Spain’s culinary landscape is as diverse as its culture, and paella stands out as one of its most iconic dishes. While many are familiar with the traditional golden-hued paella, there’s a darker, equally delicious variant that’s been captivating both locals and tourists alike: the Black Paella. Made with squid ink, this dish is not just about its striking color but also the depth of flavor it brings to the table.
The Allure of Black Paella
The Black Paella, or “Paella Negra” as it’s known in Spain, is a testament to the country’s ability to innovate while staying true to its roots. The squid ink doesn’t just lend the rice its black color but also imparts a unique seafood flavor, making the dish a favorite among those who crave bold, oceanic flavors. Paired with a dollop of ali-oli sauce, this dish becomes an irresistible combination of creamy and savory, perfect for those looking to elevate their dining experience.
Recipe: Black Paella (Paella Negra)
- 2 cups of calasparra rice
- 4 cups of fish stock
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound of squid or cuttlefish, cleaned and sliced into rings
- 3 tablespoons of squid ink (available at specialty or seafood stores)
- 1 cup of white wine
- A handful of peeled prawns (to be added towards the end)
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Lemon wedges and chopped parsley for garnish
- Ali-oli sauce for serving
- Preparation: In a large paella pan or wide skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and bell pepper, sautéing until they’re soft and translucent.
- Squid Addition: Add the garlic and squid rings, cooking until the squid becomes slightly firm, about 2-3 minutes.
- Rice Infusion: Stir in the rice, ensuring it’s well-coated with the oil and vegetable mixture. Allow the rice to toast slightly, absorbing the flavors.
- Wine Deglazing: Pour in the white wine, letting it simmer until it’s mostly evaporated.
- Stock & Squid Ink: Slowly add the stock and stir in the squid ink, ensuring an even distribution of color. Sprinkle in the smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.
- Simmer: Let the mixture simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked and has absorbed most of the liquid. When the rice is almost done, artistically arrange the peeled prawns on top, allowing them to cook and turn pink, which should take about 5 minutes. Remember, a good paella has a slightly crispy bottom layer, so resist the urge to stir too often.
- Serve: Once cooked, remove from heat and let it sit for a few minutes. Garnish with lemon wedges and chopped parsley. Serve hot with a side of ali-oli sauce, allowing its creamy texture to complement the rich flavors of the sea.
Black Paella is more than just a dish; it’s an experience. Its dramatic appearance is a conversation starter, and its flavors tell a story of Spanish culinary innovation. Paired with the creamy goodness of ali-oli sauce and a glass of white wine, it promises a gastronomic journey that’s both visually and palate-pleasing. Whether you’re a seasoned paella enthusiast or a curious foodie, the Black Paella is a must-try for a delightful Spanish culinary adventure.