When my good friend, the jazz bassist Chris Minh Doky, asked me to help him make a book of his favorite recipes from his travels all over the world, I didn't hesitate a second to accept. I knew this was going to be good: Minh would have to cook all the dishes in my studio, and I would get to eat the food after photographing it. And I could use a lot of photos from my archives as well.
With inspiration from the Blue Note school of album design of course the book would have to be square. For the cover I had fun transforming Man Ray's iconic "Le Violin d'Ingres" into an edible double bass.
Did I mention Minh is a great cook? I'm still using the cook book (unfortunately out-of-print) to this day. Here's one of my favorite recipes from the book:
Paella and its history remind me so much of jazz. There are many types, and the ingredients are limited only by your imagination. But there's never any doubt as to what it is. My recipe is based on a long, late, and cordial discussion at a hotel in Valencia during the city's fantastic jazz festival. I returned to my hotel hungry as a bear at five a.m. one morning, and asked the night porter what he recommended from the room service menu. He stared at me and, with an unforgettable assurance, answered, “Paella.” Before long we were deep into a conversation about food, featuring paella. A bottle of wine showed up, and my paella was redirected to the reception desk, where the waiter joined the discussion. They told me of paella's exciting history, which—as far as I remember—began with the Arab occupation of Spain in the eighth century (among other thing they brought to Europe rice and, luckily, the guitar.) It was first in the 13th century, when King James I of Aragon limited the growing of rice to the Valencia area, that the word paella appeared (it originates from the Latin patella, which means “round, deep pan”.) Local farmers mixed rice with whatever was on hand: everything good from the Mediterranean and the fertile land that produced olive oil, vegetables, and meat.
400 grams risotto rice (paella or arborio)
7 dl chicken stock
1½ dl white wine
1 level tsp saffron
400 grams fresh live mussels (rinse and scrub; throw out the open ones)
1 chicken breast cut in small chunks
4 fresh scampi (or crabs)
8 large, fresh prawns, without heads, deshelled to the tail
1 red pepper, diced
2 ripe avocados, diced
1 small chopped onion
1 chopped clove garlic
400 grams green beans
4 tbs olive oil
In a broad, deep pan, sauté over medium heat onion, garlic, and red pepper in olive oil.
Add the chunks of chicken and brown them lightly. Add the rice and stir.
Add white wine and saffron. Stir until the wine is absorbed. Reduce the heat.
Gradually add the stock while stirring. The rice must absorb the stock before anything else is added, except for a sprinkle of salt.
When app. 2 dl of stock is left, add the scallops, shrimp, and prawns, together with the rest of the stock. Stir together well. Before the last of the stock is absorbed, add the green beans and tomatoes.
Simmer over low heat until the rice is cooked and the mussels have opened. If the rice is too dry, add a small amount of water and wine.
Drink: Verdejo-white wine from Rueda (Spain)
Music: Chris Minh Doky: Listen Up! (the numbers Doky Folky and Sacre Monte are strongly influenced by Spain)
Translation from Danish: Mark Kline