Can you believe it's already been a year since we booked our incredible trip to Portugal? I guess it still feels like yesterday because we are constantly talking about something or another to do with the trip.
I don't know if we loved it so much because it was our 1st trip to Europe together, or if it was because of all the friendly locals, or maybe it was the terrific coffee…All I know is that there is a special place in my heart for Portugal and its wonderful culture, that I am sure it will bring us back there over and over again. And even though I've always said that there is so much to see in this world that we couldn't possibly go back to the same place twice, I think this is an exception.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was the amazingly fresh seafood. We could go into town in the early afternoon and pick up fish that was literally fished (is that even a word??) that same morning. Simply thrown on the bbq that evening, finished off with a light drizzle of olive oil…it just doesn't get any better than that.
Now if you were to ask Mony what his favorite part was, he would say Monkfish rice. That was a local dish we had one of the nights at a small restaurant by the shore. It was creamy without being heavy, with just the right amount of seafood without it being too fishy. When he mentioned to me that he wanted to recreate this dish at home, I'll be honest, I had my doubts. Not only would my kitchen end up looking like a tornado had hit it, but the final dish would taint my memories of that beautiful dish. Now this is not a jab at Mony's cooking skills, but the truth of the matter is that we just don't have the same local ingredients, nor the freshness available here as they do there. So no matter how well Mony cooked, it still wouldn't be able to compare to the legendary dish.
Okay now listen carefully because you won't hear this very often:
I was wrong.
He recreated this dish as perfectly as the little old grandma in a Portuguese kitchen. It had the right seasoning, the right texture, the right consistency.
He was right, I was wrong.
ARROZ DE TAMBORIL (Monkfish rice)
600g monkfish fillets, skinned
8 raw prawns, unpeeled
4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 sweet red pepper, finely chopped
2 chorizo sausages, sliced
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1.3 liters hot stock (vegetable or fish)
400g risotto rice
1 tsp Spanish paprika
2 bay leaves
Sea salt and pepper
2 tbsp flat parsley leaves, torn
Cut the fish into healthy, bite-sized pieces.
Heat half the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the fish and prawns on all sides until they change colour. Remove to a plate and season well. Add the remaining oil and cook the onion, garlic, red pepper and chorizo and fry for 10 minutes, stirring well. Add the tomatoes, stock or water and bring to the boil. Add the (unwashed) rice, paprika, bay leaves, salt and pepper, stirring well.
Reduce the heat to very low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until the rice is almost cooked but still wet and soupy (add more stock if not). Add the monkfish, prawns and parsley and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Scatter with parsley and serve in warm pasta bowls, with lemon wedges for squeezing.