CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Shrimp iPaella!

Fish and seafood meals are a popular during Lent, and not just for Catholics, who are required to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during the 40 days that precede Easter.

That was very evident to me when guest hosting one of East Grand Forks Sacred Heart Men’s Club-sponsored fish fries during Lent over the past several years. Many of the people who partook in the meal weren’t even Catholic. They just came for a good meal at a good price.

I wasn’t asked to host one of the meals this year but am sure a good many Lutherans and members of other denominations have had their share of the tasty pollock — known by many as Alaskan walleye — that’s served at Sacred Heart.

But for a lot of people, Lent is not the only season for fish or seafood. I attribute that to the growing evidence that eating certain kinds of fish and seafood at least once a week is linked to better health.

We like to have meatless meals several times a week. And usually at least one features fish or seafood. Our most recent was an entree called Shrimp iPaella!

Paella is a rice dish that has its roots in the area around Valencia, Spain, and has become quite popular at Spanish restaurants all over the world.

There’s not much of a consensus regarding how this tasty dish should be prepared and what should or shouldn’t go into it. Some say it should be just seafood with saffron-scented rice and sweet bell peppers, while other insist on a combination of seafood and meat such as chorizo or chicken.

The following is a shrimp version, which includes rice, peppers, black olives and capers. I don’t remember the origin of the recipe but it definitely is a keeper.

Shrimp iPaella!
6 tablespoons butter
½ onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 pinch saffron
1 tablespoon bouillon
½ green pepper
½ red pepper
½ cup black olives, chopped
3 tablespoons capers
2 bay leaves
1½ pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled
4 teaspoons oregano
6 ounces stewed tomatoes
½ teaspoon sugar
2½ cups rice
4 cups water or broth
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 ounce chipotle peppers, sliced
In large pan, saute onion and garlic in 4 tablespoons of the butter until onion is transparent. Add saffron, bouillon, peppers, olives, capers and bay leaves. In separate pan, saute shrimp in remaining butter and oregano until shrimp whiten. Drain, then add to first pan, along with stewed tomatoes and sugar. Stir. Cook rice in water or broth in large pot. When rice is 2 minutes from being done, dump in contents of saute pan, plus parsley, cilantro and chipotles. Stir. Let sit for an hour. Reheat and serve.

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