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A jambalaya is similar to a Spanish paella. This funny word itself is derived from the Spanish "jamón" - which means Ham. Jambalaya is a "creole" dish - i.e. originating in the American south of Louisiana - near New Orleans - and is a fusion of French, Spanish, Italian and African influences. Probably dating from sometime in the 1700s.
The Spanish influence arises from the fact that the Louisiana territory was traded to Spain in 1763. The Spanish contributions to Creole cuisine include mixing and meat in one dish, hence the Shrimp (prawn) and Sausage jambalaya!
Here is the Route79 method of cooking this really tasty dish!
For the part you will need 250g packet of raw prawns (shrimps). Go for the extra large ones. I know these are expensive - but if you hunt around the freezer section in Tesco you will find something called "Extra large Oz banana prawns" - these are £5 for the packet - and are bigger than tiger prawns - and best of all they are raw and they have had their tails left on! make sure you rapid-thaw the frozen shrimps when you get them home - by running cold water over them in the sink for around 15 mins.
And then the rest of the ingredients are:
- 1 medium onion - sliced into 5 cm long pieces
- 1 large green pepper - chopped to a similar size
- 2 sticks of celery - chopped similarly - but on the diagonal
- some pulped chunks of garlic and ginger from your freezer
- a chicken stock cube
- 2 or 3 medium tomatoes - finely chopped
- som peri-peri sauce - or Creole sauce - or Tabasco - whatever you like to give the spicy kick
- some chopped flat-leaf parsley
- and 1 mug of washed rice (preferably basmati rice)
So - here goes:
The first thing to do is to cook the prawns. Whatever you do - don't overdo them! Bring a small pan of water to the boil and throw the raw prawns in - simmer them for 3 minutes only - and then take them out - draine them and set them to one side - they will added to the finished dish right at the end. Leave the shell tails on - it makes the final dish look really nice.
Then prepare the chicken stock - use exactly twice the amount of water than you have of the rice - boil it - and add the crushed cube until all of it has dissolved. rind in some black pepper - and also add to the stock your spicy sauce. Keep this stock to one side.
Then get a decent sized frying pan or wok - something which has a lid - and light the flame underneath it on high. Throw in the chorizo Sausage pieces - no oil needed - and stir them about until they start to fry in their own oil.
After a few mins of frying the Sausage - pour them onto absorbent kitchen paper - and set to one side. Using the same pan - add some vegetable oil (I use sunflower) and fry the onions until they soften a little.
Then turn the flame down a bit - and add the pulped garlic and ginger - at this point the aroma in your kitchen will be simply heavenly. After a few mins of stir-frying - add the celery pieces and continue to stir-fry. You should be really enjoying it by now!
When the rice is well stirred - add the stock liquid - and turn up the flame until the pot reaches the boil. Throw in the chopped tomato and bay leaves at this point - making sure that the boiling is relatively fierce.
Then put the lid on the pot - and turn down the flame to the lowest possible you can get it. The rice will cook in the steam for about 20 mins.
Whatever you do - DO NOT TAKE THE LID OFF THE PAN WHILST THE rice IS COOKING! I know that you might be tempted - just to see how it's doing - but please don't - every bit of steam is necessary for a perfect finish. If you take the lid off you will get imperfect rice! After 20 mins - take the lid off and throw in the cooked prawns. Stir them around in the rice mixture gently - only 2 or three turns of the spoon! Then put the lid back on - and let the rice rest for 5 mins.
After five mins - you are ready to serve! Sprinkle the parsley and spring Onion on top of the mixture in the pot - and stir gently. Serve up on a plate for you and your partner - and eat! (If you want it extra spicy - splash on some Tabasco over your plate.) I recommend a glass of chilled sparkling white wine to go with this - in fact Spanish Cava is perfect - and you can get hold of it really cheap from your local Safeway/Tesco/whatever.
Recipe by Route 79 Edit
From London: By a British, European, 2nd-Generation Indian. Probably confused - but proud to be them all! Half of my journey to and from work is a 20-30 minute bus ride: London Bus Route 79 - between Alperton in West London and Kingsbury in North West London. I very frequently get pissed-off and frustrated waiting around in the DARK, WET and COLD - waiting for the 79 to turn up. But I have to be eternally grateful for the quality thinking time I get to myself.