This fragrant soupy rice is a celebration of abundance, and a wonderful way to feed a big group.
- 1 whole (about 1.3 kg) white-fleshed, mild-flavoured fish, such as red snapper, boned and filleted or 450 g fish fillets
- 1 ½ pounds ripe tomatoes
- 2 jalapeño or serrano chillies, or to taste
- 8 garlic cloves, 5 finely chopped, 3 peeled and left whole
- ½ cup coarsely chopped white onion
- 2 ¼ tsp kosher or coarse salt or to taste, divided
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 450 g squid, cleaned, rinsed and sliced into 5-6 mm rings
- 450 g medium shrimp, peeled, shells and tails reserved if making broth
- 2 cups long or extra long white rice or jasmine rice
- 5 cups seafood or fish broth, homemade or store bought
- 3 coriander sprigs
- 12 small to medium fresh clams, scrubbed and rinsed
- 12 small to medium fresh mussels, scrubbed and rinsed
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cut the fish fillets so that you have 6 more or less equally sized pieces. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Set aside.
Place the tomatoes, jalapeños, and the 3 whole garlic cloves in a medium saucepan, cover with water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer until the tomatoes are fully cooked and very soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes, garlic cloves, and only 1 of the jalapeños (puree one chilli at a time, taste for heat, and add the other if desired) to a blender, and add the onion and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Puree until completely smooth.
Rinse and dry the saucepan and heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in it over medium heat.
Once hot, add the tomato puree and cover the pan partially with a lid, as the puree will sputter and jump. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thick, dark and fragrant, about 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large, wide casserole, heat ¼ cup of the olive oil over high heat. Once hot, toss in the squid, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt, add half of the finely chopped garlic, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove the squid and the garlic with a slotted spoon and place in a heatproof bowl.
Add the shrimp to the casserole, along with another ½ teaspoon of salt and half of the remaining chopped garlic, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring and flipping the shrimp over halfway through. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in the bowl with the squid.
Reduce the heat to medium and add ¼ cup of the remaining olive oil to the casserole. Once hot, add the rice and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the casserole, until the rice is crackling and coated with oil, feels heavier in the pan as you stir it, and the color of the grains has changed from a pale white to a deep milky white.
Pour the cooked-down tomato puree over the rice; it will sizzle and smoke a bit, which is what you want. Cover partially with a lid and cook, stirring a couple of times, until the rice absorbs most of the sauce, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the seafood broth and stir the rice, scraping the bottom of the casserole. Add the coriander sprigs and reduce the heat to medium-low. Gently arrange the reserved shrimp and squid on top of the rice, adding any of their juices from the bowl, as well as the clams, mussels and seasoned fish fillets.
Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until the fish is cooked through and can be easily pulled apart with a fork, and the clams and mussels have opened up. Turn off the heat and serve immediately in soup plates. The rice should be tender and the mixture very soupy.