Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ese Arroz Prieto Con Sofrito (Cuban Purple Jasmine Rice)


Okay okay this is NOT an AUTHENTIC and NOT a TRADITIONAL Cuban dish. In fact it's my grandmothers recipe that she made up but is soooo good. It is a fragrant Jasmine Rice mixed with some Black Glutinous Rice cooked in a cuban sofrito with cumin and salt. We have no specific name in my house so it's just "ese arroz prieto con sofrito" which means "That Black Rice with Sofrito (onion,bell pepper, and garlic in lard or olive oil)"

Let me explain, Thai Fragrant Jasmine Rice is a type of rice that smells wonderful, it literaly smells like Jasmine flowers if you get a good quality. It has thin long grains, and is sticky but maintains texture it still has a "bite" to it.

Thai Black Glutinous Rice
, is used in Thai cuisine for desserts, and sometimes mixed with white glutinous rice to make a plain purple colored sticky rice dish. The grains of this rice are NATURALLY black, and stains anything it is cooked with purple and if you use to much it will become black.

My family along time ago had a Chinese friend who introduced us to the wonderful Jasmine Rice, my mother loved it and use to buy it all the time afterwards we would use it the way Cubans use regular white rice. When the rice prices doubled my mom went back to "Mahatma" rice (regular long-grain white), but my Filipino friend always ate this wonderful Jasmine Rice that was new crop branded as "Three Ladies" I loved it and convinced my mom to buy it and she fell in love with it again and after eating that, I don't think I'll eat any other type of rice.

Also the Thai Black Glutinous Rice my mother discovered it when she began working for a Chinese lady a couple years ago (she no longer works there) the lady always steamed Jasmine rice with a certain amount of Black Glutinous Rice, to make a "Purple Jasmine Rice"

My mother made some in the house, then one day my grandmother was like, "Parece Moros ese Arroz que curioso" (translates to: it looks like Moors and Christians which is like the national dish of Cuba white rice steamed in black bean broth with black beans) and she said, "Ay que meterle sofrito cubano pa'ver que pasa" (translates to: we gotta put cuban sofrito in it and see what happens)

So my grandmother steamed it mixed with a Cuban sofrito and a little cumin and salt, and we all fell in love with it. It is delicious, it tasted like "Moros" kinda, it was slightly sweet and nutty from the Black Glutinous Rice and fragrant with the Jasmine and in addition it had the familiar smell of a sofrito. Very good. I am glad we have a variety of Asian stores and other ethnic stores and cultures here in Southern California.

-2 cups white jasmine rice (the best one for me is Three Ladies brand)
-1/2 cup black glutinous rice
-3 cups water
-1 onion finely minced
-1 green bell pepper finely minced
-6 cloves garlic mashed to a paste
-2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
-2 1/2 teaspoons salt
-1 teaspoon ground cumin

(1)Mix white jasmine rice with black glutinous rice, wash well once by swishing while streaming in water until rice pot is full to top then drain.
(2)Add 3 cups of water
(3)Make a sofrito by sauteeing onion and bell pepper in olive oil on medium high for about 5-6 minutes then adding garlic and sauteeing until fragrant.
(4)Stir sofrito into rice pot, add salt and cumin, stir well.
(5)Cover and turn on rice cooker and cook until it beeps and is ready then just fluff it. It makes pairs well with any Cuban dish.


You can make this plain without sofrito, cumin, and salt and it will just be regular "Purple Jasmine Rice" which I love to.

I love Jasmine rice lots, it's the plain white rice we eat at the house, every now and then it gets the regular cuban style White Rice which is simply white rice steamed with olive oil and salt and it is heaven to my household.

Of course in no way can the Jasmine rice replace our beloved "Valencia" short-grain variety rices used in our "Arroz Con Pollo" or "Paella" and also "Arroz a la Chorrera"

Sopa de Chicharos (Pea Soup)

This is a very simple split pea soup. I haven't had this soup in about 2 years. I remember it was a cold day and my grandmother made this really simply soup that was delicious, thick, filling, yet sits warm and comfortable in my stomach served along side a nice bowl of hot steaming white rice just out of the rice cooker with the warm soup. Of course it is summer but I felt like making it for dinner. (We always have some legume based dish in my house daily). For a heavier meal you can pair it with a meat dish, and a vegetable side dish. For a very light comforting meal it's good with just rice.

-3 cups split dry green peas (you may use whole peas but split is what is best for this dish it makes a thicker soup)
-10 cups of water
-1 small medium green bell pepper finely minced
-1 small medium onion finely minced
-4 cloves of garlic mashed to a paste or through a garlic press
-1 teaspoon of ground cumin
-1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)
-salt to taste
-Extra-Virgin olive oil about 1/4 cup or 3 tablespoons

(1)Rinse the peas several times through water, put in a pot and add water, bring to a boil on high and simmer on medium low until fully cooked probably around 1 hour.
(2)Make sofrito, heat olive oil on medium high heat, sautee onions and bell pepper for about 5-7 minutes, then add garlic and sautee for about 2 minutes, turn of heat.
(3)Add the "sofrito" to the cooked peas, season with cumin, pepper, and salt. Let it simmer 10-20 minutes together.
(4)Your done :)
NOTE: This basic recipe can be done with ANY TYPE OF LEGUME/ BEAN and still taste good, to make really simple yet delicous bean soups, you can do this with black beans for a more simple version of the Cuban Black Bean Soup, you can do it with red beans but if done with red be sure to use lard instead of olive oil.

The seasoning's used in this soup is one of the most basic ways to season things in Cuban cooking (well my grandmothers style of cooking) it's usually always a very simple sofrito (lard or olive oil, garlic, onion, and bell pepper) then cumin and salt. Those are found in almost all Cuban dishes as a base, then they are build up on with other spices for certain dishes.