Arroz con Jueyes or known as rice with crabs is one of the one-pot dish that our family really enjoy. This classic Puerto Rican rice dish is rich orange-red in color thanks to the achiote seeds or also known as annato seeds. Achiote seeds are widely used in Filipinos, Spanish, Mexican, and Puerto Rican cooking. These seeds have earthly flavor and they are really tough seeds.
The recipe calls for achiote seeds to color the oil being used for cooking, and hence the whole dish has this beautiful orange-red color. Another herb that is not familiarly used by me in cooking is culantro or known as Mexican coriander. I need to tell you though, this is not like the Asian cilantro, though there’s some similarity, but not quite, I don’t think culantro is as strong in flavor as the Asian cilantro (though some people say the opposite). I’ve seen culantro being used in Vietnamese cooking. When you ordered a bowl of pho noodles, culantro is usually comes as side along with other veggie like beansprouts, basil, and limes.
Overall, arroz con jueyes is a wonderful one-pot dish to prepare and feed lots of people too. Happy people they will be !! Recipe is adapted from the Puerto Rican Cookery by Carmen Aboy Valldejuli. A wonderful cookbook for authentic Puerto Rican cuisine. Love it.
RICE WITH CRABS / ARROZ CON JUEYES (4-6 servings)
- 1 lb cooked crab meat lumps
- 3 cups of rice (washed and drained)
- 4 cups of boiling water
- 4 Tbsp of achiote (Annato) coloring (recipe below) : 2 cups of vegetable oil + 1 cup of achiote seeds
- 4 oz of lean cured ham (diced)
- 2 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped)
- 1 onion (peeled and chopped)
- 3 sweet chili peppers (seeded if you like and chopped)
- 6 fresh culantro leaves (chopped)
- 1 green pepper (seeded and chopped)
- 6 pimento-stuffed olives
- 1/4 cup tomato sauce
- 2 Tbsp salt
Preparing for Achiote coloring:
Soak the achiote seeds in warm water for about 10 minutes, then drain off water and pat the seeds dry with absorbent paper towel. In a sauce pan, heat about 2 cup of vegetable oil. add in the achiote seeds and stir-fry for about 5 minutes. The oil will turn into rich orange-red color. Strain the oil into a glass container and let it cool off completely. Cover and store in refrigerator and use whenever needed
Preparing the rice:
Boil about 4 cup of water in a pot. Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottom pot/kettle, preheat about 2 Tbsp of the achiote coloring. Add in the ham and brown quickly for about 1 minutes. Add in garlic, onion, chili peppers, culantro leaves, and green pepper. Saute for about 10 minutes
Add in olives, tomato sauce, salt, and another 2 Tbsp of the achiote coloring and mix everything. Add in the rice and stir to mix over low-medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add in 4 cups of the boiling water. Stir to mix again and bring it back to a boil. Cover with a lid and cook the rice over low heat for about 30 minutes (or longer) or until the rice is fluffy and cooked through. Halfway during this time, uncover the turn the rice. 5 minutes before end of cooking, add in the crab meat and let it cook for another 5 minutes. Uncover and stir to mix everything. The rice should be fluffy and aromatic. Serve immediately
Achiote seeds are available at grocery store at the ethnic section that carries Mexican/Spanish cooking ingredients. If you don't want to use achiote seeds, you can use spice like Hungarian paprika powder to color the rice .