What´s your first thought that comes to mind when talking about Spain? Paella right? The fact that there exists a – lesser known – little brother of the traditional paella is often forgotten. Hands up, who has ever heard of arroz negro?
Arroz negro translates to black rice and that is exactly what you are getting. Don’t let the appearance scare you, it is actually really delicious. In fact, I think I might like arroz negro even more than paella. You don´t really taste the ink of the calamari, instead the rice is very aromatic with a hint of lemon and tastes like summer, vacation and the sea. So the next time you are in Spain, you should definitely go ahead and try an arroz negro. It´s worth it.
Basically, arroz negro consists of all the things you could also find in a paella, apart from the saffron. Instead, the ink of calamari is used which gives the dish the rich black color. I can imagine that arroz negro started as a dish for the poor or as a way to get rid of leftovers. Since saffron is pretty expensive, people who couldn´t afford it just used ink. That way the dish looks spectacular even though it might not have too many ingredients. I don´t know if my theory is true but is sounds pretty convincing to me.
The best way to cook paella is outside in a typical paella pan. We actually made a huge one for my mother’s birthday and it was a big hit. If you don´t own a paella pan or a garden you can also prepare it on your stove. To create a more authentic atmosphere I recommend one of my favorite bands. They have really beautiful songs. This band isn´t too bad either. Just turn on the music, close your eyes and imagine you are in Spain.
Roast the fish. Add vegetables.
Stir in rice and ink and cover with fish stock. .
First, let´s talk about the aioli. For a good aioli, all you need is a lot of garlic, some olive oil and a blender or a lot of patience while stirring.
For the aioli:
6 garlic cloves
100 ml olive oil
Some sea salt
1) Blend the garlic cloves. Now, carefully add olive oil while blending until you have a creamy, white aioli. Season with salt.
For the rice (serves 4):
350 g sepia/ cuttlefish or calamari
4 small bags of sepia or calamari ink
300 g shrimp
200 ml white wine
2 garlic cloves
2 big tomatoes
1 red pepper
1,5 l fish stock
400 g paella rice
Salt and pepper
Parsley to garnish
1) Wash sepia or calamari and cut into little pieces. Place the tomatoes in hot water and peel of the skin. Chop tomatoes, red pepper, onion, garlic and parsley.
2) Heat olive oil in a paella pan. Roast sepia or calamari. After about 5 minutes add onions and red pepper and let roast for another 5 minutes. Add shrimp and garlic, stir well and add tomatoes. Season with salt and roast everything for a couple of minutes.
3) Dissolve the ink in a bit of hot water. Add rice and ink to the pan and stir well. Afterwards, add white wine and let it boil down. Now add half of the fish stock and cook the rice on strong heat.
4) After about 10 minutes add the rest of the fish stock, reduce the heat and let the rice simmer for another 10 minutes until it is soft. Taste the rice to see if it´s done and season with salt and pepper. Once the rice is down, let it sit for 5 minutes. Serve with aioli and fresh parsley.