Senia rice with smoked eel and cherries

Arroz Senia Con Anguila Ahumada y Cerezas
Quique Dacosta Restaurante
Chef: Quique Dacosta
Country: España
City: 03700 Dénia (Alicante)
Address: Las Marinas, km. 3.
(+34) 965784179

Quique Dacosta has always worked with rice dishes. His devotion to this ingredient and the cuisine of the Alicante region in general is such that he wrote an important book on the subject, “Arroces Contemporáneos”, in which he imparts a world of knowledge regarding this cereal, stemming from an arduous investigative process, beyond strictly culinary themes. Ironically, it was only after he published this lucid work that he produced his finest dish: a daring recipe that doesn’t fit into his normal repertoire, with sophisticated counterpoints to the common thread of the rice, always neutral, always absorbent, breaking with everything that is considered traditional in Spanish cuisine. Boasting powerful sensations that harmoniously spark amidst a main ingredient that still manages to maintain all its natural identity. The recipe seems to be assimilated to some extent from the practices of what certain Italian chefs–Carlo Cracco, Massimiliano Alajmo, Paolo Lopriore, etc. –do with risottos. On top of the sapid and tactile purity of the rice there is an array of unmistakable flavors, of unquestionable character. The powerful confrontation of the smoke, personified by the eel, and the acidity, represented by a few fresh cherries, awakes even the most dormant of gourmet minds. And therein lay the magic: that he accomplishes this without detracting from the subject. If the demonstrative marriage of the eel and cherries weren’t enough, an intense perfume of rosemary appears and, for a touch of tranquility, a few traditional pieces of squid, conceived, of course, by the contemporary mind of one of the most important culinary artists on earth: Quique Dacosta.
Without a shred of doubt, this is the finest rice dish produced by Spanish haute cuisine.

The Recipe

Jellied Senia rice in a stock of fresh and smoked eels with rosemary infusion and Vall d’Ebro cherry balls

For the smoked eel rice stock:

  • 6 cloves purple garlic, unpeeled.
  • 900 g spring onions.
  • 500 g carrots.
  • 500 g leeks, white part only.
  • 600 g aloe vera (no aloin).
  • 6 g Totrry.
  • 4 kg fresh eels, cleaned, drained and cut into pieces.
  • 4 kg fresh eels, hand-smoked.
  • 2 kg dried chickpeas.
  • 40 l mineral water.
  • Salt
  • Black peppercorns.
  • 2 bunches of wild rosemary from Montgó.


  • 2 l virgin olive oil, mildly flavored.
  • 1 l grapeseed oil.
  • 300 g wild rosemary from Montgó.


  • 2 kg browned butter.
  • 2 kg tender, spring onions, finely and evenly chopped.


  • 1 fresh Mediterranean squid weighing approximately 500 g.


  • 60 g onions “noisette”.
  • 250 g Senia rice.
  • 600 g smoked eel stock.
  • 10 g smoked eel oil.

Final preparation for two servings:

  • 10 g smoked eel oil (in two parts).
  • 30 g fresh squid, chopped.
  • 80 g precooked rice in its stock.
  • 60 g precooking stock.


  • 3 half cherries at room temperature over the plated rice.
  • Fresh carmine petals.


  • 1 kg picota cherry pulp
  • 30 g sugar.
  • 12 g powdered aloe.
  • Rosemary olive oil.



For the smoked eel rice stock:

Fry the smoked, chopped eel in abundant oil. Once browned, remove and drain well on absorbent paper. Repeat the procedure with the fresh eel in the same oil.
Once the eel is removed, follow by browning the vegetables. Start with the whole garlic cloves, followed by the rest of the vegetables and, once they are browned, add the pepper, the previously soaked chickpeas and return the chopped eel to the oil as well. Cover with mineral water. Bring to a boil, skim and maintain over a low heat, without boiling, for six hours. At that point add the rosemary so that it infuses properly. Leave to set for six more hours before straining. Adjust the salt if necessary.


Place the ingredients in a sous-vide bag and cook at 80ºC for one hour. Follow by setting aside the sous-vide bag for an additional six hours to fully take on the fragrance of the rosemary and become a natural essence oil.


Leave the cherry pulp to set. Pass through a sieve. Place the remnants that are left in the sieve (pulp, skin…) into a container and add 500 g of mineral water. Leave to infuse at room temperature and after two hours pass through a sieve.
Through this process we will obtain 1 liter of smooth, clear cherry pulp. Of this pulp, separate out 500 g to mix with the sugar and powdered aloe then follow by bringing to a gentle boil. Remove from heat, cool slightly and mix with the remaining 500 g of cherry juice.
While still warm and before it sets, move to a syringe, which will ease the process of making drops for the balls, over a cold bath of rosemary infused olive oil.
Leave the balls to cool and set in the cold oil bath for around 12 minutes.
Remove and place in an airtight container to have them ready at room temperature at service time.


Place the butter in a pot large enough so that the onions are spread out and cook evenly.
Once hot, add the chopped onion and, very gently, cook it in such a way so that after three hours it is tender, buttery and has a uniformly toasted color, almost as if it were pork fat.
Once cooked and while still hot, pass the mixture through a colander so that all the browned butter is drained, leaving none of the fat on the onion. This way, we impart a special flavor on the onion, but without the heavy butterfat from what will be a truly refreshing, summery Mediterranean rice dish.


Once fully cleaned, chop the squid into uniform, small cubes.
Set aside until frying the other ingredients for the rice. Do not fry the rice! Only fry the rest of the ingredients to avoid the impermeability of the grain, which, in this way, will more easily absorb the flavor if we fry it in fat, in which case, as we already know, it will form an external layer and an internal reaction that diminishes the natural properties of the rice to a great extent.


Sauté the “noisette” onions in the oil. Add the rice, mix well with the onion and cover with the previously heated stock. On very high heat, bring to a boil then lower the heat. After 8 minutes of boiling, stop the cooking of the rice, straining the mixture, cooling the rice and setting the stock aside for the second part of the preparation process that the grain requires.


In the second part of the preparation, we proceed to what will be the final cooking, with regard to the quantity of guests to be served. We must keep in mind that this rice is flavorfully very complex and, due to its natural structure, should be served in small portions. The magic is conveyed better when ‘less is more’. For this, approximate some 60 g of finished rice per guest.
Final preparation for two servings:
With 5 g smoked eel oil, fry the chopped squid. Add the stock and, when it starts to boil, add the rice. The rice only needs 4 minutes to be perfectly cooked, with a pleasant tenderness on the palate. Do not make the mistake of mislabeling a rice as “al dente” for its organoleptic properties.
During these final 4 minutes of cooking, stir the rice continually to facilitate the expulsion of soluble solids, thereby helping to produce the natural emulsion of the juices and of the rice husk. At this last moment, add 5 g of the smoked eel olive oil to finish the emulsion and consolidate the aromas of the smoked eel which can evaporate through the cooking process.