Arroz Caldoso con Cangrejo – or Holidays, Romance and Crabs

Any of you who have followed my blog since way back when may recall a trip we made a few years back to the north of Spain. To Galicia and Asturias more precisely. An insanely beautiful part of the country, lush and green. Lush and green because, like in Scotland or the English Lake District, it rains a lot. And rain (and rain) it did. Which left us plenty of time for eating and drinking. Always look on the bright side, I say.

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I don’t know why it surprised us that it rained, even though it was only the tail end of summer, as holidays and special occasions are generally a complete disaster for Big Man and me.

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Our anniversary falls on 11th November so aside from the fact a lot of folk are quite rightly marking a very solemn memorial to all those who lost their lives in conflict, it’s a dreadful time of year for good weather in the Northern Hemisphere. Christmas and Birthdays generally involve some sort of disaster or a member of the extended family falling ill so we’ve now accepted that we’ll not get ourselves too worked up over celebrations and holidays and just enjoy the everyday joys.

There is a point to all this reminiscing. Today I bought two cooked and dressed crabs at the local fishmonger intending to boil some potatoes, make a salad and call it lunch. Big Man began to talk about an amazing meal we’d had on our trip to the north of Spain. The rain poured down, the wind howled and the first hotel we stayed in was nice but miles out of town. After a long, long drive we decided to do something we rarely do and EAT IN THE HOTEL RESTAURANT. What a good decision that was. The food was incredible and we made the most of it, ordering their speciality of Arroz Caldoso con Bogavante (which translates as brothy rice with lobster) for our last night there. Why didn’t I make “brothy” rice with crab he asked? Why not indeed, so I did, and absolutely wonderful it was too.

If you have an earthenware cazuela to make and serve this in, use it (Celia, I’m talking about you!). It really makes a difference to the flavour and is more authentic.

Ingredients (to serve 4)

  • The meat from 2 cooked crabs (white and brown) which will weigh about 260g – although you can use raw too but will need to cook them first
  • About 1.2l of fish stock made from the crab shells and any other bits of fish you can beg from your fishmonger and with a few strands of saffron added
  • 400g paella rice
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 200g chopped, peeled tomatoes (if using tinned, and why wouldn’t you, make sure to drain them first)
  • A splash of brandy
  • Salt & Pepper
  • A lemon, quartered
  • Some finely chopped parsley to serve
  • Olive oil

Gently fry the onion in a little olive oil until it is softened but not browned then add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes and cook gently for about 10 minutes and add the splash of brandy. Next add the rice and stock.

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(A little reminder, if you’re making paella you’ll need 100g of rice per person approximately and for every 100g of rice you need about 210ml of liquid. For brothy rice you need the same amount of rice but 3 times the amount of liquid, so approx 300ml to every 100g of rice.)

Cook gently, half covered until the rice is almost done, add more stock if it’s drying out too much, then add the cooked crab meat, stir and taste and add seasoning if necessary at this point. Turn the heat off, cover the pan and let the rice rest for at least 5 minutes and to let the rice finish cooking. Serve with a little parsley sprinkled over and wedges of lemon to squeeze over the food.

This is a dish made with a few ingredients but which lets them shine, it tastes luxurious and decadent. Which made me think it would be good for a Valentines meal – very romantic. Unless you happen to be us and also have Valentine’s Disasters…but more of that in a few days.

If you want to see more of the North of Spain, do check out the links at the start of the post, which I hope you’ll enjoy.

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65 thoughts on “Arroz Caldoso con Cangrejo – or Holidays, Romance and Crabs

  1. OMG chica. This is incredible. I have cazuelas too! I must must do this! What beautiful memories you have. Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe.

  2. I think they had about 5 feet of snow this week, but nevertheless, Asturias and Galicia are beautiful regions and relatively quiet parts of Spain for summer holidays. Your arroz caldoso looks delicious – I’d be tempted to make some right now if I had any crab meat 😉

    1. I should have said – a cazuela is an earthenware cooking pot. We use all different sizes in Spain to cook with, really makes a difference to the flavour and you can use them from oven or stovetop to the table!

  3. Oh yum!! Girlfriend just phoned from Sydney: coming down, what did I want from ‘town’ . . .she’s going to get a call back in about five minutes!! Hope she is good at charming the fishmongers at the Sydney Fish Markets for some extra fish stock ingredients in addition to finding a few fresh crabs!!! Have a cazuela!!!!!

