Friday, August 14, 2009

Daring to Cook: Spanish Rice with Squid

I took the dare! Now, here's the truth. I had SO much fun! This was my first time cooking with the DARING KITCHEN folks-- a group of bloggers, started by Lisa and Ivonne in 2006 and still going, growing and cooking! Once a month a host chooses a recipe for the challenge and this month's host is Olga from Las Cosas de Olga and Olga's Recipes. The recipe is from Jose Andres and his original recipe uses Cuttlefish, but no luck finding that - so mine is SQUID with RICE.

One of the many reasons I had a great time with this challenge is because Jose Andres is one of the most important Spanish Chefs of today and is one of my favorites, along with the chef he trained under at El Bulli - Ferran Adria. I met Ferran at a book signing once in LA, and spoke my broken Spanish to him, and he politely nodded- (probably thinking - I hope she cooks better than she speaks.) This recipe is from the television show of Jose Andres, MADE IN SPAIN and in a video he graciously helps by showing the preparations. Jose has several restaurants, and I've been lucky enough to eat in the Los Angeles one called, Bazaar; unbelievably and oddly fabulous!

I created my meal of Rice, Squid, Mushrooms and Artichokes for a large gathering at my house, so served it family style.
There was not one piece of rice left on that platter. I highly recommend trying this recipe - don't be shy with the steps - they build the complex flavors and are so worth it. The sofregit (stewed tomatoes, onions, artichokes and mushrooms, etc..) as made in the recipe is more than enough which is wonderful so you can freeze for later and/or use as a base for other soups, egg dishes, meat sauces, bruschetta and your imagination.

Another aspect to this recipe is the Allioli (not Aioli which is a delicious garlicy mayonaise made with egg). The Catalan mixture (classically done in a pestal & mortar) is composed of simply fresh garlic, salt, a touch of lemon juice and slow drizzles of good olive oil. (I used an organic award winning Olive Oil from the beautiful family run Agriturismo Fiorano in Le Marche, Italy) This was a labor of love and again, well worth it. Not only does this creamy fragrant dollop make the Rice and Squid talk to you, it also can be used in other dishes (ie. the Ribbon Squash and Olives that I sauteed and added the Allioli as an earthy flavor booster.)

Would I make this again? Oh, AND again. When you have people, with their mouths still full, asking you to please cook more of this - you know you have a double dare!

Check out the other DARING COOKS for their versions on this recipe.

Rice and Cuttlefish:

* 4 Artichokes (you can use jarred or freezed if fresh are not available)
* 12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello)
* 1 or 2 Bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)
* 1 glass of white wine
* 2 Cuttlefish (you can use freezed cuttlefish or squid if you don’t find it fresh)
* “Sofregit” (see recipe below)
* 300 gr (2 cups) Short grain rice (Spanish types Calasparra or Montsant are preferred, but you can choose any other short grain. This kind of rice absorbs flavor very well) – about 75 gr per person ( ½ cup per person) Please read this for more info on suitable rices.
* Water or Fish Stock (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)
* Saffron threads (if you can’t find it or afford to buy it, you can substitute it for turmeric or yellow coloring powder)
* Allioli (olive oil and garlic sauce, similar to mayonnaise sauce) - optional

1. Cut the cuttlefish in little strips.
2. Add 1 or 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and put the cuttlefish in the pan.
3. If you use fresh artichokes, clean them as shown in the video in tip #7. Cut artichokes in eights.
4. Clean the mushrooms and cut them in fourths.
5. Add a bay leaf to the cuttlefish and add also the artichokes and the mushrooms.
6. Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes.
7. Put a touch of white wine so all the solids in the bottom of the get mixed, getting a more flavorful dish.
8. Add a couple or three tablespoons of sofregit and mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with the sofregit.
9. Add all the liquid and bring it to boil.
10. Add all the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in heavy heat.
11. Add some saffron thread to enrich the dish with its flavor and color. Stir a little bit so the rice and the other ingredients get the entire flavor. If you’re using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only 1/4 teaspoon.
12. Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”)
13. Put the pan away from heat and let the rice stand a couple of minutes.
Sofregit (a well cooked and fragrant sauce made of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and onions, and may at times
different vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms)-

Cooking time: aprox. 1 hour

* 2 tablespoons of olive oil
* 5 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped
* 2 small onions, chopped
* 1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
* 4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped
* 1 cup of button or Portobello mushrooms, chopped (optional)
* 1 Bay leaf
* Salt
* Touch of ground cumin
* Touch of dried oregano


1. Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.
2. Taste and salt if necessary (maybe it’s not!)

Allioli is the optional part of the recipe. You must choose one of the two recipes given, even though I highly recommend you to try traditional one. Allioli is served together with the rice and it gives a very nice taste

Allioli (Traditional recipe)
Cooking time: 20 min aprox.

* 4 garlic cloves, peeled
* Pinch of salt
* Fresh lemon juice (some drops)
* Extra-virgin olive oil (Spanish preferred but not essential)


1. Place the garlic in a mortar along with the salt.
2. Using a pestle, smash the garlic cloves to a smooth paste. (The salt stops the garlic from slipping at the bottom of the mortar as you pound it down.)
3. Add the lemon juice to the garlic.
4. Drop by drop; pour the olive oil into the mortar slowly as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle.
5. Keep turning your pestle in a slow, continuous circular motion in the mortar. The drip needs to be slow and steady. Make sure the paste soaks up the olive oil as you go.
6. Keep adding the oil, drop by drop, until you have the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. If your allioli gets too dense, add water to thin it out. This takes time—around 20 minutes of slow motion around the mortar—to create a dense, rich sauce.

José's tips for traditional recipe: It's hard to think that, when you start crushing the garlic, it will ever turn into something as dense and smooth as allioli. But don't give up. It's worth the extra time and effort to see the oil and garlic come together before your eyes. Just make sure you're adding the olive oil slowly, drop by drop. Keep moving the pestle around the mortar in a circular motion and keep dreaming of the thick, creamy sauce at the end of it all.


Audax said...

Wonderful that you meet him. Lovely pixs and yes this is keeper and especially the allioli, Bravo on your effort and kudos to you. Cheers from Audax in Australia

Simones Kitchen said...

Congratulations on your first daring cooks challenge! It looks like you did great job as the dish looks gorgeous!