Valencian Arroz Negro (Squid and Rice)

Traditional Spanish Arroz Negro
A Traditional Spanish Dish

Valencian arroz negro, a traditional Spanish dish, combines tender squid with flavourful rice cooked in a rich, dark broth made from squid ink. This dish, originating from the coastal region of Valencia, showcases the region’s abundant seafood and bold culinary traditions. The squid, often cut into rings or small pieces, adds a delicate texture and briny flavour to the dish. The rice, simmered in the ink-infused broth, absorbs the savoury essence of the seafood, resulting in a striking black colour and a depth of taste that is both robust and nuanced.

Making the Valencian Arroz Negro

To prepare Valencian arroz negro, chefs typically sauté onions, garlic, and bell peppers in olive oil before adding the squid and cooking until tender. The squid ink is then

Traditional Spanish Arroz Negro

incorporated, infusing the mixture with its distinctive marine essence. Rice is added next, along with broth or water, and the dish is simmered until the rice is cooked through and has absorbed the flavours of the broth. The final touch often includes a garnish of fresh parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the dish and balance its richness.

A Standout Dish in Spanish Cuisine

Valencian arroz negro is a dish that celebrates the bounty of the sea and the culinary expertise of the region. Its striking appearance and complex flavours make it a favourite among seafood lovers and a standout dish in Spanish cuisine.

How to Make the Valencian Arroz Negro

600 g Squid or cuttlefish cleaned and cut into small pieces                                                                    300 g Spanish Calasparra rice or short grain rice                                                                                      1.5 litres hot fish stock                                                                                                                                    500 g large prawns with the shells on optional                                                                                            1 red and 1 green pepper finely chopped                                                                                                      1 large onion finely chopped                                                                                                                          3 cloves of garlic finely chopped                                                                                                                  1 tsp sweet pimento                                                                                                                                        3-4 sachets of squid ink                                                                                                                                  2 tomatoes chopped or half a can of chopped tomatoes                                                                      150 ml Olive Oil from Spain

  1. Using a heavy-based flat bottomed pan or a paella pan if you have it, heat the pan and add some olive oil. Sauté the squid with some salt and keep moving it to prevent from sticking.
  2. When the squid has taken on some colour remove and set aside.
  3. Add more olive oil and fry the onions and peppers and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for about 10 minutes until tender and the onions are caramelised.
  4. Add garlic and the sweet pimento. Keep stirring for about a few minutes until the garlic is soft.
  5. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until some of the liquid has evaporated.
  6. Add the rice, and stir to coat with the squid mixture for a few minutes before adding the fish stock.
  7. Combine the fish stock and squid ink and add to the rice, keep stirring on a low heat until all the liquid has been absorbed. The timing depends on the type of rice and volume. Stirring this occasionally will stop the rice from sticking to the bottom and burning. This will take about 20- 30 minutes.
  8. A few minutes before serving, add back the squid and prawns and stir in to cook. You can reserve some on the side to decorate if you wish. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. An alternative way to prepare the prawns is to marinate them in some olive oil, pimento, garlic and salt and pepper and pan fry them on medium heat and serve on top of the rice.
  10. Dish it into pretty bowls and drizzle with more Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Spain and serve immediately.
  11. This dish is sometimes served with Alioli garlic mayonnaise and wedges of lemon.
  1. Spanish rice is different as it tends to absorb about 3 times more liquid and still keeps its firm consistency.
  2. Squid ink is available in sachets from most good fishmongers.

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