Friday, 14 August 2009

Daring cooks - A Spanish rice recipe

This month's Daring Cook challenge was hosted by Olga from Las Cosas de Olga and Olga’s Recipes this month and she picked a Spanish recipe, Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes by José Andrés.

She says he is one of the most important Spanish Chefs at the moment. He trained under well-known Ferran Adria at his three Michelin star restaurant El Bulli. José Andrés lives now in Washington DC and he owns several restaurants in Washington DC area (El Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel…). The recipe is from his US TV show Made in Spain.

Now I didn't end up making it quite as suggested as i could not get the cuttlefish but I stayed as true to it as I could apart from that.

I had a go at the recipe quite early on after the challenge went up as I happen to have fresh artichokes that needed eating.. I NEVER have them, even though I love them. Literally this is the first time in years and I was given some by someone at the allotment. I have young plants on my plot and they seem to grow very well but I will not get any flowers this year. I don't think I've ever seen them in the shops. One problem I had was I've never cut one up before, I normally cook them whole then eat the flesh off the leaves with butter. I think I left too much leaf attached next time I'll probably just do the disk bit from the base and cut everything else off but the video supplied seemed to show a bit more left than that.

Anyway I couldn't get anything like cuttlefish or squid, in fact the person in front of me asked about squid and was told they are out of season here. Our fishmonger only sells fresh fish, no frozen and being in the middle of England we are a little limited. I ended up with prawns, a few lagustine, scallops and some other fish who's name I had totally forgotten by the time I got home!

To start the recipe you make a slowly cooked tomato and veg sauce called Sofregit which is then used to flavour the dish once the rice and fish is cooking. I liked the Sofregit quite a lot and it is a good base for other dishes I would guess. For rice I used risotto rice as that was the closest I had on hand.

As well as the main rice dish we made some Allioli on the side. Alloli is basically garlic combined with oil to make a very strongly flavoured paste.

The Allioli was very interesting to make, I'd have liked to know approximately how much oil to add as having never made it before I really didn't know when to stop. We love garlic and it was certainly strong! Mine came out a slightly grey white, other peoples came out some very different colours depending on the olive oil used and so forth. In fact Audax got a very dark green version see his blog for a chemistry lesson on why I found it fasinating.

The dish was quite nice though I think I may have been to light on the seasoning as it was blander than I expected, next time I will be heavier handed with thsoe things it says a touch of and also the packets of saffron we get here aree tiny and from the colour of other people's dishes I'm guessing they used more than I did. The allioli certainly added to it very well.


Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes
Recipe with additions from Olga

Cooking time: 45 minutes

  • 1 Chopping Board
  • 1 knife
  • 1 medium saucepan
  • 1 Paella pan (30 cm/11” is enough for 4 people. If not available, you may use a simple pan that size)
  • 1 Saucepan

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 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 (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.

Olga’s Tips:
(1) In Spain, rice is not stired as often as it is when cooking Italian risotto. You must stir it once or twice maximum. This tip is valid for all Spanish rice dishes like paella, arròs negre, arròs a banda…
(2) When cooking the alternative style you can change the cuttlefish or squid for diced potato.
(3) If you can’t find cuttlefish or squid, or you’re not able to eat them because of allergies, you can try to substitute them for chicken or vegetables at your choice.
(4) Sofregit can be done in advance. You can keep it in the fridge or even freeze it.
(5) For more information on how to clean and remove the heart of artichokes, please watch this video
(6) To watch how Jose Andres cooks this dish click here.
(7) For more information on how to clean and remove the heart of artichokes, please watch this video
(8) To tone down the taste when you do it by hand in a mortar, then add an egg yolk. If you want to tone it down in the alternative way use milk or soy milk. Anyway, the best alternative way is the original oil and garlic alone.
(9) Allioli must be consumed during the preparation day and preserved in the fridge before using it.
(10) For help on conversion on metric to imperial, visit this page.


  1. Hmm I wonder what made your allioli white....
    Great job with the challenge!

  2. Your dish looks great! Love the look of those langustines and your allioli! Cheers :)

  3. I like the allioli white...I think it adds to beauty of your final presentation. Gorgeous lagoustines, and I love how you kept them whole for presentation! Not to mention, the scallops and yummy 'mystery' fish tucked in there. As always, Esther, fantastic job! I skipped it this month, but made ribs! lol

  4. Thank you for the link to my blog. Wonderful effort and result love that photo. In the middle of England it is always best to use fresh and it sounds delicious I'm sure you will tweak it to your taste and it will be superb. Cheers from Audax. Love the langustines (we call them prawns though I'm sure they are a different species of seafood). Bravo on the white allioli. Gorgeous work

  5. Yum! Your dish looks amazing =D. I love the idea for cooking artichokes, it sounds delicious! Wonderful job with this challenge!

  6. Wonderful job - those langustines looks delicious!