Rice Pilaf with Pitachios, Raisin and Spanish Hot Sauce Drizzle
In my quest for preparing for our Spanish adventure I am cooking with and learning about rice. Rice in Spain is a first course dish but often so full of ingredients that it may as well be main course. How much food can one eat? Rice even grows in Spain (who knew?) in the Mediterranean regions of Catalonia, Valencia and Murcia, where Spanish rice is protected by Denominacion de Origen (denomination of origin, as in fine wines): Arroz del Delta del Ebro, Arroz de Valencia and Calasparra. (see Claudia Roden: the Food of Spain). Medium grain rice is the type used in most Spanish recipes and short grain is used in dessert rice dishes and to stuff vegetables. Long grain is used for new style Spanish dishes and never for the traditional paella. Long grain rice is grown in Andalusia and Extremadura.
There is also the Bomba rice variety, apparently the preferred variety for chefs and Spanish gourmands. it has very small grains that can absorb three times their volume in liquids without becoming mushy. It is said to be a rice for paella “novices” as it is forgiving, or more so than other rice varieties. Well, I will have to buy some Bomba rice as soon as I get to Spain. Apparently in Spain, the type of rice you use to make your paella is an indication of your level of expertise in cooking the dish. Arroz de Valencia shows you are an expert and If you get anything out of this post it should be NOT to use long grain rice for paella. It is considered almost sacrilegious.
I am not presenting this as a Spanish rice recipe, as I said, I am just starting to learn about how they use rice in Spain. I used Indian basmati long grain rice because this is what I had on hand, as well as Indian and North African spices (cumin, fennel and coriander seeds). Basmati yields a fluffy, drier rice and works well for this pilaf. You can serve this as a side dish with other dinner foods, alongside vegetables as a whole meal or on its own, delicious by itself. A drizzle of the authentic Spanish hot sauce from Claudia Roden’s The Foods of Spain goes nicely with it and is easy to make.
1 cup long grain rice
2 cups water or stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 shallot, sliced into thin strips
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground (or whole) fennel seeds
1 cup pistachios, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
Zest from one orange, some of it grated, with a few longer strands for garnish.
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
Spanish red hot sauce (recipe below)
Cook the rice as suggested below or follow your rice package directions for 1 cup rice.
To cook the rice: rinse rice in cold water until the water runs clear.
Place in a pot with 2 cups cold water and the salt and bring to a boil.
Lower heat to lowest and cook, covered, until the rice is done and all the water is absorbed.
Heat oil in a large skillet.
Add onion and cook until softened, without browning it.
Add shallot and garlic and cook for a minute, being careful not to burn the garlic.
Add spices and stir to blend.
Add the pistachios and raisins and cook for a minute or so, stirring. Save a little of the chopped pistachios for garnish.
Begin adding the rice, a little at a time, breaking it down and mixing with the rest of the ingredients in the pan.
Add the grated orange zest and half the parsley as you add the remaining rice.
If necessary you can ddd a tablespoon or so of stock, water or oil to moisten the dish further.
When rice is combined well with all the ingredients in the pan remove from heat, add remaining parsley and mix.
You can spoon a couple of tablespoons of the hot sauce to the rice and mix gently.
Spoon into serving plates and serve warm or at room temperature with the hot sauce.
Spanish Red Hot Sauce: (Claudia Roden’s)
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (or less)
2 teaspoon sweet Spanish paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin
6 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Combine all ingredients in a glass jar, cover with lid and shake vigorously to blend.