Black food is all the rage right now, from bread made with charcoal to inky cocktails. With Halloween right around the corner, I couldn’t resist stirring up something a little “darker” than my usual fare. I had visions of a bubbling caldron and rich, intense broths, but instead came up with a Paella in joyous celebration of the end of the Summer and flavored with the light, salty taste of squid ink that turns the rice black.
If you haven’t worked with squid ink, try it! It can be ordered online or bought at specialty food stores and mixed into so many things from rice to pasta to bread. It is not at all “fishy,” but rather imparts a light hint of the sea. Be careful though... it’s messy and can stain so be sure to wipe up any drips or splashes quickly!
Arroz Negro (Black Rice)
1/2 pound calamari
1 pound peeled prawns (shells reserved)
2 cloves garlic
1 pound short-grained rice like Bomba, Bahia, Balilla, Senia or Calasparra
8 tablespoons of oil
4 cups of warm fish or seafood broth
1 tablespoon Spanish paprika
4-6 squid ink sachets or 4-6 teaspoons squid ink
Large, heavy bottomed pan or pot
Grate onion and tomatoes and set aside. We don’t seem to grate things (other than cheese) much here in America, but grating onions makes for a fine mince that makes them melt away into the rice.
Slice calamari into bite-sized pieces, clean shrimp (leaving tails on and reserving shells) and mussels. Set aside. Place shrimp shells in two cups of water and boil for 30 minutes to create a light shrimp stock.
Heat a large, shallow pan over medium heat and sautée squid and shrimp until just cooked and set aside. If you’ve got a paella pan, use it! I’m doing mine in a Le Creuset braiser, but debated trying it in a very large copper sauté pan. My thought was that the thinner metal would approximate a paella pan and give me that delicious socarrat (the crunchy bottom) I was after. In the end... I chickened out as I was too worried about burning the rice before it got cooked. Next time though... I’m going to give it a try.
Remove shrimp and squid and set aside. Add a little more oil. Sauté onion until translucent. Add garlic, sauté until fragrant and then add tomato. Sauté tomatoes for a few minutes then add ink sachets, whisking to combine with tomatoes and onion. I added six to get a rich, dark color.
Next add rice. Sauté rice for a few minutes.
Add paprika, shrimp stock and half the fish stock and bring to a boil. Continue to boil over medium heat until nearly all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Add more stock or water if necessary to cook rice through. Mix squid into rice and arrange shrimp and mussels in a pretty pattern on top. Allow to cook for a few more minutes until mussels are open.
Serve with a wedge of lemon and a little Pan con Tomate (grilled bread rubbed with garlic and tomato).
We have so many fantastic Spanish classes coming up at The Chopping Block this Fall! Joins us for: