Saffron Rice in Argentina

riceWatching The Mind of a Chef, Season 2 Episode: Rice, I was inspired by Chef Sean Brocks careful and respectful recount of the history of the heirloom Carolina Gold rice grain grown with such care his friend Ansom Mills in the state of Louisiana. It made me think of how much we argentines use rice in their daily cuisine.

Rice is grown in the Northeast of Argentina, mainly in the province of Corrientes.  The type of rice produced is Doble Carolina, a mid-range sized grain used and cultivated throughout Latin America.  My understanding is that this is basically the same grain as the Carolina Gold grown in southern US.

Most foreigner’s first guess about rice use in Argentine is based on knowledge of our Italian roots and our love of starchy risotto, which uses carnaroli rice.  Wrong.  Most argentines I know, me included, grew up on the Spanish based dish called “Arroz con Azafrán”.  A simple, rice dish cooked with a classic mirepoix, and usually has added ground beef or sausage, sometimes chicken, seasoned with Spanish saffron.  It differs from the Iberic classic, and each family has its own way of preparing it.

My grandmother Elsa´s recipe called for ground beef, a little extra carrot in her mirepoix, and a few peas.  Something that would shock any spanish cook into a panic, was my grandma´s platting of the rice with a bit of parsley, and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.   Fusion cuisine has nothing on my grandma´s abilities in the kitchen! Click here for an easy-enough arroz con azafran recipe, and get a taste of argentine childhood comfort food.

Casa Mun, a closed door experience

Casa Mun

For those who are looking for some culinary adventure in BA, closed door restaurants are definitely the new frontier. In the last year, at least half a dozen new closed door restaurants have opened in the city. The concept can be tricky. While a great open door restaurant will offer you a one of a kind culinary experience, the wrong one can be dull at best.

You know you’ve gone to the right kind of closed door restaurant when it helps clarify the point of going to one in the first place. Casa Mun is a very good example of the right kind of closed door restaurant.

From Korea to Hawaii, to training with Iron Chef Makota Okuwa, Chef Mun has a wide variety of experience in Asian food. Mun´s arrival in Buenos Aires has brought us a chance to partake in his gastronomic heritage and eclectic culinary experience.

I can say for certain, that I had a five course meal unlike any other in the Buenos Aires. The May pescatarian menu of Asian inspired dishes, was a refreshing change of pace. From a sampling of traditional Japanese tempura, to California-style fried fish tacos and traditional Korean family recipes, the menu was carefully put together, and beautifully executed. All complemented by flawless pairings of “hard to find” argentine wines. Without a doubt, this was a fulfilling and unique culinary experience.

It is a great time to be eating in Buenos Aires. More than ever before, our city is growing, not only in quality but in variety of cuisines as well. After my visit to Casa Mun I am very excited to keep trying other closed door restaurants in the city, and vey tempted to ask, what does Chef Mun have planned for his June menu?

Vote for Casa Mun on the BA Foodies Food Guide, who are currently at #1!

5-Course Tasting Menu
May 2011 ~ Saturdays ~ 8:30 p.m.
Reservations Only

Champagne Reception
Ponce Torres Extra Brut

Tempura Assortment
Lightly beer battered deep fried shrimp and vegetables – carrot, zucchini, shitake mushrooms, sweet potato, eggplant, onion & asparagus
Rama Negra Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Chilean Salmon Sashimi & Maki Sushi
California Rolls
Rama Negra Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Fiery Fish Tacos
Korean style fish tacos with “gochujang” sauce, cilantro relish, julienned cabbage, and jalapeño wasabi guacamole on fresh corn tortillas.
AVE Premium Torrontés 2009

Korean “Bibimbap”
Sizzling rice with 7-different vegetables served in a steaming hot pot with my Mom’s secret spicy sauce.
Universo Austral Finca Roja Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Torta Alfajor Rogel
Green Tea

For more information and Reservations, please visit:

Photo courtesy of Casa Mun