Our culinary quests can take us to great extents. Humans have the reputation of eating almost everything they can lay their hands on. I once had been to China where I talked to a local who said, “We eat anything that flies except airplanes, anything that floats or swims except ships and submarines and anything that walks on land except humans”! Probably I did not translate it very well and even the man did not literally mean ‘everything’ but you get the idea right? So, let us today travel all the way to Spain and learn 10 interesting Arròs negre facts. Be warned, the first sight of Arròs negre may make you feel sick and you may feel the urge to throw up. That’s fine! It happened to me as well but eventually, this is one of the tastiest food items you can find in Spain! Guess what? Take a close look and you will find that it is not really that awful looking after all!
1. The Arròs negre is a main course of Spain and is equally popular in Puerto Rico and Cuba.
2. Also sometimes referred to as Arroz negro, this food is essentially ‘Squid with Rice’.
3. The interesting part is that the rice itself is cooked in squid ink, which gives it the characteristic black color and that explains the ‘negro or negre’ part of the name.
4. Despite being one of the ugliest looking foods in world, the Arròs negre has a distinctive seafood flavor which vastly enhanced because of the squid ink used to cook the rice.
5. Traditional cooking usually skips using herbs and the dish derives its flavor from onions, fish stock and cuttlefish.
6. Modern variants make use of spices and some cooks may even add shrimps, monkfish or crab to add a different flavor and texture.
7. If proper amount of squid ink is not used, the output will be dull grey, which by no means is sexy.
8. Many people confuse Arròs negre with black rice. This dish is cooked using white rice which turns black because of the squid ink. Black rice on the other hand is naturally black.
9. While some people do expect to get a ‘fishy’ taste, the Arròs negre is nowhere even close to that. It has a far more delicate taste which stays uniform from first to last.
10. While most of the ingredients used are easily available, the squid ink is what makes the dish really expensive if you are planning on serving a large group of people.
Now let us learn how to prepare this delicacy. You may give it a try at home and when you are done, pat yourself on back for the incredible achievement!
Modern Cooking – Ingredients and Preparation
In order to prepare the dish you will need the following:
– Canned whole tomatoes: 200 grams.
– Olive oil: Half cup or 125 ml.
– Cleaned and thinly sliced squid tubes.
– Finely chopped large onion: 1.
– White wine: 60 ml.
– Fish stock (hot): 6 cups or 1.5 liters.
– White rice: 300 grams (best to use Calasparra rice).
– Coarsely chopped parsley leaves: Loosely packed half cup.
– Finely chopped garlic: 3 cloves.
– Finely chopped red capsicum: 2
– Lemon wedges: Required during serving.
– Black pepper and white sugar: To taste.
– Alioli: It is actually a traditional sauce made using egg yolks, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil.
Alioli should be prepared first. Take a bowl and mix vinegar with garlic. Then add mustard and egg yolks and whisk. Prepare a mixture of 100 ml of vegetable oil and extra-virgin olive oil. Pour the oil mixture into the bowl while continuously whisking. Keep whisking until you get a thick emulsion. Alioli is ready! You may add some black pepper and salt for taste.
Step: 1 Cook the tomato in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until a thick paste is formed. Cook over medium heat and remember to stir occasionally.
Step: 2. Take a large frying pan and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the thinly sliced squid tubes and sauté until the rings start getting some color. This is when you set aside the squid. Make sure that you sauté the squid over high heat.
Step: 3. Use the remaining olive oil cook the capsicum and the onion on high heat until they start getting color. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until they become tender. This is when you add garlic and cook until it becomes soft.
Step: 4 Add rice and stir thoroughly to ensure that the rice is properly coated with onion, capsicum and garlic. Then add the tomato and mix thoroughly.
Step: 5 Use a jug to mix stock, wine and squid ink. Stir thoroughly until the ink dissolved completely. Add the resulting solution on rice and mix properly. Now cook the rice on low heat for 40 minutes. Remember to shake the pan occasionally but do not stir. Rice will gradually become tender by absorbing the entire stock. Once the rice is tender, add the squid or cuttlefish on top and cook for another two to three minutes. Remove the pan from heat and cover it with a foil. Allow it to stand for about 5 to 6 minutes and the dish is ready for serving.
While serving, do not forget to scatter the chopped parsley leaves on the rice. Serve alioli and lemon wedges separately. Arròs negre tastes equally good when hot or when served at room temperature.
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