Recipes

Chefs Sunday: Rice with Shell Fish, the Fruit of the Peruvian Sea

Arroz con Maricsos (Rice with Shellfish), Café de La Paz, Cuzco

When you first see it, you cannot see its end. It is so majestic and rich in every sense, but especially in the diversity of living beings that it gathers in itself.

All countries privileged to have a coasts know how incredible it is to have this marvel that has fed us for millennia. Thanks to the great variety of fish and shell fish found within it a great and diverse gastronomy has developed. Magical flavors that result from putting sea food in a pot. The aromas and the textures of the sauces that flow and take form as they cook is inexplicable.

Cooks from all over the world are inspired by the great variety of marine species, each with a different flavor, scent, and texture.  They manage to create dishes inundated with living colors and fabulous design.

Along the entire Peruvian coast thousands of fishermen rise at 4 am to receive tons of fish, shell fish, to provide for all the countries restaurants and Peruvian families who day to day obtain new dishes from the fruit of the sea and their own creativity.

Peru´s Fishermen
Peru´s Fishermen

From the most humble home to the most sophisticated kitchen of a five fork restaurant an emblematic dish that serves as an example is the spectacular Peruvian classic, arroz con marsicos, rice with shell fish. It is a mixture of the finest shell fish from the Peruvian coast, the great variety of northern Peruvian hot peppers (ajies), and the fabulous rice from Piura in the country’s far north.

The dish obtains a harmony of intense flavors. A reddish color from the spicy and flavorful peppers and Peruvian condiments combined with the powerful orange of shell fish decorate the dish to perfection and create a pleasing contrast. Furthermore the rice cooked to the right point joins with the thick sauce to give a final consistency of pleasure to go straight to the table for enjoyment.

This great combination of ingredients come together with the single end of leaving speechless with joy each person who sits to taste it along with, perhaps, a glass of wine or the classic soda that Peruvians love, our symbolic Inca Kola.

The Immensity of Perú's Life-giving Sea
The Immensity of Perú’s Life-giving Sea

Rice with Shell Fish

Ingredients:

(6 servings)

1 dozen squid

18 prawns

18 purple sea scallops in the shell (argopecten purpuratus)

12 dozen clams (machas Mesodesma donacium)

2 medium red peppers cut in strips

4 tablespoons of oil

½ cup of cooked peas

2 medium onions finely diced

250 ml yellow ají paste

100 ml ground garlic

150 ml red ají paste

100 ml ají mirasol paste (optional)

150 ml rocoto paste (peeled and veined so it loses its heat)

2 peeled tomatoes cut in pieces

¼ bundle of cilantro diced

4 cups rice

250 ml white wine

4 ½ cups water

3 limes

2 tablespoons of butter

salt

pepper

fish spine, cleaned and cut in three parts

small clams (vongoles)

Fresh Crab for Sale in Cuzco
Fresh Crab for Sale in Cuzco

Preparation:

Clean all the shell fish and reserve them in refrigeration.  Prepare and reserve the  parts of the prawns you remove.

Heat oil in a medium pot and fry the onion until it is golden.  Add the garlic, the peppers, the tomato, the salt and pepper. Stir well and let cook for a few minutes stirring constantly.  Then add the white wine and let the alcohol evaporate.  Next add the fish spine, the small clams, and the remainders of the  prawns. Leave them to cook for ten minutes continuing to stir.

Add the 4 ½ cups of water and some stems of cilantro.  Let the mixture cook for thirty minutes over a medium flame.  When done we strain the mixture, pressing it well to extract juice.

We cook the rice in this liquid and then mix it with the rice the peas and the diced cilantro.

We oil in a frypan until the oil begins to let off fragrance. Meanwhile we season the shell fish with salt, pepper, and lime.  We add the shell fish to the hot frypan and let it cook for a few seconds without stirring them until they form a golden base.  Then we add butter and we toss them on a high flame.  We set them aside.  (Remember that the shell fishneed only slight cooking so this process must be very quick.)

We then serve the shell fish on the rice and serve.

Fresh Prawns Waiting to Be Bought and Cooked
Fresh Prawns Waiting to Be Bought and Cooked
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