Fish and Rice

Há um mês, fiz um arroz de pampo, em casa duma amiga que (temporariamente) alojava uma jovem japonesa que estava na nossa terra a aperfeiçoar a língua que por cá se fala.

No final, depois de tudo comido, ela pediu-me a receita pois queria fazer o mesmo para a mãe, uma vez regressada ao Japão. Acho que se tratou dum belo elogio ao prato que mais gosto de cozinhar e aqui fica a receita tal como lhe enviei:


A recipe is always more than a list of ingredients and techniques. Especially when it is part of one's history like this is to me, but I'll try to describe and you'll try to achieve it, keeping in mind that the stock is the most important part of this recipe. Or is it the rice? Maybe the fish? The olive oil?

To start, it is necessary to make a good broth, with vegetables , fish, spices etc as this will be the main flavoring component. There is also the need to use a good olive oil, which you will have difficulty in finding, but it can be done with proper butter also, even though the end result will be different. No other fat will work. So, use olive oil if possible and if not, use butter.

To prepare the stock:
  • fish (1 whole, at least 1Kg)
  • 1 leek
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 carrot
  • 3 cardamom
  • 6 (grains)black pepper
  • 1 laurel leaf
  • 3 slices of fresh ginger
  • lemon zest
  • salt
  • water

The fish may be any kind of fresh white and not fatty fish, like sea bass, hake, snapper or pampano as the one in the photo(don't use mackerel or sardines). It is better to buy the whole fish, as the head and all the bones are required for the stock. The easiest way is to buy a fish weighting between one and two kilos (to make rice for 2 persons a 1 Kg fish is more than enough). If the fish is not to big it may be cooked whole, otherwise there is the need to cut it in pieces.

Start adding salt (if possible coarse salt) to the fish. Then pell the veggies, and cut them in pieces (not too small ). Sweat them in a hot pan with olive oil, and take care not to let them turn brown, add the spices (you can use all, some or none, but it will make some difference, one or two stripes of lemon zest (saving the rest of the lemon for later) and a piece of fresh ginger. Add 1 Lt of water, salt and wait for the water to start boiling.

Let it boil for 10 minutes before adding the fish, and after that, wait for the water to boil again. When that happens, turn off the fire, cover the pan and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the fish from the water (it will be almost completely cooked) and clean it carefully, returning all the bones and skin to the stock, and keeping all the flesh to add later to the rice).
Let the stock (with the vegetables, spices and fish bones) simmer for 30 more minutes, and after that, sieve it, to use the liquid in the rice preparation.

The rice:
  • stock
  • 4 tablespoons of good olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 leak
  • 1 medium onion
  • rice (I use Carolino rice Bom Sucesso brand )
  • fresh coriander
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • fish

To make the rice, you will have to find a rice that absorbs a lot of water - the thai or basmati rices are not good for this, but risotto rice (carnaroli) or even paella rice can be used.

The photo shows the rice I use, but I don't think it will be available in Japan

The amount liquid will be 2,5 times the amount of rice, and in the end there should still be liquid, and the grains cooked, soft but not sticking...

To start cooking the rice, get a pan in the fire, add the olive oil, the garlic / leek /onion finely minced , let it start to fry and add the rice (100g for each person). Mix the rice so that it is covered with a layer of olive oil, and after that add the stock (for 2 persons use 200g of rice and 0,5Lt of hot stock).
Cook the rice covered for 10 minutes after the liquid starts to boil, and when the 10 minutes pass, add the fish, the lemon juice, some more salt if required, and two handfuls of fresh coriander leaves. Cover and let it cook for more 2 minutes.
To finalize I add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, but that's not mandatory...
Eat immediately as it will lose quality with time. Don't reheat it later, eat everything and enjoy.

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