“I was looking for a yellow rice recipe on your blog and I couldn’t find one,” says my dear friend Deborah the other day. “What kind of a Puerto Rican are you?”
Since Deborah’s people also hail from the Island of Enchantment, I cannot share my answer on a family blog.
And in fact, my answer — however clever — did not reflect the exact truth. I am the kind of Puerto Rican who adds a packet of Sazón to the rice and leaves it at that. But I wasn’t telling her that! After all, she is a chef, owner of Cuvée Seafood & Grill at The Greenporter in Long Island’s North Fork, a proponent of real food — not little packages of MSG –, and was asking for a recipe to try out.
Kids love yellow rice, she said, and she is right. Mine certainly does.
So I dug into the archives of my mind for the way I used to do it, before I wasn’t in such a hurry to get food on the table. And in fact, doing it the old-fashioned way didn’t take very long at all.
And so, Arroz Amarillo. Experts will note that I use turmeric for color (Deborah’s suggestion, when I reminded her that the color comes from achiote - annato seeds — heated in oil. Too laborious and difficult to obtain for the average kitchen in a non-Latino area, was her view. Besides, she says, turmeric contains many healthful properties and is meant to ward off evil, while achiote was used as war paint by indigenous Americans! Parents with kids in the kitchen be warned: turmeric does stain). You could also use a pinch of saffron ($$$) instead.
Yellow Rice (Arroz amarillo)
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs chopped onion
1 Tbs chopped garlic
3 Tbs tomato puree (or 2 Tbs tomato paste – Goya Spanish-style with pimiento preferred)
½ tsp turmeric
2 Cups chicken broth
1 Cup medium grain rice
½ tsp salt (less if using full salt chicken broth)
Sauté olive oil, onion and garlic together at medium heat until the vegetables are softened. Add tomato puree and turmeric and cook for another two minutes. Add chicken broth, rice, and salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium, allow water level to recede to below rice level, then turn, cover, put on low and cook for an additional 20 minutes.