Spanish Rice with Shrimp

There comes a time in your cooking life when you realize that you’re attempting to prepare something significantly important. Something besides just the next recipe or adventure in the kitchen. Something that goes beyond just the food, the next blog post, or one self.

For me that realization came when I attempted to make Spanish Rice for the first time.

I’ll preface this right now: I still know entirely too little about traditional Spanish food. But I am learning. I am studying. I am in awe of the food history and flavors of these foods I am reading about. My journey continues of course, hopefully with a trip to Spain one day to experience these heavenly dishes I have dancing around in my mind.

Here I recount my 3rd time attempting to make Spanish Rice. When I began researching traditional Spanish Rice my mind was spinning. Every recipe I read was different. Some with garlic, some without. Some with water, some with chicken broth. Some with only red peppers, some with yellow and green. The confusion continued …

I continued reading and watching some recipes on YouTube about how some chefs were preparing Spanish Rice. While I cannot speak with any level of truth about what exactly is the correct way of preparing Spanish Rice – I concluded that there were many ways to prepare this dish. This is something that still doesn’t sit right with me totally – mostly because I want to get it right. I wanted to prepare the dish the correct way, not a modernized or modified way. Alas, my questions still remain and I hope to eventually learn (without any doubt) the correct way of preparing traditional Spanish rice.

For now, my recipe below is my best attempt at studying the dish, the different variations of ingredients and preparation – all in hopes I present the dish with the utmost respect is surely deserves. For those that may be reading that have experience with this dish – please feel free to comment if I’ve made any glaring and horrible mistakes!

Spanish Rice (My best attempt)

Ingredients:

2 cups long grain white rice

1 lb Fresh Jumbo Shrimp (Head on)

4 cups chicken brothe

Salt/Pepper

2 cans tomato sauce (no seasoning)

1 Green Pepper / 1 Red Pepper

Fresh Parsley

4 Cloves Garlic

White Pepper

1/2 Spanish Onion

Cumin

Adobo seasoning

Oregano

EVOO & Veg Oil

Preparation:

Heat a large sauce pan with 1/3 cup of EVOO.  Roughly chop 1/2 a green pepper and 1/2 red pepper. Roughly chop 1/2 your Spanish Onion. Finely chop your cloves of garlic.

Bring a medium pot of water to a rolling boil. Carefully place your shrimp (head on) in the water.

While your shrimp boils add your fresh ingredients in the large sauce pan, allowing your peppers and onion to sweat down. Add a pinch of salt/pepper.

Remove your shrimp from the boiling water. Once your shrimp turn a bright orange color they should be finished. Remove the shrimp from the water and set aside.

In your large sauce pan, add your tomato sauce and chicken brothe. Bring to a rolling boil then add your rice. (General rule is for every 1 cup of rice, use 2 cups of water or liquid). For this recipe I used chicken broth instead of water.

Note: It is incredibly easy to burn the bottom of your pan with the rice. This creates a sticky messy disaster and your dish will taste of burnt rice. Not good. To avoid this keep close watch on the temperature and add 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil to your pan. This helps prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Gradually add in the remaining seasonings. Add a pinch of white pepper, cumin, oregano and Adobo seasoning. Add your roughly chopped parsley.

Cover your pan half way, reduce the heat and keep careful watch. The rice should be absorbing the liquid visibly more and more as it continues to cook.

The rice should be fully cooked within 10-15 minutes typically. Once your rice is nice and has taken a somewhat thick consistency – add in your shrimp after you’ve removed their shells.

Continue to cook on low heat for another 5 minutes.

Taste your dish at this point – adjusting seasoning as you like. Add Salt/Pepper if necessary.

Finally, remove from the heat and let sit for 15 minutes to allow flavors to continue to evolve.  I’ve noticed the longer the dish sits the flavors become bolder and incorporate more overall.

And there you have it – my best take on Spanish Rice.

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Thai Hot Pepper Wings

Do you like hot or spicy food? Do you long for that seemingly never ending dull ache that lasts hours after you’ve finished your last bite of a spice infused meal? If so, we probably should be friends.

Spicy foods and flavors in my opinion should have its own food group. Its own section at the farmers market. It should be an exclusive club only set aside for those that have proven their prowess amongst the culinary gods – those that have survived a spicy dish so savory and painful the juxtaposition of flavors is both confusing and dizzying.

