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Arroz Nero

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Squid ink is a curious substance. Used by the squid primarily as a “smoke screen” to escape from predators, it’s dense blackness lends a dramatic colour and subtle flavour of the sea to traditional recipes of Spain and Italy where it is added to both rice dishes and pasta dough.

The squid I cleaned recently to make Indonesian squid curry came with ink sacks intact. Excited by the memory of black paella I’d eaten in Spain, I carefully cut them away from the body and popped them into the freezer for future use.

Preparing to make this dish required some research. I regularly make a delicious traditional style paella, but I suspected a more subtle approach was needed for arroz negro. Claudia Roden to the rescue! Hidden in her tome “The Food of Spain,” is a black rice recipe featuring squid ink, wine, seafood stock and baby squid, a simple tribute to the sea.

The quality of your stock and wine you choose are important with this dish. The squid ink may look dramatic, but the flavour of your arroz negro is dependant on the quality of the supporting ingredients.

Squid ink like beetroot seems to spread itself far and wide in the kitchen, but never fear it cleans up easily with warm soapy water. Rest assured that ink will not stain your hands or cookware!

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2 large sacs of squid ink or 2x4g sachets
2 sticks of celery finely chopped
1 heaped teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 large tomatoes finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups Calasparra rice
125 mls dry white wine
600 mls seafood stock
200g cleaned squid pieces
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Handful fresh parsley, finely chopped

Squeeze the squid ink from its teardrop shaped sac by laying it on a plate, holding it firmly by the membranes along the sides and running the back of a knife along the length from the wide to the narrow end. Repeat a couple of times to be sure you have extruded it all. Discard the sacs.
Pour a little warm stock onto the plate to dissolve the ink.
Heat the oil in a medium pan, then sauté the celery and spring onion until translucent.
Add the rice, paprika and thyme and continue cooking over a medium heat until the rice is golden.
Add the wine, stir it through the rice, then add the tomatoes, squid ink, stock and garlic.
Thoroughly stir to combine, bring to the boil, cover the pan and reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and steam the rice for 10 minutes.
Turn off the heat, and allow the pan to rest for a further 10 minutes.
Using a sharp knife, score the inside surface of your squid closely in diagonal criss cross pattern.
Heat a pan, add a small amount of oil and quickly fry the squid for a about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Add the parsley and lemon juice to the rice and season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Stir the seasoning through with a fork.
Serve topped with fried squid.
Serves 3-4

About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

28 comments on “Arroz Nero

  1. Dolly Rubiano
    April 12, 2014

    I’m a sucker for squid-ink recipes. This is a good one! Good on you for garnishing it with something green. That was what I missed in my stuffed squid photo.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      April 12, 2014

      I worked for a woman who insisted on garnishing everything savoury with parsley. She drove me insane, but I did learn the merit of using some green stuff to visually lift the dish.

      Like

  2. recetasbonappetit
    March 17, 2014

    Qué receta más autentica…
    Seguro que con un sabor espectacular.
    Felicidades por tu trabajo.
    Saludos.

    Like

  3. Saskia (1=2)
    March 15, 2014

    Wow. That’s an incredible-sounding recipe. Your paella looks seriously good, and I love your photo with the seaside backdrop. The red bowl and pitch black paella looks fabulous and so dramatic!
    I’ve squirreled away many unusual food items in our freezer over the years, but never ink sacks! Love it.
    We enjoyed fresh cuttlefish on the BBQ a couple of weeks ago – so funny seeing the kids running around with black lipstick on!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      March 15, 2014

      Thanks Saskia. The flavour of the ink is quite subtle, but visually stunning. I only ever buy squid fresh, uncleaned and this was the first time ever the sacs had been in tact, I was very happy!

