Have you ever rediscovered the value of something long forgotten? Reacquainted yourself with an old friend? Isn’t it the best feeling in the world? I’ve had this little Panamanian cookbook for over 20 years–it has the wear, tear and stains to prove it–I think I’ve only pulled it out about 3 times a year for each year I’ve lived here. That’s like 60 uses in over 7,000 days! Crazy!
The cookbook is by Berta de Peláez, a well-known Panamanian cook and TV personality. She is Panama’s answer to Martha Stewart. I remember watching her show every morning with my Mami and my sister. Later my sister and I would get in the kitchen and re-enact our own show. Me as Berta, my sis as Maria, the assistant. Fun times!
Can you imagine how silly I felt after finding this little recipe? It really is a trifecta of goodness: rice, shrimp, garlic. Queue choir chants: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH” Yes. It is that good. It is also incredibly easy to make and terribly quick. Did I say it was DELICIOUS? Because it was. Yep. To die.
It’s almost like a fried rice, except you fry the rice in butter (my adaptation, because butter makes everything bettah) and add a generous amount of garlic. I had some leftover steamed rice from my delivery order of Chinese food, and that’s what I used. You could also make some fresh rice for this, but let it cool a bit before putting it all together. Ready? This is gonna go pretty fast!
Arroz al Ajillo (Garlic Rice)
adapted from El Arte de Cocinar
1/2 medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 tsp smoked paprika
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cp bacon, diced
4 tbsp butter
3-5 garlic cloves, crushed
3 green onions, diced
3 cps rice, cooked
I opted to slice the shrimp in half, lengthwise. Not sure why, but that’s what I did. Season the shrimp with the paprika, salt and pepper and set aside.
In a medium-sized pan, cook the bacon until crisp. Add the shrimp and cook them for a couple of minutes just until they don’t look translucent. Add 2/3 of the green onions. Remove the shrimp and bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the bacon fat behind.
In the same pan, add the butter, once melted add the garlic and give it a quick stir. Don’t let it burn. Add the rice and stir well to make sure it is all coated with the garlic butter. Incorporate the shrimp, toss and serve topped with the rest of the green onions.
How do you like THAT?!