Portuguese tomato-chili rice with almond asparagus

7 Oct

Man just asked Woman, by rights and passport a Portuguese national, what makes this rice Portuguese.

“My dad makes it,” said she (I).

While much of what my Portuguese dad makes is not Portuguese, I am quite confident this is a recurring dish in Portuguese cuisine. Portuguese cuisine, I  must emphasise. You might be tempted to say, ‘oh, like paella’. Portuguese people rightly say no. This is not like paella at all. And while in technique this dish bears some resemblance to risotto, shut up. It’s not risotto either. (I refer you to the campaign)

Woman’s dad often served this with pork, or probably if he remained on the old continent, bacalao (salted cod) or similar.

Portuguese rice

  • 1/2 C arborio (or just bloody pudding, that’s what the peasants do and who’s to argue?) rice
  • 1 1/2 C water
  • 1/2 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 can whole peeled or diced tomatoes
  • 1 ripe, medium-sized tomato, diced
  • 1/2 good-sized Spanish  (ummm… Iberian) onion cut into chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • Half a capsicum (optional)
  • dash of dry white wine
  • 1 – 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 8 – 10 sprigs of parsley, chopped up
  • 1 TBSP piri-piri sauce (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Almond asparagus

  • 4  asparagus
  • 2 TBSP sliced almonds
  • a very non-stingy amount of salt

Heat olive oil in a pan, adding onion then garlic. Before either soften, add rice and swirl around in pan to ensure it’s entirely coated with oil. Throw in a splash of dry white wine.

Add 1 C of the water, with stock (you could dilute it before, but we couldn’t be bothered on a cold Friday night) and allow to absorb over medium heat for about 5 – 10 minutes. Add can of tomatoes and chopped fresh tomato. Add extra 1/2 C water.

Cook for another while. I don’t know how long it was, to be frank, more than 10 minutes. I was busy taking down washing and filling hot water bottles. Essentially you want to rice to be soft, there to be no excess liquid, but the rice to have an al dente bite. Just before serving, add lemon juice, piri-piri sauce (if so desired) and stir through chopped parsley.

This would work fantastically with prawns or other firm white seafood. Other white land-dwelling meat should work fine, but ManWoman doesn’t know why it’s encouraging you to eat meat, when the asparagus was so fantastic.

So, asparagus.

While heating up or finishing off the Portuguese rice, heat more olive oil in yet another (that would be the second) pan. Chuck your asparagus in there, go on. Salt generously and then throw in the sliced almonds. Toss these around for a while, if some almonds go black, don’t fret. It won’t do much damage really, they end up being quite edible.

Before asparagus get anywhere near soggy – it is our belief that they can probably be eaten raw-er than their greener counterparts – serve atop a few scoops of the Portuguese rice.

You may – obviously, us not being the boss of you  or anything like that – grate some parmesan or hard white goats’ cheese atop this delight, but I dare say you won’t need to. It’s pretty freakin’ good.

Estimated cost: £3

Musical accompaniment: CocoRosie


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