Prawn Rice/Arroz de Camarão
The archetypal Portuguese wet rice, flavoured by a rich prawn stock is a must in any coastal restaurant. The capacity for producing a perfect arroz de camarão can make or break a chef’s reputation.
As with most prawn and shrimp dishes, the secret is to extract as much flavour as possible from the shells and heads. To cook with shelled shrimp meat is no more than a allusive reference to the unique taste of this remarkable seafood. Frozen at sea prawns are the most practical way of guaranteeing good results as sourcing fresh prawns is usually rather tricky. This recipe achieves its richness and flavour through the preparation of a stock used to cook the rice. The same stock can be used as a basis for a prawn velouté soup (creme de camarão).
400gr of medium prawns (raw, shells and heads on)
1 cup of long grain rice
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup of dry white wine
1 tsp tomato paste
Dried chilli flakes (optional)
3 tbsp chopped coriander
1. Shel and devein the prawns. Rinse thoroughly with cold water and salt the prawn meat.
2. In a large pot, fry the shells in hot butter for 3 or 4 minutes then add the wine and reduce. Add 2 cups of water, salt and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. In the meantime gently fry the onions in the olive oil until translucent, add the garlic, chilli flakes if using and a couple of minutes later the tomato paste.
4. Blend the shell mixture with a hand blender or food processor and strain, pressing on the shells to release all juices. You should get a rich flavourful orange liquid.
5. Add the stock to the onions, blend and bring to a boil. Add water to make 3 cups of liquid.
6. Add the rice and cook at medium heat sitting occasionally, add more stock or water if necessary. Just before the rice is cooked and you achieve a rich creamy consistence add the prawns and cook for another minute. Check seasoning, add the coriander, stir gently and serve immediately.