By Food & Wine
Updated March 31, 2015

You can be as creative as you want with your paella as long as you have quality ingredients and the right equipment. Here's what you need:

* Spanish rice Calasparra bomba, preferred by many Spanish cooks, is not available in the United States. I recommend plain Calasparra, a short-to-medium grain Spanish rice. Like bomba, it can soak up a maximum amount of flavorful liquid, becoming plump without turning mushy. Good paellas can also be made with other short-to-medium grain rices from Spain, California and Italy. Note that while one cup of dry Calasparra rice requires more than three cups of cooking liquid, a cup of any other short-to-medium grain rice requires only two cups of liquid.

* Pimentón de La Vera My trick for imbuing kitchen-cooked paella with an outdoors wood-smoke flavor is to use pimentón de La Vera, paprika from Spain's western region of Extremadura. The smoky, brick-red paprika has a warm, rounded flavor. Pimentón is produced by drying and smoking mature red peppers over oak fires, then stone grinding them to a uniquely smooth, almost talclike powder.

* Paella pan A good, dry paella is ideally cooked in a proper paella pan--a two-handled, wide, shallow, flat-bottomed pan with sloping sides. This type of pan allows liquid to evaporate quickly while the rice cooks uncovered over low heat. As an alternative, you can choose a very wide and shallow skillet.

These and other necessities--including, for purists, round iron grates for supporting a paella pan over a wood fire
--are available from The Spanish Table, 1427 Western Ave., Seattle (206-682-2827;