      Like

  4. thehungrymum
    March 13, 2014

    what a fancy pants meal! Looks so fancy & delish.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      March 13, 2014

      Thank you! There is much more colour than flavour in squid ink so you have to give it lots of TLC to make the taste of the sea shine through, a good strong stock does the trick

      Like

  5. ChgoJohn
    March 12, 2014

    I’ve been on a mission to find squid ink and recently got info about another place. I’ve been unlucky so far. Many years ago, you could buy sepia (cuttlefish) and harvest the ink from them. I had intended to make pasta with it but your rice recipe sounds wonderful. In fact, it may be a better way to keep the ink’s flavor for I find that it sometimes gets lost in pasta dishes. This is a great recipe and thanks for sharing it.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      March 12, 2014

      Always a pleasure to share John. The flavour of the ink in quite subtle, it needs a robust seafood stock to carry it along! Can’t complain about the dramatic affect the ink has however you choose to use it.

      Like

  6. Fig & Quince
    March 12, 2014

    packing as we speak for my trip tonight but had to drop by and say hi and bye and also express my admiration for this very cool dish. It’s very New York! love it!

    till soooon! xoxo

    Like

  7. saucygander
    March 10, 2014

    What a dramatic photo/dish! I’m glad to hear squid ink does not stain cookware. Last time I cleaned a squid it was a bit all over the place (literally!), but the result was delicious and practice makes perfect as they say!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      March 10, 2014

      Yes buying fresh squid and cleaning it yourself yields the very best results. Once you get the hang of it, it’s quite simple.o

      Like

  8. chef mimi
    March 10, 2014

    Fascinating! I’ve never had the opportunity to work with squid ink!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      March 10, 2014

      Specialty food shops sometimes have preserved squid in small jars. I buy fresh squid regularly and usually the ink sacs are empty or split and the ink has spilt. It was a nice surprise to find them intact.

      Like

  9. My Kitchen Witch
    March 9, 2014

    Wonderful! Finding the ink sacks must have felt like an extra special treat. We get ink sometimes at our local fishmonger and I’ll have to try your version of Arroz Nero. Have you tried pasta made with squid ink?

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      March 9, 2014

      I’ve eaten squid ink pasta before wheat intolerance set in, hence the rice dish! Big bonus finding big full sacs of ink in the squid though

      Like

  10. Eha
    March 9, 2014

    What a fantastic recipe! Now to get squid with ink sacks still intact!! Remember my second wedding held in a Sydney bistro on a Sunday afternoon. Totally informal, fun and with a tremendoud menu!! [Husband-to-be food writer and superb cook!] Invitees thought it crazy that our second course was a pasta one made with a squid ink . . . . lovely and I don’t think anyone ‘dared’ not to like! Am still laughing years later!!!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      March 9, 2014

      Ha, I love challenging or do I mean confronting people’s expectations and attitudes’s. I bet black pasta at a wedding got ’em talking!!

      Like

      • Eha
        March 9, 2014

        It surely did but noone dared say ‘boo’!!

        Like

  11. italyonmymind
    March 9, 2014

    Delicious I love arroz Nero

    Like

  12. Leah
    March 9, 2014

    wow, what a dramatic looking dish that sounds delicious! xx

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      March 9, 2014

      Yes look dramatic indeed, but the ink has a surprisingly mild flavour. Recognize the background? Xxxx

      Like

      • Leah
        March 9, 2014

        oh I didn’t even notice the first time, but yes, nice one! 🙂 xx

        Like

  13. Fae's Twist & Tango
    March 9, 2014

    – Black squid inks are popular in Japan. It is mostly used for a dish called ‘ika sumi spaghetti’ literal translated, ‘squid charcoal/ink spaghetti’. I only eat the dish in a reputable restaurants in Japan to have the best!
    – I am impressed by the repertoire in number and culinary skills you have. I’m sure this arroz nero is one delicious dish! I wish I could have a plate of it. Yum!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      March 9, 2014

      Aw thanks Fae, I like a challenge and I like to try cooking and eating new dishes. Some I try are more successful than others I might add, but you don’t see them!

      Like

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This entry was posted on March 9, 2014 by in FODMAP diet, Food, Gluten Free, Light Savoury Dishes, Main Meals, Rice dishes, Seafood Dishes and tagged , , , .
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