If you’ve been around for a while you may have noticed that my versions of traditional recipes, like this one for locrio de pica-pica (Dominican rice and spicy sardines), are often modified to make them healthier, and sometimes some extra vegetables are included. There is a reason for that: I write the recipes the same way I cook at home.
Veggies, after all, are not something I have to eat, but something I enjoy eating.
I read the phrase “eat colorfully” somewhere, and darn if that doesn’t portray exactly the way I prefer my food. Vegetables don’t just add much-needed nutrients to our meals, they also add texture, flavor and color. The original version of this recipe does not include carrots or peas; but doesn’t it look a lot better this way?
I, for one, love it.
And if you need the kick of spicy-hot food, this dish is for you. Humble and oftentimes despised, locrio de pica-pica (Dominican rice and spicy sardines) is considered a poor man’s meal, and a favorite of informal get-togethers… when on a tight budget. For some, it is also a comfort food.
If you’re having a feeling of deja-vu, don’t worry, this recipe has been in our collection for about a decade, but I decided to re-visit it, re-write it and re-shoot it. The result, if anything, is much better now. I hope you agree.
- 5 4-oz cans of sardines in spicy tomato sauce, divided
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 sprigs of cilantro, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- ¼ cup of diced bell peppers
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- ¼ cup celery stalks, cut into slices
- ⅓ cup of peas
- 4 cups of water
- 1½ teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste)
- 3 cups of rice
- Take the sardines out of the sauce and reserve the sauce.
- In deep-bottom pot heat 3 tablespoons of oil over low heat.
- Add cilantro, garlic, peppers, carrot, celery and peas. Cook and stir for about two minutes.
- Add half the sardines (reserve the other half), mix well.
- Increase the heat to medium and add the sauce that the sardines came in.
- Add water and salt to taste and bring to the boil. When it breaks the boil add the rice.
- Stir regularly to avoid excessive sticking.
- When all the liquid has evaporated, add the remaining sardines and mix.
- Cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer over very low heat.
- After 15 minutes uncover, stir, and add the remaining oil. Cover again.
- After another 5 minutes try the rice. It should be firm but tender inside.
- If necessary, cover and simmer another 5 minutes.
- Serve with avocado slices and tostones