Provenance of Dish
This is a reiteration of a well-known Greek dish, shrimp pilaf, but this one is based, mostly, on leftovers. I put it together when I had leftover cooked rice and a handful of cremini stems that I had not used in a dish a few days before. I used pristine spotted prawns from Wild Alaskan but it can be made with any shrimp. In putting the dish together I kept its original spicing by adding cognac, tomato paste, and cinnamon and cloves.
Two cups leftover rice pilaf (recipe below)
1/3 cup slivered almonds and pine nuts
1 cup basmati rice
1 7/8 cup stock or water
a knob of butter
12 medium-sized spotted prawns with shells
10-12 cremini stems or equal amount creminis, about 1/2 cup total
1/3 cup minced onion
1 jigger cognac or good brandy
1/2 TB tomato paste
a good pinch of cinnamon
Rice: Do NOT rinse the rice. Put the liquid in a small pot (I use either mushroom stock that I make or mushroom bouillon diluted in the water), adding a pinch of salt and the butter. Bring to a rapid boil, add the rice, stir twice so that every single rice is surrounded by water, bring back to a rapid boil and immediately turn the heat down to the lowest it can go. Simmer for 20 minutes without disturbing the rice at all. Check at 20 minutes to see if the top of the rice is cooked through. If it is turn the heat off and place a tea towel between the lid and the pot. Leave for 5 minutes or so. In the meantime toast the almonds and pine nuts lightly in a heavy small skillet and keep aside. When ready to serve fluff the rice with a fork, mix the nuts in, and serve.
Make sure that you have 2 cups of this pilaf leftover to use with the prawns a few days later.
Prawns: Shell and devaine the prawns and keep the shells for stock. If any prawns have eggs on them don't shell them, keep them whole. Salt the prawns and grind some black pepper over them (Sichuan pepper is great here); add a small glug of olive oil keep them in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Slice the stems (or mushrooms). In a 10-inch non-stick skillet add 2 TB olive oil and saute the onion. When the onion has tarted wilting add the mushrooms and cook to give off some of their water, a couple of minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to distribute well in the pan. Add the prawns and cook until they are not translucent any more. Add the cognac and let the alcohol evaporate. Remove the prawns from the pan and keep in a bowl. Add the cinnamon and cloves to the pan and immediately add the rice. Warm up the rice stirring almost constantly, until the rice is good and hot. Return the prawns to the rice, mix well and serve.
The original recipe, not using leftover rice, is equally easy and the ingredients are the same, but the process is reversed. Also, the original recipe does not contain mushrooms but I use them because they add great depth to the flavor and body to the rice.
Make stock with the shells of the prawns and add enough other liquid to get 1 7/8 cup. Keep the liquid hot.
Saute the onions and the mushrooms in 2 TB of olive oil until the prawns have turned opaque. Add the spices and the tomato paste and stir to mix well. Add the cognac, let the alcohol evaporate and remove the prawns from the pot. To the pot add the rice, combine well with the sauce and pour in the hot liquid. Let it come to a boil and turn to simmer for 20 minutes. Proceed as above, adding the prawns and the nuts at the end, right before serving.