November 13, 2015

RECIPE - Frutos do mar with black rice

This dish is iconic for us. First served in 2010, its creative mix of local seafood and exotic crunch of black rice really fit the appetite of our guests and Trancoso natives alike, and in the past years its been impossible to leave off our menu for long since we get constant requests for it.

What stands out immediately is the Bahian seafood combination, a real abundance! There's local lobster, prawns, octopus, squid and mussels. These marry to international ingredients, white wine and exotic black rice - which centuries ago in China was consumed only by Emperors, eventually reaching Trancoso with hippies in the 1970's - making this dish really embody our culinary philosophy. Authentically Trancoso, but with hints of world travel. Its full of flavor, fresh and healthy, and mixes beautiful colors and textures.

The pics below shows some of the fresh catch going into this dish.

Its another day of spectacular weather and we're going to take advantage of the quiet afternoon, enjoy a glass of wine and cook in our teaching kitchen overlooking UXUA's garden and shimmering green, aventurine quartz pool.

Loaded with Chinese dynastic history and produced there still, the black rice stands out with it's buttery shine and nutty flavor, and with 30% more protein and 20% more fiber than even brown rice its very nutritionally dense. A Brazilian nutritionist insists it possesses unique benefits for human health with phenolic properties which prevent ageing and oxidation. While we're not ready yet to endorse those amazing claims, we're sure this is one of the healthiest plates around and tastes amazing!

On this all-star ingredients list we add a small dripping of sauce on the side made from pitanga fruit, which luckily for us grows here in our own garden and gets picked as we need it.

We've admired our beautiful ingredients long enough and of course given our thanks to have them, so now its time to start cooking, which in this case is not at all a complicated process.

To begin, in a hot pan with a touch of good olive oil add the seafood seasoned with salt and pepper, adding separately each seafood because each has it's own cooking time:

First the lobster, which after 1-2 minutes will start gradually changing it's color.

Then add the prawns, the mussels and squid which will stay in the pan a maximum of 4-5 minutes.

Than add the pre-cooked octopus (if you prefer fresh octopus you can review how to handle it in our Fisherman Spaghetti entry).

Top with white wine and fresh basil.

Then go ahead and pour in tomato sauce, we use a fresh base made daily of organic tomatoes, skinned, baked a bit then simmered in a pan and stirred slowly over low fire until all the flesh is pretty much dissolved, then its strained and ready to go.

The whole cooking time should be about 8 minutes.

The seafood shouldn't be cooked to the point of becoming chewy, remaining soft yet absorbing a bit the flavors of the wine, basil and tomato.

For the black rice.

Prepare a pan seasoned with garlic and olive oil.

Add the black rice and sauté it for 2 minutes with some leaves of basil.

Arranging the plate need not be too strict or fussy, as that would not be Bahian. The dripping of pitanga fruit sauce should be just a very small dose, as this is only meant to be a fun, light-hearted optional flavor addition. The popularity of pitanga in Trancoso is due to its abundance here, and how easily it can be used in recipes (this sauce is pure fruit with just a touch of sugar added).