Along the coast of Portugal cities and towns serve up incredible seafood dishes. Pairing seafood with potatoes or rice with plenty of garlic, they're a delicious way to enjoy the bounty from the sea. One of my favourites is this simple seafood stew or Arroz de Marisco made with prawns, mussels and clams with a rich seafood stock.
There are times when you are away and you can't wait to come back home. That is, back home to cook something like this seafood rice or Arroz de Marisco. It is so simple that I could have possibly made this when I was in Portugal.
In Portugal we were staying in a lot of Airbnbs. Mr NQN prefers them while I prefer hotels but he convinced me that we should stay in them because we were driving and that way we would avoid the expensive hotel parking charges that can add up over the course of almost two weeks and we could also do laundry. Because all the places we stayed in had kitchens I could have conceivably made this.
The homes were very different to each other and while I still maintain I love hotels more there were no real complaints. In fact one Airbnb host was very helpful. Actually while we were out at dinner the night before our arrival to her house she rang me on the phone. I'm always surprised when anyone rings me on the phone let alone when I'm in Portugal but she wanted to chat about things.
When we arrived she and her husband greeted us and then pulled out a map and wrote out where we should go. Then they took our laundry - the listing had said they had a dryer but it turns out they didn't but they offered to do our laundry which was very sweet. "They're so nice and helpful!" I said to Mr NQN.
Sometimes helpfulness can morph into something else. Early the next morning at the crack of dawn the phone rang downstairs several times stopping before we could reach it. Then the 8:30am and 9:30am the clock would chime (never any other time). And then the messages would start. "How did you sleep?" and then "How was dinner?" and if I didn't answer within a couple of hours, she would message me again. She was so enthusiastic and I think she just wanted to make sure that we really enjoyed Portugal.
During our stay they asked us several times to write in their guest book. The night before we left I picked up the pen and thought about what I should write. I ended up writing that staying in their place we were made to feel like family. Which was technically true, although it was like staying with enthusiastic, high maintenance parents that love to text ;)
So tell me Dear Reader, do you prefer Airbnbs or hotels? Have you ever had a really helpful host?
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Arroz de Marisco
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
- Oil for frying
- 3 onions, peeled and diced
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
- 2 chillies, diced
- 4 coriander stalks, rinsed well and finely chopped*
- Coarsely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus juice
- 5 tomatoes, diced
- 1 green capsicum, seeded and diced
- 1 1/4 cup carolina rice**, rinsed just once
- 700ml/25flozs. seafood stock*
- 8 prawns
- 200g/7ozs. clams or pippies
- 200g/7ozs. black mussels
- Chilli oil to serve
- Coriander leaves
Coriander roots are the bottom 1 inch of the coriander. In some countries (England I've heard) they don't sell the coriander with roots attached. In this case just use the stalks. Carolina rice is a Portuguese variety of rice similar to arborio but smaller. You can substitute with arborio rice. Whenever I cook prawns I always make up a batch of seafood stock and freeze it. In this case you can peel and remove the heads from these prawns and make a stock using these.
Step 1 - In a large pot saute the onion, garlic, chillies, coriander and lemon zest in a few tablespoons of oil together for a few minutes until fragrant. Add tomatoes and capsicum and cook for another couple of minutes until starting to soften. Add the rice and stir everything together and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the seafood stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes or so stirring occasionally so that the rice doesn't stick to the bottom.
Step 2 - Add seafood to the pot stirring to submerge it and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the clams and mussels have opened and the prawns are cooked through. Dress with chilli oil and coriander leaves. Season with salt and pepper and lemon juice.