Shrimp and Rice - Gamba y arroz
• Rice: Heat sauté pan over medium heat. Add olive oil and heat slightly, and then add the shallots and the red pepper. Cook until shallots are translucent. Add the rice to the sauté pan and coat completely. Ladle in enough chicken stock to cover the rice. Allow it to simmer. Continue gradually incorporating the stock until the rice is cooked, or approximately 14 minutes. In the meantime, make your infused by grinding up the saffron in mortar and pestle and adding the hot water. Pour over the rice and mix. Take rice off the heat and incorporate the butter and Manchego. Set aside until cool.
• Aioli: Whisk the yolk, Dijon mustard, lemon zest and lemon juice in a bowl. Add the combined oils slowly while continuing to whisk constantly. Stop once the aioli comes together. Add lemon zest and minced garlic. Salt to taste.
• Shrimp: Heat sauté pan over medium heat. Once hot, add butter and melt. Add the cleaned shrimp along with garlic. Cook for a few minutes on each side. Remove from pan and place over paper towel.
• Once the rice has cooled, shape 4 golf ball-like pieces of rice. Coat these with flour, then egg, and then breadcrumbs. Fry them until golden either in a deep fryer or in hot canola oil. Once cooked, place over paper towel. Plate and serve immediately.
I grew up in Venezuela, a country deeply influenced by the Spanish culture and cuisine. Legs of jamón Ibérico were a regular feature in our kitchen. Bakeries were often owned by Spaniards, and I learned to love their baked goods. In 2014, I lived in Madrid for 6 months. It was then that I truly discovered the diversity, simplicity, and deliciousness of Spanish food. I became enamored by the way the Spanish used the best and simplest ingredients to create interesting and original dishes. While living in Spain, I traveled throughout all ends of the country and took cooking lessons. Whenever I had the chance, I would watch Canal Cocina (an amazing Spanish food channel). I learned that you can put almost anything on top of a slice of good glass bread and call it a bocado. I also learned that due to scarcity of food during the civil war, Spaniards incorporated interesting non-perishables into their diets and these have become very important. I came to love things that may be strange to westerners, like beef tripe. The Spanish have a way of elevating ingredients in a simple way.