots of Spanish and other global chefs do include it in their recipes. Use of chorizo provides robust flavor and lots of oil to make sure you get good soccarat, the prized crusty rice at the bottom of the pan. In some paella styles, chorizo adds the right robustness, but in other styles, it may be overpowering. If using chorizo, try to use a softer kind, not the fully hard-cured kind. Dona Juana's Chorizo Bilbao is our top seller and our customers love this hearty sausage.

Meats and Cheese

Jamón Serrano is a type of Spanish dry-cured ham. It is made from white pigs and is known for its rich flavor and firm texture. The ham is typically cured for about 12 to 18 months in mountain regions, where the cool, dry air enhances the curing process. Jamón Serrano can be enjoyed in thin slices on its own, in sandwiches, or as part of various Spanish tapas dishes. Its name "Serrano" comes from the Spanish word for mountain, "sierra," reflecting the traditional high-altitude curing locations.

Jamón Ibérico is a premium Spanish dry-cured ham made from Iberian pigs, a breed native to Spain and Portugal. It is renowned for its exceptional flavor, marbling, and texture. The pigs are often fed a diet of acorns, which imparts a unique, nutty taste to the meat. The curing process can take anywhere from 24 to 48 months, resulting in a luxurious, melt-in-your-mouth ham. Jamón Ibérico is usually enjoyed in thin slices on its own or as part of gourmet dishes and tapas. It is considered one of the finest hams in the world, with its quality and flavor varying based on the pig's diet and curing duration.

Spanish Chorizo is a type of cured pork sausage that is a staple in Spanish cuisine. It is made from coarsely chopped pork and pork fat, seasoned with smoked paprika (pimentón) and garlic, which give it its distinctive red color and smoky flavor. There are two main types of Spanish chorizo: chorizo picante (spicy) and chorizo dulce (sweet). It can be eaten as is, sliced and served as part of a tapas spread, or used in cooking to add flavor to various dishes such as stews, soups, and paellas. Unlike Mexican chorizo, which is typically fresh and must be cooked before eating, Spanish chorizo is usually cured and ready to eat. Mexican Chorizo, while we love it, is no substitute for Spanish Chorizo.

Manchego cheese is a famous Spanish cheese made from the milk of Manchega sheep, native to the La Mancha region. It is a firm, aged cheese with a distinct, nutty flavor and a creamy texture. Manchego is typically aged for anywhere from 60 days to 2 years, with the flavor becoming more pronounced and intense the longer it is aged. The cheese has a characteristic crisscross pattern on its rind, which comes from the traditional esparto grass molds used in its production. Manchego can be enjoyed on its own, paired with fruits and nuts, or used in a variety of dishes. For more about Spanish cheeses, visit our Spanish Cheese Basics page

Spanish Sauces

Romesco sauce is a traditional Spanish sauce originating from Catalonia. It is typically made from roasted red peppers, tomatoes, garlic, almonds or hazelnuts, olive oil, and vinegar. The ingredients are blended together to create a rich, thick, and slightly smoky sauce. Romesco sauce is often served with grilled vegetables, fish, seafood, and meats, but it can also be used as a dip or spread. Its vibrant flavor and versatility make it a popular accompaniment in Spanish cuisine.

Salsa brava is a traditional Spanish sauce known for its bold, spicy flavor. It is typically made from a base of tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, and a variety of spices, including paprika, which gives it its characteristic heat and vibrant red color. Salsa brava is most famously served with patatas bravas, a popular tapas dish consisting of fried potato chunks. The sauce adds a zesty and fiery kick, making it a favorite in Spanish cuisine. It can also be used to enhance the flavor of other dishes, such as grilled meats and seafood.

Spanish alioli is a traditional garlic mayonnaise originating from the Mediterranean region of Spain. The name "alioli" comes from the Catalan words for garlic ("all") and oil ("oli"). It is made by emulsifying garlic and olive oil, sometimes with the addition of egg yolk and lemon juice to create a creamy, thick sauce. Alioli has a strong garlic flavor and is commonly served as a condiment or dip for seafood, grilled meats, potatoes, and vegetables. It is a staple in Spanish cuisine, known for its rich taste and versatility.

Spanish Food Classics

Patatas Bravas is a popular Spanish tapas dish consisting of crispy fried potatoes served with a spicy tomato-based sauce called salsa brava. The potatoes are typically cut into bite-sized chunks, fried until golden and crispy, and then topped with the zesty, slightly smoky sauce. Sometimes, aioli or garlic mayonnaise is also drizzled on top or served alongside. Patatas Bravas is a beloved snack or appetizer in Spain, known for its bold flavors and satisfying texture, making it a staple in tapas bars across the country.

A Spanish tortilla, also known as tortilla española or tortilla de patatas, is a traditional Spanish omelet made primarily with eggs, potatoes, and onions. The potatoes are cubed, onions are thinly sliced and slowly cooked in olive oil until tender, then mixed with beaten eggs and cooked to form a thick, hearty omelet. The tortilla is typically cooked on the stovetop until the edges are set, then flipped to cook the other side, resulting in a golden-brown exterior and a soft, slightly custardy interior. Spanish tortilla can be served warm or at room temperature, often as a tapa or a main dish, and is a beloved staple in Spanish cuisine. Visit our Spanish Tortilla Recipe to make it at home, and serve it with Allioli and Piquillo Peppers!