Arròs del Senyoret is one of the great seafood dishes in the canon of Valencian gastronomy, taking its name from the paella cooked for the gentry. The seafood is prepared by removing the shells so that those eating it did not have to soil their fingers whilst eating it.
Like all the great seafood dishes the stock is the key ingredient in providing the depth of flavour but this is of course added to by the quality and variety of seafood which it contains. This would normally include mussels, prawns, Dublin Bay prawns, hake or monkfish and baby octopus. To this is added the rice, onion, garlic, tomato and ñoras, the whole sun-dried red peppers which add heat and piquancy and saffron.
Huge effort and not a little secrecy goes into the making of the stock and in this competition the chefs can use their own creation. As we were to see as we tasted the thirteen entries after the judges, each of those stocks had its own nuances and degree of richness and indeed colour, ranging from bright yellow to deep golden orange shades.
The seafood elements are fried off in olive oil individually and removed from the paella pan to be placed back later. Once this preparation is completed the sofrito of tomato, garlic and onion is made and the dish continues until it is completed.
Firstly the stock is added to the sofrito and then the smaller pieces of fish and the prawns and mussels are added back in. The rice is added evenly to the stock and the cooking period of about 18 minutes commences, during which the larger prawns and the Dublin bay prawns are added back in perfect symmetry and the ñora is placed is the centre of the dish, (or four or five can be added in a ring in the centre). It is ready when the rice has absorbed all the stock and is soft.
The third edition of the competition to find the best chefs making Arròs del Senyoret was held last Monday in Evenser Restauración on the Mas Camarena complex in Betera. The location is the main centre for the leisure of residents and visitors and enjoys a swimming pool, horse riding centre, enchanting surroundings with a big pond full of ducks and turtles, as of course the well established restaurant. It has an ample range of tapas and main courses including bbq´s during the Summer months and VÍ Vid has eaten here more than once before.
It is supported by a number of sponsors including Heineken and Caixa Popular as well as the local authority.
The 11 restaurants taking part in this edition of the competition were as follows;
- Gambrinus, Siete Aguas,
- Mar Sala, Cullera,
- El Ráco de Meliana,
- El Gordo y El Flaco, Betera
- Avenida 2.0 ,Massamagrell,
- Bocadabap, Betera
- Casa Toni, Betera,
- Miguel y Juani, l´Alcudia,
- El Posit, Cullera
- Picanterra, Cullera,
- Goya Gallery, Valencia
Following the Competition and the judging there is an opportunity for the public to taste all the entries. This is where you really understand that the stock plays such an important part in the finished arròs. There is then a gala lunch in the restaurant attended as is usual by the competitors and their families , press, judges, the sponsors and the local residents. This year the menu included;
- Ensalada de la Abuela
- Pastry filled with jamon and baby broad beans
- Arròs del Senyoret
- Copa de Turron,
- Wines were provided by Murviedro.
Following the lunch the prizes were awarded as follows:
- Third place, Gambrinus, Siete Aguas
- Second Place Bocadabet, Betera
- First Place Mar Sala, Cullera.
These concursos are growing, not just in number and in their variety of selected subjects but in their importance to the Valencian Community, its tourism and the part which the rich gastronomic tradition plays in that. We look forward to reporting on further concursos in the next few months.