With rice crust, the origin of Valencian cuisine

Restaurant Rafel de Pego became a benchmark for traditional Valencian gastronomy more than three decades ago. The duo of Raphael Frau and Ter Navalon opened it in 1986 as a bar for morning coffee, lunches and vermouths, whose traditional cuisine was soon incorporated with lunches, making the famous Pegolino stew a flagship. And from there it all started…

-Rafel, you are already the second generation in the restaurant, and your reputation does not stop growing.

– The foundations have been invincible, a long time ago my grandmother decided that on Thursday afternoon they should serve Pego stew, market day and fresh vegetables, and on Friday they play fidei and fish rice dishes, that’s why they respect fasting. We have respected these customs but added many others, yes, always staying true to the Valencia recipe book, our lands in the Marina and what nature offers us in each season of the year.

-Obviously, there is a turning point after your culinary training and joining the company

– There is no doubt that training always adds up. In recent years, there are countless original recipes that we have included, and above all, the constant search for local producers, something that later always turns into a plate. Another important chapter with which we give a distinctive character to what is served is our wine cellar, where we can find selected references from all over the Valencian community, with a special dedication to signature wines. And the latter makes it available to diners, always with respectable prices that facilitate gastronomic enjoyment. In the catering and lunch department, we prepare and serve countless highlights of our gastronomy, such as pork and other products made from skin, dacha kooks with their various fillings or a wide variety of salted meats,

– The rice cooker became one of your main bets.

– We grew up next to the Pego-Oliva marsh, the second enclave of rice production in Valencia, this makes Pego one of the regional capitals of rice preparation and, as you know, beyond paella, they introduce us to baked rice and especially rice. The skin. Historically, this is considered the oldest rice recipe in Spain, as its recipe appears in the Llibre del Coch by the Valencian Ruperto de Nola, written no less than the mid-15th century. Here in Pego, it was and is rice that housewives prepared for their husbands to take with them during long days of work in the fields. Cooked in clay pots, they were wrapped in linen and kept unusually warm. And the scab helped…

– Let’s see about the crust, what is the traditional recipe for this baked rice?

– The ingredients start with chicken, chicken, pork ribs (previously fried) and a pea-based broth. With these olives, the rice is lightly browned in olive oil, along with a head of garlic and some chopped red pepper and grated ripe tomatoes. The clay pot is filled with all the ingredients, meat, rice and some onion blood sausages. The oven at a temperature of about 200 degrees and allowed to boil, which happens after a quarter of an hour. The crust is made by beating eggs with salt, they are poured over the pot as soon as the rice appears. It will be ready in another fifteen minutes. Just a secret: two servings of broth for the rice. Remember that although we make it every week, Rice Day is the last day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent and is definitely a juicy, fun and carnival way to say goodbye to Christian penance.

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