Colorful spicy rice with scallops and vegetables.
Peru is a country that prides itself for the quality of its seafood, and it has every reason to do so. The logical explanation for the wonderful food that our waters produce is that the cold Humboldt Current that flows along our coasts makes for a better quality of plankton (the food that fish and seafood eat). As they say, you are what you eat. Peruvians however, like to idealize things a bit saying the real reason behind this good fortune is that God was born in Peru, and he blessed us with so much richness year round.
The recipe I’m about to give you pairs two of the darlings of our gastronomy: rice and scallops. As you already know if you have been reading our previous posts, rice is ever-present in our meals; people just love it and have it every single day as the main course or a side dish. Scallops, on the other hand, are enjoyed fresh from the market in different preparations, especially broiled with Parmesan cheese, or in cebiche. They usually come with its roe still attached, and we think it gives it an extra something, but the health conscious try to avoid it because they say it is very high in cholesterol. Other than in Peru´s fish markets, I´ve never seen scallops sold with the roe. This is fine too, of course, but definitely not as colorful!
When I’m there, I like to eat this whenever I get the chance. It’s simply delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed anyone trying it and not loving it. At home we would make it all the time, because it’s very easy and extremely satisfying, and almost feels like you’re eating in a restaurant when you make it, because of its very special taste and look. My daughter never stopped eating scallops when she became a vegetarian, she thought they looked like fruits from the sea and not like animals, so even she could enjoy this scrumptious, breezy dish when we made it. She still has it every time she feels like having some animal protein, and it’s hard not to feel tempted to have scallops every now and then in Peru, as they are always accessible and fresh. Maybe God was born in Peru after all.
Long grain rice is the best for a good arroz con conchas, but if you prefer it, I would also recommend using a short grain rice like Arborio. You can use this to make a risotto-style arroz con conchas, for example. If the scallops you bought are large (we don’t usually use those, but in lots of countries small scallops like the ones Peruvians love are hard to find), stir-fry them briefly before adding them to the rice. Otherwise, do as I say in the recipe, just barely cooking them. An overcooked scallop is like a rubber band. This is a total culinary faux pas.
I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do. Don’t forget to spray it all over with some freshly squeezed lime juice to give it an acidic touch and bring out all the beautiful flavours in this dish even more. And if you like this, there is a lot more to come. Our fish and seafood repertoire is endless! I’m already dreaming with a fish Chorrillana style…
- 3 cups white rice, cooked
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup diced onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3 fresh ají amarillo, mashed, or 2 tablespoons ají amarillo paste
- 1 cup white corn
- 1 cup diced carrot
- 1 cup green peas
- 1 cup diced red pepper
- ½ cup white wine
- 2 cups vegetable or fish stock
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 2 cups scallops (with or without the roe)
- Lemon slices to serve.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic until translucent, over medium heat. Add the ají amarillo (fresh or paste), stirring well.
- Add corn, carrot, green peas, white wine, stock, salt, and pepper. Cook for a few minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add cooked rice, red pepper and cilantro. Stir.
- Finally, add the scallops, stir and cover the pan, turn off the heat and let cook for five minutes. Add more cilantro and serve with slices of lemon on the side.