This is one of those feel good Sunday dishes. All over Spain, you can find variations of this. Truly one of the most comforting and homey dishes, it is also a main feature in many menus here, from small family run restaurants to Michelin starred dining rooms.
Rice is taken very seriously in Spain, with a plethora of incarnations, from Paella to Rice Pudding, Salads to Stews, it is almost national pride. I have called this “Six Hand” because it was a collaboration between three people, our amazing hostess, Dolors, long time friend and extraordinary woman, my friend Fer, who hails from Zaragoza and is a killer in the kitchen, and myself. Each one of us had a part in making this dish, and it was such a great experience, because that is what Sundays are all about. Family, Friends, Food and Fun. Oh, and spending an afternoon in our hostesses breathtaking Ramblas loft was a plus, too.
The key to arroz caldoso is in the stock. This is an inexpensive way to make a dish for a large family, and because you are showcasing the stock, it has to be quite amazing. It is the canvas to the rest of the ingredients, and you can let your imagination go wild. We decided on monkfish, squid, shrimp and mussels. Then, the finishing touch, is obviously the rice. And bomba rice is the one that you need to splurge on, since I was informed that if you use regular short grain rice, there is a chemical reaction that occurs when paired with shellfish stock. Apparently, the grain splits, and lets out too much of its starch, making this more of a cream than a stew.
It was an amazing lunch, and all of us, even the kids (all 10 and under) repeated three times. Now that speaks for itself!
So here’s what you’re going to need:
3 liters good quality shellfish stock, preferably homemade (recipe below)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 roma tomatoes, finely diced
1 nyora pepper, soaked and peeled
2 tsp spicy Pimenton powder (or hot smoked paprika)
400 g monkfish, cubed
1 large squid, cut in bite sized pieces
a few pinches of good quality saffron threads
400 g Bomba rice
400 g shrimp, peeled and deveined
200 g mussels, steamed and shelled
Fresh parsley, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sauté until sauce has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the nyora pepper, stir until mixed, and sauté another 5 minutes. Salt and pepper the squid and monkfish, and add to the tomatoes along with the pimenton and saffron. Cook for about 15 minutes or until tender.
Add your shellfish stock to the fish and squid, add the rice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer, about 10 minutes. In the last few minutes of cooking, add the shrimp, mussels, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
For the stock:
5 liters of water
shrimp shells and heads from the shrimp you will be using in your stew
monkfish heads and bones (ask your fish monger to give these to you when you buy the monkfish)
fennel, stalks and fronds
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 tomatoes chopped
1 bay leaf
some saffron, nyora peppers, pimenton and salt and pepper to taste
Add all the ingredients and boil for about 40 minutes. Spoon the foam off the top as it cooks. When done, leave on the stove and cover, and let it sit, so the flavors will meld, about 20 minutes. Strain and reserve.
From my kitchen to yours,