As we were traveling along the coast of Portugal, arroz de marisco was on the menu of almost every restaurant. It is much more wet than Spanish paella or Italian risotto, more like a seafood soup with rice in it.
I’ve tried to make it look nice for the photo, but this is what it looked like when we ordered arroz de marisco in Portugal. The pot was put on the table, from which we could serve ourselves.
The delicious flavor comes mostly from the liquor that is released by the clams and mussels, and from the heads and shells of the shrimp. I couldn’t find any crab claws, so left them out. As with all recipes of this type, there are no fixed ingredients and you use what you have at hand. I used pink Argentinian shrimp, which are pink even when they’re raw.
For 2 servings as a main course or 4 servings as part of a larger menu
200 grams (1 cup) rice
12 raw jumbo shrimp, with heads and shells
1/2 kilo (1 lb) mussels, cleaned
1/2 kilo (1 lb) vongole or other clams, which have been allowed to purge themselves in salted water (30 grams of salt per litre of water) for an hour
4 crab claws
1 ripe tomato, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
125 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
fresh cilantro or parsley
chili pepper flakes (preferably piripiri), to taste
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
Peel the shrimp. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shrimp heads and shells, and sauté until they have a nice pink color.
Deglaze with 125 ml white wine, and allow to evaporate by half to get rid of the alcohol. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spatula to get all the flavor into the soup.
When the wine has been reduced by half, add cold water to barely cover the heads and shells. Bring to a boil…
…and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
Sieve the shrimp stock, pressing down on the heads to get as much flavor out as possible.
While the shrimp stock is simmering, put the mussels in a pot with 125 ml (1/2 cup) of water. Cover and cook over high heat until the mussels have opened. Sieve the liquid. A sieve lined with kitchen paper is best to get rid of any sand.
Give the same treatment to the clams.
Combine the shrimp stock with the liquid from the mussels and clams. Add water if needed to end up with 1 litre (4 cups).
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a casserole or Dutch oven. Add a minced onion and stir over medium heat until the onion is golden.
Add 2 minced garlic cloves, and stir for another minute.
Add a peeled, seeded, and diced tomato…
…and stir until the tomato has fallen apart. Season lightly with chilli flakes. This should only add depth of flavor, it should not become spicy.
Add the seafood stock…
…and bring to a boil.
Add the rice…
…and boil the rice until it is cooked, 10-15 minutes. Taste the rice to make sure it is cooked properly, with still some bite to it.
If using crab claws, add them 10 minutes after adding the rice.
Take most of the clams and mussels out of their shells while the rice is cooking, but reserve some for garnish.
Add the raw shrimp, then turn off the heat and allow the shrimp to be cooked in the residual heat for 2 minutes.
Add the clams and mussels to the soup…
…and allow them to warm through in 1 minute.
Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and chilli flakes.
Add fresh cilantro or parsley (which I only remembered to add after taking the photos), and serve.
Ciambotta alla Cilentana is a version of caponata or ratatouille that is prepared near Naples in Italy.