Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –
While I was at Matshisa, LA in Oct 2009, I had an omakase offering of the brown rice paella, presented in a tobanyaki dish. The online recipe can be found here –
I should note that there appears to be a mistake in the recipe; I believe the amounts of the rice vs the dashi are reversed. In fact, I believe the amount of (brown) rice to dashi should be 12 oz of rice to 30 oz of dashi. I needed to rely on Iron Chef Morimoto’s instruction about how long to soak rice since the recipe didn’t mention the amount of soaking time; so I soaked the rice for about an hour.
I couldn’t get morels or porcini’s tonight, so I substituted in button mushrooms. Because of my wife’s recent ACL injury, the physician warned me off of serving her the beans, peas and saffron. So going to my copy of The Catalan Country Kitchen (by Marimar Torres), I swapped in non-green bell peppers (cut into thin lengthwise strips – see p. 111). It’s interesting to note that Nobu’s “paella” is cooked in “…flameproof heavy earthenware pot…” (aka donabe?). Marimar Torres writes that,
…the cassola, a shallow earthenware casserole…originated in Catalunya, and is the precursor of the iron paella pan…is widely used for the kind of rice dishes that would be cooked in a paella pan and invariably be called paella rather than arroz a la cassola….Because the cassola is deeper than a paella pan, the rice cooks a little differently- it takes longer and is usually less dry. In fact in Valencia, they call this “soupy” rice. (p. 106)
When I went to make this dish, my wife accidentally soaked 4 oz more of the brown rice instead of 12; so I had to increase the amount of dashi to 40 oz (5 cups) [and as it would turn out, the rice did appear to be ‘soupy’ upon completion]. So I got 1/2 lb of mahi mahi which I cut up into 12 pieces, 6 cleaned squid bodies that I cut into rings, 4 nice big divers scallops and 4 U10 shrimp (shell on) from Whole Foods. I sliced up about 1/2 lb of button mushrooms and a red, yellow and orange bell peppers into strips.
Into my big wide stew pot went the rice, peppers, mushrooms
and then topped with the seafood.
The 5 cups of dashi was added and then I sprinkled in 1 1/4 teaspoons of saffron and then 1/2 teaspoon of 4:1 salt/pepper mix. The pot was brought to a boil and then reduced to 50% max power to cook fr about 10 minutes, then lowered yet again to low to cook for a further 10 minutes. Then I turned the heat up to maximum for about 30 seconds and shut it off to sit for a last 10 minute period.
When I uncovered the paella, it was indeed soupy as Marimar Torres indicated it would be. Remembering that I had the paella served to me in a hot toban at Matsuhisa, I also had heated up toban plates at 425 degrees for 30 minutes in my countertop oven. Once I got the tobans out, I portioned out the paella into the scalding hot toban plates and watched the liquid sizzle, bubble and evaporate off the paella.
…and what did I do with the baby carrots? I roasted them at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with 2 3-fingered pinches of 4:1 salt/pepper mix. The carrots were served as a side to the paella with sauce cups of Nobu jalapeno and spicy lemon
dressings (a roasting variant of the Steamed Spring Vegetable Medleys in Nobu West, p. 153). My wife loved the fact she could choose which sauce to use for each bite of the roasted carrots. She also indicated the paella compared favorably with her memory of the paella that we had at Matsuhisa, LA. One of the things I noticed this time is that all of the seafood cooked up beautifully tender. Matsuhisa-sama – thank you very much for sharing the recipe.