Arroz Caldoso

Wet Rice with Seafood and Saffron

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Racion

    4

Appears in

MoVida

By Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish

Published 2007

  • About

Paella may be the world famous Spanish rice dish but it is not generally cooked in the family kitchen. It is cooked out in the open or ordered in a restaurant. Spanish homes are not large as a rule and domestic kitchens don’t have the burner size to attempt a proper paella. Instead they cook slightly soupier dishes — simply called arroz. I found myself explaining this particular version to the staff one day and was scratching my head trying to find an Australian comparison. ‘It’s fast to make and it’s comfort food’, I explained. ‘It’s a family favourite, the Aussie version would be …’ I was struggling for words. ‘Bangers and mash!’, shouted Andy from the bar. He gets it right everytime.

In this recipe, the flavour of saffron and the addition of prawn shells makes a lovely rich dish that is both fulfilling to eat and rewarding to share. Dig in.

Ingredients

  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) baby clams (vongole)
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) olive oil
  • 4 scampi, halved lengthways and cleaned
  • 4 raw king prawns (shrimp)
  • sea salt flakes
  • 250 g (9 oz) marlin or swordfish, cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) cubes
  • 150 g ( oz) cuttlefish, cleaned and cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) squares
  • 300 g (10½ oz) sofrito
  • 1.5 litres (52 fl oz/6 cups) hot fish stock
  • 250 g (9 oz) Calasparra rice
  • 30 g (1 oz) blanched almonds, roasted
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 small handful flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, roughly chopped

Method

Soak the clams in cold water for 2 hours to remove the grit from inside the shells, changing the water several times. Drain well. Make a shallow cut with a very sharp small knife along the length of each prawn back. Remove and discard the dark vein, leaving the head, shell and tail intact.

Heat 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) of the olive oil in a perol or large heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Add the scampi, shell side down, and cook for about 3 minutes. Turn the scampi over then add the prawns. Season with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt flakes. After 2 minutes, remove the scampi, set aside and turn the prawns over. Season again and cook the prawns for 2 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Add the marlin to the perol and cook each side for about 45 seconds, or until sealed. Lightly season each side as you cook. Once all the sides are sealed, remove and set aside with the other seafood. Add the cuttlefish to the perol and cook for 45–60 seconds, or until sealed. Lightly season and cook the other side. Remove and set aside.

Drain the oil and wipe the perol clean with paper towel. Heat the remaining oil in the perol over medium heat. Add the sofrito and cook for 1 minute, stirring continuously.

Increase the heat to high and add about 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) of hot stock. Allow it to come to the boil for 5 minutes to reduce the liquid and intensify the flavour. Repeat with another 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) of hot stock then add the remaining stock. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Sprinkle the rice over the stock and stir in.

Meanwhile, make a little picada by pounding the almonds and the saffron together using a mortar and pestle until the almonds are quite fine. Add a little of the hot stock from the perol to the mortar and stir in well to release the flavour of the saffron. Add the picada to the simmering perol and mix in well. Once the rice has been simmering for 5 minutes, add the cuttlefish and marlin and stir in. Season to taste with salt, if necessary. After 5 more minutes add the clams and stir through.

Continue simmering for 10 minutes until the rice is just cooked but still with a little resistance to the tooth. Stir in the parsley then add the prawns and scampi. Season to taste. Bring back to simmering point then serve immediately.

Bring the perol to the table and allow people to serve themselves.