Well, maybe I’ve gone too far. But alas, the heat is going to keep you coming back for more. Today’s recipe is no less than a plethora of combined flavors that leave your mouth tingling long after your last bite. Let the madness begin:

Ingredients:

1-2 lbs fresh chicken wings – never frozen

Thai Hot peppers

Green chili peppers

Ginger

Garlic

Salt/Pepper

Adobo seasoning (optional)

Cayenne Pepper

Recipe:

Start off cleaning your chicken wings. It goes without saying that when working with raw chicken one should be highly attentive to avoiding cross-contamination. I cook a lot of chicken and I always am super careful of cleaning up properly afterwards from all surfaces, knives, etc – again in order to eliminate cross contamination with raw chicken.

For this recipe I boil the chicken wings for 15-20 minutes in a large pot of rolling/boiling water.

While your chicken wings are boiling begin prepping your other ingredients.

Thinly slice a generous handful of your Thai Hot Peppers. These are usually available at any decent farmers market.

Thinly slice a few green chili’s.

Finely chop 4-5 cloves of garlic along with 1/4 or so of a stalk of fresh ginger. Bring these two ingredients together to a fine mince.

Add your ingredients to a large sauce pan with 1/3 cup vegetable oil.

Set your sauce pan on high on the stove, brining all the ingredients to a boiling simmer.

By now your boiled wings should be finished. Remove from the water and carefully incorporate them into your saucepan, liberally spreading the ingredients allowing to coat the wings. Add a pinch of salt, black pepper and if you would like some Adobo seasoning for extra flavor. You can also add a touch of sugar to cut the heat if you want. Continue to stir until your wings have a nice coating and brown to them.

Plate with fresh parsley and enjoy.

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Linguine with Baby Octopus

Spring is finally here, officially anyways. I think it is? It’s been raining for the past four days straight here on the east coast so you wouldn’t know it to look outside. Nonetheless it hasn’t stopped me from making some favorite dishes that come back into season once the winter departs.

One of my favorite dishes is Linguine with Baby Octopus. Personally I think octopus gets a bad wrap. It can be heard in various dark culinary corners that it’s “too rubbery” or “it has no taste”. For those I direct people to the mastermind of Jiro and how his disciples carefully massage an octopus for hours to bring out the flavor and soften the tentacled beast.

Ok, so I don’t got that far. But I do believe octopus can be an awesome ingredient, especially to a pasta dish. Linguine with Baby octopus is an incredibly easy recipe to make and variations of it can be found in almost any pasta cookbook old and new.

I’ve taken my favorite aspects of preparing this dish from a few different recipes, combining the ingredients I feel work well and discarding others that don’t quite make the grade.

So, here we go:

First, and most importantly. You need to find fresh baby octopus that is preferably already cleaned and ‘de-beaked!’ (Yes octopus have little beaks inside and you do not want to chomp down on one in the middle of your dinner!).  The below recipe is for an average dinner that should easily feed 3-4 hungry people.

Ingredients:

1 lb fresh baby octopus (cleaned and de-beaked) (Usually can be found in any decent farmers market).

EVOO

6 scallions chopped into 1 inch pieces

About 3/4 cup of fresh mint roughly chopped

Course Black Pepper and Kosher Salt

3 Lemons

1 lb dry Linguine (Or any long pasta you prefer)

1 tablespoon of chili flakes

1 sprig fresh basil

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In a large metal bowl put in 1/3 cup EVOO, your scallions, mint, and the juice of 2 lemons (be sure to remove any pits that you might accidentally drop in). Season with salt and pepper. Incorporate well and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Once boiling add a dash of salt to the water and drop your pasta in cooking it until al dente.

While your pasta is cooking heat up a large pan with 1/3 cup EVOO on the stove. Drop in your baby octopus cooking them until they curl up and reduce down in size. Throw in a dash of salt and pepper for seasoning. Once your octopus are almost complete, put in your herbs from the metal bowl. Reduce heat to low, stirring every so often as to prevent anything that might stick to the bottom of the pan.

Your pasta should be finishing up around this point. Drain the pasta from the water, saving roughly a cup of pasta water in case you need to add later. Once drained pour your pasta into your sauce pan with the octopus and herbs. Incorporate thoroughly while adding your chili flakes. Your pasta should be coated nicely with the sauce but not drowning in it. Add more salt and pepper to for a bit more additional seasoning. Dress with a few fresh sprigs of basil for presentation.

The end result should be an array of tastes that combine the hint of lemon juice, mint, and subtle kick of the chili flakes. The octopus should be tender enough to have these ingredients latch on to all the flavors while the greens create a nice balance of texture.

The dish can be served hot or cold. Personally, I like to let the dish sit and incorporate its flavors for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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