My sweetheart and I have decided to try something fun: we are going to make a dish once or twice a month that is traditional to another country. (And when I say “we decided,” I really mean I wanted to do this and he is willing to try some new foods.) For this month he chose Portugal. After doing some research, I found the arroz de Marisco is a very traditional Portuguese dish, and beautiful as well! Here’s something I learned about Portugal that I thought was cool: They have the oldest bookstore in the world, which opened in 1732. That’s quite a history!
My first stop was one of the local fish mongers. I was able to get most of the seafood in this one stop. They didn’t have shrimp with heads on, which I wanted especially for the visual appeal, so I got headless and moved on. I ended up trying the other local fish store in town and they didn’t have them either. They did, however, suggest soft shell crab, so I got two to put on the top.
Just as I started to heat up the stock and other things, I realized I didn’t have saffron! EEK! EMERGENCY! I had to run to the store. I don’t know where my other saffron went, but I know I have some now. Crisis averted!
I bought the arborio rice in the bulk section, and when I poured it out of the bag into the cup, I made a mess. I was grateful for my handheld vacuum and got it all off the kitchen floor in a jiffy.
I sauteed the onions and added the garlic and bay leaf…
And then added the rice. I cooked that for several minutes before adding the white wine and saffron.
I absolutely love saffron. It’s so distinctive and flavorful, and has such a beautiful color!
My dish is already taking on amazing smells!
While that’s cooking down, I cut the monk fish into four even(ish) portions.
The squid was next. I did cut some of the larger whole squid in half, and then I cut the tubes into rings.
By now my rice has soaked up the white wine. So pretty! It’s time to start adding the broth mixture.
After the broth mixture had been added in (slowly, cup-by-cup), the remaining broth that wasn’t yet soaked up by rice was a nice soupy bathy for the little clams. In you go!
After the first clam opened, I added all the other seafood. It was crowded in this pan! I need a paella pan, apparently!
Time to fix up the soft-shell crab. I threw some flour down and added Slap Ya Mama seasoning. I saw this seasoning on an episode of Queer Eye and had to try it out. Totally worth it. I also got the Punch Daddy seasoning. 🙂
Here they are! I’ve never eaten soft-shell crab, much less cooked it, so I Googled “how to eat soft-shell crab.” After I saw the first five seconds of a video, I then Googled, “how to clean soft-shell crab.” It looked pretty easy!
It turns out, my crabs were already cleaned out except for the faces. THE FACES, YOU GUYS. I had to cut them off. I tried not to shudder as I did it. I threw away the evidence quickly and went along with my business.
I dredged them in a flour bath, making sure to get both sides coated as well as possible.
This little guy was ready!
Into the pan it went! I used butter instead of oil. I don’t know if that’s taboo, I just know I love butter.
Look at how pretty that is!
The arroz de marisco was ready! Now to put it in bowls and plant my soft-shell crab on the top…
I’m here to tell you, this was a VERY tasty meal. I will do without the parsley next time, but it adds a visual appeal… just not a tasty appeal. The soft-shell crab was delicious, and the rice was oh, so good! I think I’ll put the squid in at the last moment next time, to keep it super tender, but it was fine.
This was really good. I would make it again, but it turns out my sweetheart doesn’t like soft-shell crab, clams, or squid. Oops! I will run the recipes by him from now on, so we can BOTH enjoy the meal! That said, he really did like the rest of it. I mean, it’s hard to go wrong with saffron and rice.
A big thank you to the country of Portugal!