Thursday, June 20, 2013
This is one of my favorite dishes from the State of Veracruz that originated in the port of Alvarado. This is a fisherman's dish that as legend has it was prepared by a cook who just "tossed or threw together" the rice with the catch of the day, hence the name in Spanish "a la tumbada." Many will take a quick look and think that this is similar to a paella, but it is not. This dish is great and has some similarity to a paella but this is much more like a soup.
Important -- this is my version! What I always tell my guests is that Mexican cuisine is a living cuisine - it moves over time - which is what makes it so great. Every house has its own mole, their own secret recipe, their own way to make that special dish handed down over the generations.
For those of you who want to pull down a PDF version to print, you can find it here.
Serves 6 to 8
2 cups of long grain rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
10 cups of hot fish broth or water
½ cup white onion chopped
3 garlic cloves minced
2 cups tomatoes chopped
16 u/8 shrimp peeled and de-veined with tail on
½ cup cooked octopus or squid rings
4 blue crab cleaned and cut in half
1 cup mussels or small clams (whatever you like best or can find freshest)
½ cup peas
½ cup carrot, peeled and cut pea-size
¼ cup chopped cilantro
3 or 4 Serrano Chiles chopped
4 limes cut in wedges
Sea salt to taste (about 2 tablespoons)
We will need a large sauté or paella pan about 25 inches in diameter and 4 - 5 inches deep. You will need a lid to cover the pan.
Place the pan on medium heat and add the olive oil. Place the rice and fry for 2 to 3 minutes until the grains are translucid on the outside and white on the inside. Don’t mix the rice. Gently fold the rice so it won’t break and turn mushy after cooking.
Add chopped onion and cook for another minute, then add minced garlic cook for another 30 seconds. Add chopped tomatoes and cook for another minute. Salt freely the rice tomato, onion and garlic mixture.
Add 4 cups of the hot fish broth or water. Allow to come to a boil. Taste the broth and see if it needs more salt. It should taste a little salty since you will be adding seafood and vegetables. After you are satisfied that it is salted correctly, put on low heat and cover for 10 minutes.
Add another 2 cups of hot fish broth. Nestle the blue crab into the rice and cover for 5 minutes. The broth should always be ¼ inch above the level of the rice. Add up to two cups of broth to do so. It is not necessary for the broth to cover the sea food. Taste the broth. It should be a little salty. Also taste the rice as it should be almost cooked.
Add the rest of the seafood, carrots, and peas. Cover the pan for 5 minutes after the broth comes to a boil again. You may need to add more broth do so. Again, making sure the broth is ¼ inch above the rice. Important: This is a soupy style of dish. It should have liquid as you serve the dish in a bowl. This is not like paella which is much drier.
When the rice is cooked but still al dente, serve in a bowl and sprinkle with cilantro and Serrano chile. Give everyone a wedge of lime to squeeze over the dish.
Friday, March 22, 2013
On occasion we will leave the comfortable confines at La Villa Bonita and cook in different environments or different parts of Mexico to add to my repertior and give guests a new and different experience. This year we had cooking sessions on the island of Cozumel. While big tourism has changed the cuisine offered in hotels, there is a local cuisine that is still delicious and good. It needs to be elevated and learned. I was amazed at the amount of Italian cuisine restaurants in both Cozumel and Playa del Carmen. Such food is great but there is a wonderful local cuisine that is not being appreciated. When we travel, we always try to elevate the local cuisine so that it is visible and accessible.
When we come back to Tepoztlán we integrate these elements into our repertoire for our culinary packages. We had a great time with our guests in Cozumel, getting to know or fish providers and the wonderful variety of seafood available in the region and discovering these great local dishes. This particular dish, sopa de lima, is very popular in the southeast section of Mexico. It calls for Limas which are a specific type of lime. We have them in Tepoztlán in our back yard and they are a different type of lime. If you do not have them substitute Key Limes and they will work fine but the Lima has a distinct flavor.
Sopa de lima (Lima Soup) 6 servings1 chicken breast with skin and bone 10 oz. chicken feet or wings or backs
2 garlic cloves, pealed
½ medium white onion
1 cilantro sprig
1 epazote sprig (if possible)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 quarts or 12 cups of water
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ cup red onion, finely chopped
½ cup green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cups tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
6 Limas or Key Limes or 3 Persian limes, thinly sliced
4 corn tortillas cut into strips and dried for 2 to 3 hours or overnight
1 cup of canola oil
1 avocado (optional)
My preferred method of making broth is with a pressure cooker but if you don’t have one you may use a regular stock pot. Place chicken into the pressure cooker or the stock pot and add garlic cloves, the clove inserted into the onion (so they are not floating around in the pot), cilantro, epazote, dried oregano, water and salt. Place pot over a high heat and allow for broth to come to a simmer. Reduce the heat. Take off the foam that will form with a spoon and repeat this procedure until the broth doesn’t produce any more foam. If you are using the pressure cooker place the top of the pressure cooker and cook for another 45 minutes on medium high. If you are using a regular stock pot, cook for 1hr and 30 minutes on medium high. When chicken broth is ready take the chicken breast out. Allow it to cool enough to shred.
In your soup pot place the olive oil and red onion and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes or until transparent. Then add the green pepper and tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth with slices of lime. Save a few fresh slices for serving. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 to 10 minutes and take the lime slices out.
In a sauté pan add the canola oil on high heat. When it is hot add the corn strips and then fry until golden. Take out and place on paper towels to drain.
In a soup bowl place the shredded chicken, tortilla strips and a slice of avocado and a fresh slice of lime. Ladle some of the chicken broth and enjoy. If you would like to print out this recipes click here for the PDF version.