"It was off season in the little fishing town of Cambados and every restaurant my chef pals had recommended was closed. I was after arroz con bogavante - a moist rice dish with lobster. The Galicians, like other Spaniards, always make the most of an expensive ingredient such as crayfish, and in this dish they use every single part and intensify the flavour by frying the shell with herbs and garlic to make a rich stock. The only place doing anything more than bar food was the Parador, the local arm of the state-owned luxury hotel chain. I was the only person in the dining room. When the waiter, dressed in white shirt, tie and waistcoat, delivered the great pan in front of me and started the silver-service treatment I felt a moment of absurdity. But the arroz con bogavante was good. The rice had taken on the flavour of the seafood without losing its own earthy identity, while the vegetables and herbs sat in the background. Two lobster tails had been finished in the oven and were perfectly done."
- 2 live yabbies (about 200gm each)
- 130 ml olive oil
- 1 head of garlic, halved horizontally, plus 3 cloves coarsely chopped
- A few thyme sprigs
- 4 ripe tomatoes, blanched, refreshed, peeled and puréed
- 500 ml dry white wine
- 1 onion, diced
- 300 gm (1 1/3 cups) bomba rice (see note)
- 1Put the yabbies humanely to sleep by freezing them for 20-30 minutes, then split them in half lengthways with a large sharp knife or cleaver. Reserve the coral. Remove heads and small legs, and keep tails and large claws separate. Heat 50ml olive oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add yabby heads and small legs, halved garlic head and thyme sprigs. Cook, stirring often, until shells are pink and very fragrant (12-15 minutes). Add 125ml tomato purée, half the wine and 1 litre cold water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until well-flavoured (1¾-2 hours), strain through a fine sieve and reserve 900ml (add hot water if necessary to make up the amount). Keep warm.
- 2Meanwhile, lightly crack yabby claws with the back of a cleaver. Heat remaining olive oil in a perol (see note) or large ovenproof frying pan over high heat, add tail pieces and claws and stir frequently until shells change colour (2-3 minutes). Season to taste, then remove from the pan and set aside. Reduce heat to medium, add onion and a pinch of salt and sauté until soft (5-6 minutes). Add chopped garlic and sauté until fragrant (1-2 minutes), then stir in the remaining tomato purée and simmer, stirring occasionally, until very thick (25-30 minutes). Add remaining wine, bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thick and dark (20-30 minutes). Remove from heat.
- 3Preheat oven to 180C. Add hot yabby stock to tomato mixture, bring to the boil over high heat, scatter with rice and a pinch of salt and stir. Reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly reduced (8-10 minutes). Add tails and claws, transfer to oven and bake until rice is al dente (10-15 minutes). Remove from heat and stand for a few minutes before serving.
Note Bomba rice is a short-grain rice available from select Spanish delicatessens and The Essential Ingredient. A perol is a traditional Spanish pan with deep sides and rounded edges, available from Spanish delicatessens and specialist cookware stores. This recipe is from MoVida Rustica: Spanish Traditions and Recipes by Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish and published by Murdoch Books ($59.95, hbk) and appeared in the October 2009 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller. In editing these recipes for publication, we have made minor changes to bring them into Gourmet Traveller style.