When it comes to their looks and the climate in which they grow, they have a lot in common. However, paella rice and risotto rice are not the same.
There is no such thing as paella rice or risotto rice.
Before we take a closer look at the differences and similarities, it is essential to look closely at the specific types of rice.
The title paella rice or risotto rice itself says nothing at all. Both terms aren’t names for any specific product. They are only a classification which you can use them for, either in paella or risotto.
Underlying there are different kinds of rice for both dishes. For paella, the rice types ‘Arroz Bomba’ and ‘Arroz Senia/Arroz Bahia’ are used. The second one is usually indicated as Arroz Extra on the label.
Both rice types are great for cooking paella, but they are not equal. We will discuss the characteristics and differences of these rice varieties in more detail in an article about paella rice.
The same also applies to risotto rice. There you will find the luxurious ‘Riso Carnaroli’ and the more common ‘Riso Arborio.’
Arroz Bomba and Riso Carnaroli are the most exclusive varieties of paella rice and risotto rice. When we compare them, we can see a couple of similarities.
The most important thing is that both rice varieties have a high amylose level. Amylose is a constituent of starch and acts as a binder in the dish.
Rice varieties with a high amylose level also have a relatively low glycemic index. This results in smaller fluctuations in the blood sugar level, which is beneficial for people with for example diabetes.
The amylose in the rice dissolves in the liquid in which the rice is cooked and also acts as a binder for that liquid. It also reduces the stickiness of the rice.
This is important because the rice in risotto and paella should have a loose structure. The dish should contain as many loose grains of rice as possible. This is contrary to many Asian rice dishes like sushi.
The main differences between paella rice and risotto rice are in the usage in the dishes.
Good risotto should be creamy, while a good paella should be on the dry side, and even a bit crispy.
Also, paella is prepared in a large, shallow paella pan while risotto is made in a deeper pan. This difference in preparation makes that the moisture is absorbed by the rice differently and gives the dishes their different structure.
Therefore, it is true that both types of rice are very suitable for the dish for which they are grown. Exchanging them is not recommended. It will not benefit the final result.