Black Paella, a.k.a. Paella Negra
A true Paella pan is necessary, and authentic, imported Spanish Paella rice is non-negotiable for this dish. A popular brand is Bomba. Paella rice, shortgrained and round, has been developed for maximum absorbency, while still maintaining individual integrity of the grains. Arborio rice is not suitable, as that variety lends itself to creamy smoothness and Paella calls for plump, individual grains. Paella Rice is much more absorbent than other rice; in fact, the ratio of rice to broth is 1 – 4, versus the 1-2 formula for our standard American long grain rice, or the 1 -3 used to produce a creamy risotto.
So, Black Paella. The secret is squid ink. If you're lucky enough to find whole, uncleaned squid to harvest your ink sacks fresh, more power to you. Nowadays squid is sold already cleaned, tentacles separated from the bodies, skins removed, heads, beaks, quills and ink sacks discarded. Luckily it's not to hard to find packets of squid ink, which work just fine.
This is a high drama dish — black rice studded with rings of squid, surrounded by a circle of shiny black mussels. Taken to the table in the Paella pan it's been cooked in, I bet no one's seen anything quite like it, and it is really, really delicious. Black and briny, evoking the depths of the mysterious deep sea. This recipe serves four.
- 4 cups broth: 2 c. bottled clam juice, 2 c. chicken stock
Preheat oven to 425. In a sauce pan combine the clam juice, chicken stock and saffron, bring to a very low simmer, covered, and keep it at that temperature. The saffron will color and flavor the broth. Watch that it doesn't come to a full out boil.
Place the Paella pan over medium heat, slick it with the oil and saute the shallots, onion, garlic. Slowly, not too hot, don't brown, go for that translucent look. Give it a little salt and pepper, easy on the salt, since there's more saltiness to come. Takes about 10-12 minutes.
Spectacular and very delicous — perfect!
Note: An extra level of excess would be dollops of orange flying fish roe (Tobiko), when you want to go over the top. Worry not, the straight forward Black Paella with a sprinkling of parsley is bold and beautiful as is.
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