Spicy Blog

Erik's Food Blog - Spain

Geez, two favorite foods again. One does not require any cooking. It is Jamon Serrano or the even more amazing Jamon Iberico. Eat it once and never go back. Whenever I am in Spain, I eat it as an appetizer at every meal (well, at least at dinner).

The second dish is Paella. I prefer Paella with Squid Ink (it turns the rice black, adds a subtle flavor, and you can rest assured that your guests probably never had it before). Cooking a great Paella is conceptually tricky since it requires a few ingredients that are a bit difficult to find in the US (besides squid ink), namely langoustines (if you have never seen one, here is the link to Wikipedia with photos - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nephrops_norvegicus). These are small spiny lobsters and are about 10-15 cm long. The tail can be eaten, like in a lobster, but the magic is that they are mostly bones which add a ton of flavor. The second ingredient is the rice. Using Bomba rice is as important as having the patience to simmer it, very slowly. Lastly, a heavy, large skillet or even better a paella pan (doesn't everyone have one taking up space in the closet for the once a year use?). The bigger, the better (and the heavier, the better). Paella is all about slow-cooking and presentation to your friends. A recipe that I like can be found at the NY Times (Paella by the Sea by John Willoughby - https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1014888-paella-of-the-sea?action=click&module=Global%20Search%20Recipe%20Card&pgType=search&rank=8n ). This recipe is without squid ink and langoustines but still impressive. For the more exotic versions put Barcelona or Mallorca on your vacation list. Lastly, since I think this dish is perfect for an al fresco dinner during the hot summer months, I prefer a crisp, light, cooled white or rose wine.

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