On our final day in Madrid, it was pissing down with rain. We spent about 4 hours walking around the Reina Sofia drooling over Picasso’s Guernica (the size of a giant museum wall) and the large amount of Dali and Miro works. We’re not really artsy-fartsy folks, but that museum made me wet myself with joy. The more we travel, the more I’ve been enjoying museums. But the second my stomach growled in the hallowed halls of the Reina Sofia, I knew it was only a matter of time till I either ripped a painting off the wall and attempted to eat it or I ripped off my husbands head just because he was there and I was annoyed. See, when Amy gets hungry she becomes a bit of a biotch. Ok, that’s an understatement according to anyone who knows me. When Amy gets hungry and can’t find food right away she is basically a total bitch. Even worse, when Amy is wet and hungry she will let you know that she’s pissed and take it out on who ever is closest to her. I know, I know, it’s not fair and it’s mean, but I think of my stomach the way a man thinks of his penis. Just as many men think with theirs, I think with my stomach and when I need it satisfied, it must be satisfied immediately.
As we walked around Madrid on our final afternoon of vacation, starving and cold (I know, poor me, right?), I thought I was going to die if I didn’t get some food in me. It always happens that when you want something you never can find it, but the second you stop looking, there it is. Well, the second I just gave up on finding an open restaurant, there she was – a warm, inviting, cozy and delicious-smelling Galician restaurant – Taberna Maceira. The menu offered an array of food and if I had my choice, I probably would’ve ordered the whole menu. But the thing that caught our eye was the Arroz Marineiro (that’s the Galician spelling for Arroz Marinero) which happened to be a mid-day special. The fact that the menu specifically told you, in so many words, to be patient because this dish takes at least 25 minutes to make, even as hungry as I was, made me smile. We ordered a huge cheese plate with five different types of Galician cheeses and a large jug of wine. Within five minutes I was warm, buzzed and happy. When the steamy hot cauldron of rice, tomato stock and various types of seafood came out, I started to realize that I could be happy sitting in that cozy Galician restaurant with the jug(s) of red wine, my husband and this steamy hot bowl of Arroz Marineiro for the rest of my life… or at least until the rain passed in a few hours.
This dish is similar in flavors to a paella but the main difference is the consistency. It should be like a soupy stew with a bit of the broth left on the top of the rice so you can get a bit of the broth with each bite. Most recipes have a variety of fish included in it. Kind of like the livornese fish stew we made ages ago – it all depends on what’s fresh and what’s available. The dish’s name translates to Marine or Sailor Rice. The small bit of history I could find about this dish told me that it was an easy dish for those that lived on the sea to make with what was readily available. We brought back some razor clams with us from Spain, so we used some of these along with whatever else I could pick up at my local store. Although we weren’t sitting in Madrid when we ate this fabulous healthy meal, it did bring me back to that afternoon.
ARROZ MARINERO – SPANISH MARINE RICE (serves 2 to 3 as mains)
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 to 6 whole, peeled tomatoes (can be from a can), chopped
- 6 cups hot stock (preferably fish stock)
- 1 roasted red pepper, peeled and cut into 2 inch strips
- olive oil
- 2 tablespoons pimenton (paprika)
- pinch of saffron
- a variety of seafood: squid cut in rings, clams still in shell, shrimp with shells removed, mussels, white fish cut in 1-inch chunks
- 2 cups of Valencian rice (Arborio or Bomba rice would work – regular white rice would work only – ONLY – if you can’t find the other 3)
- some chopped parsley
- Optional but not traditional: some peperoncino or a hot pepper to spice it up
What to do:
- In a pot, saute the onions and garlic for a few minutes in some olive oil. After a few minutes, add the clams and mussels along with a bit of hot stock (like 3 or 4 tablespoons) and stir a bit. Put a lid on the pot and give it a few minutes to steam. Don’t let the onions and garlic burn. Lift the lid every 2 minutes to check if the shells have opened. Stir around if necessary and put lid back on. Keep doing this until the shells of the clams and mussels have completely opened. Remove to a bowl and hold until ready to plate.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, roasted red pepper, squid and fish to the sauteed onions and garlic. Cook for a minute then add the pimenton and saffron. Stir for around for a minute then add the rice and stir, allowing rice to absorb all the flavors in the pot.
- Add all the broth and stir. Bring the rice to a boil and then turn heat down a bit and allow the rice to cook in the heavy simmering liquid. You want in between a boil and a simmer. The rice should cook in about 20 minutes, but, like me, keep testing it for doneness every 5 minutes. About five minutes before the rice is finished cooking, add your shrimp.
- When the rice is done, turn heat off, taste for seasoning and ladle rice along with some extra broth and plenty of seafood into a bowl. Top with some of the reserved clams and mussels. Squeeze some lemon juice on to the top along with some chopped parsley. Enjoy!
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