Arroz a la Alexandra
“Arroz” (rice) a la Valenciana and “Arroz” a la Paella are well-known traditional Spanish dishes. My grandmother used to make them when I was a child. I learned the basic techniques from her.
The first time I made Paella, I dispensed with the tomato paste, the olives and the capers. I also improvised by cooking the rice in mussell stock. Boy, it was a big hit! A totally Filipinized Spanish dish. After that, I tried improvising some more. I substituted main ingredients and used different kinds of stock for cooking the rice. When my daughters were younger, I usually prepared Paella with chicken and pork sausages; no seafood. Now that they are old enough to appreciate different tastes and textures, I became bolder with my experiments. “Arroz a la Alexandra” (I named it after my younger daughter who initially did not want to touch it but who couldn’t get enough after trying the crab) is the result of my lastest experiment.
In this recipe, I used premature chicken eggs. These eggs have not yet formed shells and are basically just yolks. They are sold together with the livers and gizzards, and traditionally used in rice porridge.
1/2 kilo of baby crabs
1/2 kilo of clams (pre-soaked to expel sand)
1/4 kilo of stewing chicken breast (bone in)
1/4 kilo of fish fillet, cut into 2″ x 2″ inch cubes
2-3 pcs. of chicken liver, cut into 1-1/2″ x 1-1/2 inch cubes
8-10 pcs. of premature chicken eggs
1 pc. of Spanish sausage (chorizo de Bilbao), minced
1 carrot, diced
3/4 c. of sweet peas
2 bell peppers
1 celery stalks, diced
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
2 c. of uncooked rice (1-1/2 c. of long grain rice + 1/2 c. of glutinous rice)
1/2 c. of olive oil
3 tbsp. of cooking oil
1-1/2 tbsp. of minced garlic
2 whole cloves of garlic
1 whole onion, peeled
2 onions, diced
1 piece of ginger (thumb-sized; cut into matchsticks)
1/2 c. of tomato paste
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
Cooking procedure :
Place chicken in a saucepan. Cover with cold water. Add garlic cloves (pierced several times with a pointed knife), whole onion. 4 peppercorns, 1 bay leaf and salt. Boil over high heat. Remove scum as it rises. Simmer for 1 to 1/2 hours, adding water from time to time (you will have to have 2 cups of broth by the time the chicken is done). Strain the broth. Chop chicken meat into 1-1/2″ x 1-1/2 inch cubes.
Meanwhile, rub the fish fillet and chicken livers with salt and ground pepper. Set aside.
In another saucepan, saute ginger and 1/2 tbsp. of minced garlic. Sit for 30 seconds. Add 1 diced onion. When onion is transparent, add 2 c. of water. Add salt and 4 peppercorns. When the water boils, drop the clams in their shells. When the water starts to boil again, the clams will start to open fast. Be careful as you do not want to oversook them. Remove pan from heat. Scoop out the clams (still in shells), transfer to a bowl and set aside. Strain the broth.
Cook rice (read package direction as to the amount of liquid required) in chicken and clam broth.
Heat skillet. Add 2 tbsp. of cooking oil. When, smoking hot, add chicken livers. Turn them over as soon as the bottom side browns. When the other side is likewise browned, remove from the skillet, transfer to a plate and set asie. Reheat the oil before adding the fish fillet cubes. Brown them, as with the chicken, then transfer to a plate and set aside.
Heat another skillet. Add 1/8 c. of olive oil. When oil is hot (but before it starts to smoke; olive oil has a lower boiling point so it will start to smoke fast), add crabs to skillet. When the color changes (the bottom side will turn white; the shell will turn a bright orange), turn them. The crabs will only take a few minutes to cook. Remove them to a plate and set aside.
Add remaining olive oil to skillet. When hot, add carrots. Stir for about 2 minutes. Remove to a plate. Reheat oil. Add remaining 1 tbsp. of garlic. Stir until it starts to brown. Add remaining diced onion, bell pepper and minced sausage. Stir for 30 seconds. Add chicken eggs and celery. Remove eggs when they turn opaque (they will be soft-boiled). Add bay leaf, sweet peas and tomato paste. Stir to mix evenly. Add cooked rice. Stir until a uniform color is achieved. Adjust seasonings. Add crabs, chicken meat and livers, clams, fish fillet, carrots, eggs and chopped parsley. Stir lightly to distribute ingredients. Remove from heat and serve at once.