Moving right along with Flavors of Brazil's Rice Week...
If one thought about how to categorize the many thousands of Brazilian rice recipes (which one has been doing here at the blog) it seems that they might be grouped into four basic categories. First, there are the recipes for making white rice itself with only a small amount of other ingredients to season the grain, if any. Next would be the side-dish combinations of rice plus vegetables or beans. Third would be the richer, more complex main dishes which combine rice with meat or seafood, often with vegetables as well. And finally, sweet rices dishes and desserts, like the rice pudding featured yesterday on Flavors of Brazil.
Today's recipe for rice with crabmeat is a good example of the third category above - a mixture of rice, picked-over fresh crabmeat and a number of vegetables. It comes from the northeastern Brazilian state of Maranhão and is just one of many recipes from that state that combine rice with the bounty of the sea.
This dish, and its many cousins, are similar to Spanish paellas with their combination of rice, seafood, bell peppers, tomatoes etc., but differ from paella in that the rice is pre-cooked separately and then combined with the other ingredients in the final stages of the preparation. In Spanish paellas the rice and other ingredients are all cooked at the same time over an open flame, resulting in a more risotto-like consistency.
Feel free to play around with recipes like this one - Brazilian cooks do. If you can't get your hands on crabmeat (or can't afford it when you find it) you can substitute all kinds of other seafoods - small shrimps, clams or mussels, rings of squid - all are perfectly acceptable substitutes.
This dish is rich and satisfying without being overwhelmingly so, and with a green salad makes a great light supper or weekend lunch.
RECIPE - Rice with Crabmeat (Arroz de Caranguejo)
2 cups picked-over fresh crabmeat (can substitute equal quantity canned crab or any other seafood)
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely-chopped onion
1/2 cup finely-diced red or green bell pepper (or a combination)
1/2 cup tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
juice of one lime
salt to taste
4 cups cooked white rice (long-grain is best)
2 Tbsp finely-chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp finely-chopped green onion (green part only)
Rinse the crabmeat or other seafood well in fresh running water. Drain and reserve.
In a large saucepan heat the oil over medium-high heat, then add the chopped onion, bell pepper and tomato. Cook for a few minutes or until the onion is softened and transparent, the peppers are softened and the tomato begins to break up. Reduce the heat to medium, then add the crabmeat and the lime juice. Cook for another minute or so, or until the crabmeat is heated through. Season for salt.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the rice, mixing well to combine all the ingredients. Cook, stirring constantly until the rice is hot. Remove from the heat, mix in the chopped cilantro and green onion and serve immediately in a decorative serving bowl or casserole.
Recipe translated and adapted from Cozinha Regional Brasileira by Abril Editora.