Ecuador has a bounty of shrimp and all things seafood. On just about any menu on the coast, and many in the highlands as well, you’ll find Shrimp and Rice (Arroz con Camarones). And you’ll find just about as many recipes for it as there are restaurants serving it.
After living over nine years in Ecuador, I’ve eaten a lot of Shrimp and Rice.
I’m sure you’ll love this dish as much as I do. You’ll enjoy it for its simplicity, its variety of flavors, and because it’s so easy to make.
The key ingredient here that gives the rice rich yellow color is achiote, known as annatto in English. This is the same substance that makes cheddar cheese yellow. But in Ecuador and many other Latin American countries, it’s used directly in cooking to add color and a mild flavor. You can find ground achiote in the latin section of most supermarkets, or online. Look for “ground achiote,” not annatto. Oftentimes the seeds are sold whole too-but it’s much easier to use the ground up seeds, so be sure and get the ground up form.
A key element of the dish is also the rice. It should be loose and the grains should not be stuck together. You can opt to rinse your rice first for a few minutes, but it’s really not necessary.
Cooking the rice in oil is crucial. I like to use either coconut oil, avocado oil, or extra virgin olive oil in this dish, your choice. A half cup of oil may seem like a lot, but when you break it up into 8 servings or so, it’s really not. And just barely toasting the rice in the abundant oil is what is key to keeping the rice grains loose and separate.
Feel free to use either fresh garlic in this dish, or if you have some on hand, try our garlic confit. It adds some extra depth and richness.
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- 1/2 cup cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon ground achiote
- 1 yellow onion finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic confit or freshly chopped garlic
- 1 1/2 cups rice
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock or water
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 pound shrimp thawed
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup frozen or fresh corn
- 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Heat oil to low heat in a 12" sautee pan.
- Add achiote and allow to cook 30 seconds to a minute, until oil is deeply colored.
- Add chopped onions and cook 6-8 minutes until transparent.
- Add chopped red pepper cook 30 seconds.
- Add rice and cook an additional 2-3 minutes until toasted. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds.
- Add stock or water and soy sauce, bring to a boil, reduce to medium heat and cover. Cook 5 minutes.
- Add corn, peas and shrimp, mix well, and place entire pan in oven.
- Cook 15-20 minutes in oven until shrimp are just done. Mix well.
- Chop with fresh cilantro just before serving.