  4. We had a lovely time in Asturias a few years back – my brother-in-law used to live there. And your cazuela looks delicious, with or without the cazuela 😉

  5. I’m sure you know crab is my favourite-favourite and this meal is most definitely on the top shelf of scrumity!
    Pete and I have generally always spent our anniversary on our own, I’m sure we are just selfish because of him being away so often.
    Have a lovely week ahead Tanya.
    🙂 Mandy xo

    1. We spend our anniversary on our own too – best thing really as we wouldn’t want to inflict the bad meals, horrific flights or shoddy hotels we generally experience on anyone else 😉

  6. What a fabulous crab dish! I need to explore Spain more. I’ve only been there for three weeks. What I saw was so beautiful, but it was only one little corner! (northeast)

  7. Another recipe to add to the wishlist! I don’t know how The Management will feel about crab -I think as long as he doesn’t have to work too hard to get to the meat it should be fine.I will chat up my fishmonger on Monday.

  8. I can see Ms Celia rocking that rice Ms Chica. I have one of those earthenware pots that I picked up for $2 from a local thrift shop. I am too scared to put it on the hob! I think part of what makes celebrations memorable is when things go wrong. I don’t know about you, but any time where everything goes right is suddenly and immediately erased from all existence in my memory. It’s the times that things go spectacularly wrong that I am going to remember when I am 90+ and I am guessing that some force out there wants you to remember all of those anniversaries when you are a delightful elderly Chica and is giving you the ‘memory means’ to do so 😉

    1. Ooh what a bargain you got there. If you half fill it with water and put it on a very low heat to simmer gently for a couple of hours then dry it properly you should have no problems. They just don’t like sudden extremes of heat. So when you’ve finished, just don’t plunge it into a bowl of water – let it cool first. And I so agree with you re the memories – and you do get to the point when you can chuckle about them “oh yes Big Man, remember when we flew to Dublin for our anniversary a few years back, couldn’t sit together, had a four hour delay and then landed in a lightning storm while the nuns of the plane were calling out to all the saints to spare us”. Ha ha, how we laugh now 😉

      1. LOL! You two are destined to have “those moments” in your important (and most memorable) events Ms Chica… at least you won’t forget them easily! 😉

      2. And cheers for telling me how to use it. I just open the cupboard and admire it occasionally at the moment. Now I can actually use it! 🙂

  9. Oh my this sounds awfully good – you know rain isn’t always such a bad thing… and now I’ll be scouring the thrift stores for a “cazuela”! Mmmmm… hungry!!

  10. Oh I love this idea! Not just the crab version, but the idea of using paella rice in a broth – we Chinese make a lot of rice porridges, which are similar to this in texture, but completely different in flavours. I’m going to give a meat version of this a go in my cazuela (Pete’s not a big crab fan). As always, thank you for the inspiration! Oh, and I think an amazing meal in a hotel restaurant in the howling rain is terribly romantic.. 🙂

    1. Hi Celia – when I first started living in Spain you just couldn’t get any other kind of rice, at least not where I lived, and it’s really normal to put paella rice in broth. In fact, when people make what we would call a simple paella it’s simply called “un arroz” (a rice) and the person who cooks it makes it with lots of broth and the diners get to choose if they want it “caldoso” (brothy) or “sin caldo” (without broth)!! And yes, howling rain can be romantic but I think we were more focused on the delicious meal….typical!

  11. Your top picture reminds me very much of a river not far from us. (about 1 hour drive). Fantastic place to swim and picnic in the summer. But then Nelson is one of the sunniest places in NZ so we’re lucky. (And we’re having a bit of a drought at the moment.)
    We don’t have big edible crabs available at the fish monger or supermarket though. Shame.

  12. T – I would give this a go, I like the idea of a more “soupy” rice dish. (I like the idea of any rice dish!!) However, I would give it a miss on Valentines Day as I often end up wearing food with sauces!! Lynn x x

    1. Am laughing out loud here Lynn as Big Man and I are notorious for “spillage down the front” L Not very romantic, as you say….at least this one doesn’t leave you with bits in your teeth like Chinese seaweed…even less romantic!!!

  13. Absolutely wonderful recipe, which I have bookmarked, and which I will be making very soon. I always think of crabs in the summer so maybe it will wait until then. Talking of rainy holidays, I thought that Jenny and I had that particular problem solely to ourselves. We have been to places were the natives had never seen rain until we arrived…on HOLIDAY. We never go on HOLIDAY now…we just go away without mentioning that word in the hope of fooling Mother Nature:)

    1. Ah thanks Roger for the kind words – I hope you do make it and enjoy with the wonderful crabs that must be available your way. I think your advice about “going away” rather than going on “Holiday” is very wise! Mind you, we are nipping across the channel to France for a few days next week so do get your wet weather gear ready 😉

  14. The Better Half would be in heaven with this meal. And I’m with you, always look on the bright side. We have plans to go to Scotland in March. I’m packing my rain gear.

  15. When to visit Indonesia, to see the typical food here, because I want all the food in my country on display in this blog,, 🙂 because I’m sure the food in my country no less tasty, hehe

  16. Wow you been to Bali, I am very proud of, and there are more beautiful in Indonesia, namely the island of Lombok, Lombok my native town, you can go there and feel the beauty of the beach and the food is typical of Lombok.

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