Last night we ate a Catalan speciality – Arroz Negre, meaning black rice. This spectacular dish, a relation of paella, is made using squid ink and although I have made this before, last nights version was the first time that i had made it with fresh ink.
We bought some beautiful little calamari in the market and also asked for some ‘tinta’ which is the ink. Instead of handing over little sanitised sachets of the ink the fish monger rummaged around under the counter and came up with a little sac of fresh ink from a sepia, a close relative of calamari. A sepia is a cuttle fish in English but somehow sepia sounds more attractive. It didn’t look like a lot of ink and i was a little worried that there might not be enough but believe you me there was plenty. By the time I had finished there was ink everywhere. Running down the walls, dripping off the sink and the cooker and all over me. I couldn’t believe that I had made such an incredible mess. I have no photos to prove it as touching my camera was out of the question.
In a culinary way the ink gives a delicious rich ‘seafood’ flavour and it’s a very funky colour. Black. Incredibly black. It is powerful stuff. The squid uses it for protection, spraying it a bit like a smoke screen to overcome it’s foe or indeed sometimes stepped up into chemical warfare mode where compounds are released that stun or desensitise the agressors.
We ate this with alioli and a few prawns on top but to be quite honest I would skip the prawns in future if they weren’t super doopa fatties as frozen prawns just don’t hit the spot. When we had finished eating our lips were black and we looked like a bunch of Goths.
It’s delicious and very simple to make so if you fancy a ‘Goth’ dinner search out some squid and ink and try this out.
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic. peeled and chopped
1 very big ripe tomato, grated
about 700g squid – preferably not too big
300g bomba or calaspara rice
1 glass white wine
1 sac of squid/sepia ink or 2 small sachets squid ink
900mls seafood/fish/whatever stock
Clean the squid and cut into rings. Heat a large frying pan and pour in enough oil to spread over the bottom. Add the squid and fry quickly until translucent and just cooked. Tip into a bowl and leave aside.
Put the pan back on the heat, add a little more olive oil and the onion. Cook on a medium high heat until the onion melts down then stir in the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes then add the grated tomato. Let this all bubble up then stir in the rice and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the wine and when that boils add the stock and the ink. Season with a little salt but take it easy as the stock will reduce during the cooking.
When everything is bubbling away turn the heat down to medium/medium high. There should still be plenty of action but not enough to burn. After fifteen minutes strew the cooled calamari back on top and push down a little with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook for three more minutes then turn the heat off and leave it to relax for five minutes before serving with a little aioli to spoon over