I have an image burned into my brain of the hellish sight of scores of gas burners cooking scores of paella in Restaurante de Arroz — a special paella house in Alicante. There, paella are made to order but instead of making the sofrito from scratch they have hundreds of paella pans filled with ready-made sofrito lined up like pizza bases in a pizza restaurant. It was here that we had an arroz negro. It’s a rich dish of cuttlefish in black rice, which has been flavoured and coloured by the cuttlefish ink. Cuttlefish ink is available from fishmongers and speciality food stores.
In the same paella pan heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes, then reduce the heat to low–medium and cook for 5 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the cuttlefish ink and mix well. Add the tomato and cook for 5 minutes to soften slightly then add the white wine. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes, until the mixture has reduced to a thick paste. Increase the heat to medium and add the rice, stirring well to coat it in the paste. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously, until the rice just starts to become translucent.
Pour in the hot fish stock and mix well. Increase the heat to high, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to medium. If the flame or element doesn’t cover the base of the pan, move the pan around during cooking to ensure an even cooking. Place the cuttlefish on top of the rice and cook for 10 minutes.
By now the rice will have expanded
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