20 Apr2006

squink1

A seafood paella with squid ink (Arroz Negro) and shellfish seemed like the perfect dish for our “Last Supper” or the evening meal last Holy Thursday. I know, I know, it was a bit extravagant considering the “spirit” of the season but at least it was just one dish, not meat and it served a lot of people. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while now know I have a love-hate relationship with squid ink paella. I have tried to make this in the past and though it tasted good, I didn’t achieve the jet black color I have experienced at good Spanish restaurants. This quest for the blackest paella is the same as my tousle with ube jam and artificial coloring that I finally got right after 3 or 4 attempts. It doesn’t help that some Spanish friends counseled that I should just use the “sachets” of artificial squid ink instead of fussing with the all natural approach…

Following my last post on this paella, a large volume of comments/suggestions came in and the smartest sounding was that I use a different squid or “lumot” as they say. squink2I found lumot at the market on Holy Week along with great shellfish so I thought I was on the road to black paella heaven. I removed the ink (totally black stuff) from two large lumot and thought that should be more than enough. I proceeded with the recipe and incorporated the black ink with my fish broth and poured it all onto the rice in the paellera. At first, the liquid seemed very black but as it cooked the rice again turned an odd and frankly, less than appetizing, GREY COLOR. Bummer. Maybe this is just one of those dishes I never get right. It is incredibly frustrating…

What did I do wrong? Used the wrong squid ink, extracted it squink3improperly, didn’t use not enough of it, should have cooked it in the broth, should have put it in later rather than earlier?? Maybe my cooking on an open flame (outdoors on a barbecue) meant the heat was too intense, didn’t cook for long enough, used the wrong rice??? I would appreciate your comments as to what I did wrong this time around…because if I don’t figure it out I WILL resort to the sachets as suggested! Despite the grey rice, the shellfish that turned a bright orange and shades of red looked spectacular on top of the paella. Small lobsters, crabs, shrimps and squid were tasty and cooked just right. Served with lemon this dish tasted good, it just looked a little grey…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Wilson Cariaga says:

    wow. . . I love paella negro and Mr. MM, you did it again with the additional seafood lobsters etc. . . . I know it will really really taste great, and yeah, lemon really is good with this.

    Apr 20, 2006 | 8:38 am

     
  2. Wilson Cariaga says:

    i have the same problem, i don’t know how to make it darker, also in pasta i have to use a lot of squid ink to get it a little more darker.

    Apr 20, 2006 | 8:42 am

     
  3. acidboy says:

    does paella negra have to have a real black, as in india ink shade? akala ko its an exaggeration in coloring that restaurants do, like making paella valenciana bright orange/red.

    Apr 20, 2006 | 8:58 am

     
  4. millet says:

    happy easter, MM. just got back from a 2-week vacation and first thing I’m doing is catching up on the posts that I missed. you did right in using the lumot variety of squid, except that I think you should have used 6-8 sacs to get paella as black as night. lumot ink also gives a thicker and richer feel to the paella…parang Quink talaga. one more reason to bring out the ol’ paella pan….

    Apr 20, 2006 | 9:50 am

     
  5. ana says:

    Don’t worry MM, it still looks so good anyway kahit na not jet black. =D

    Apr 20, 2006 | 11:31 am

     
  6. Marketman says:

    ana, oo nga, masarap naman. But I do like it really black…the kind of black that makes you look strnage to anyone else in the restaurant that isn’t eating Arroz Negro… Millet, do I need to COOK the ink first by boiling it with broth or can I just put it into the paellera straight away? And welcome back from your holiday… acidboy, I suppose it doesn’t have to be super black but it is called black rice… Wilson, lemon or lime is a necessity…something many folks have thrown to the wayside when they eat paella…

    Apr 20, 2006 | 11:46 am

     
  7. marisa says:

    Maybe it is the rice… I’m not really particular about the rice I use in paella. I was before… but there’s too much in it that they don’t notice the rice. I use ordinary rice in my paella with 1 lumot squid and it turned jet black.
    Although one time my cousin asked how to make it and was surprised I use ordinary rice… no one noticed. Well with the crab, prawns, scallops, mussels, chorizo and everything else…who would?

    Apr 20, 2006 | 11:57 am

     
  8. goodtimer says:

    I once asked one of those selling paella negra in salcedo market and was told they used ink from 5 kilos (!) lumot for cooking 1 big paellera of paella. It’s not just for getting a really black paella, but for intense squid flavor too. My mom cooks it too using ink from 2 kilos of squid (for 1 kawali of paella), and cooks the squid meat as calamares for side dish. This is her method: After sauteeing the rice (calrose) in olive oil,lots of garlic and chopped onions, the ink is added in to be sauteed as well, then the broth follows. I think this is done to incorporate the ink in the oil as well, just as when I cook kare-kare, I fry the annatto seeds in oil before sauteeing the tripe to get that nice red color in soup. I also like black paella with homemade aoili.

    Apr 20, 2006 | 2:01 pm

     
  9. Lou Larouche says:

    Black paella? Wow that’s a novelty dish. May I suggest that you add your black ink midway while the rice is cooking like on the simmer stage? That way the ink won’t have the time to turn gray and also the inky taste is even better! Or simply add more packets of those ink stuff as suggested by someone.
    I just your wonderful dishes that you unselfishly share with us! Keep up the excellent work, MM!
    Cheers
    Lou

    Apr 20, 2006 | 5:24 pm

     
  10. melissa says:

    Hi MM! Lou is right, what I do myself is add in the squid ink at the last stage of the cooking. Your gray version still looks yummy, nevertheless.

    Apr 20, 2006 | 7:26 pm

     
  11. Apicio says:

    I never tried this recipe mainly because the only type of squid available here is sepia squids which gives us brown ink. I also thought that presence of acid (as in wine and vinegar) would tend to bleach the squid ink. However, at least one of my Spanish recipe books suggest mashing the ink sacs in a quarter cup of white wine right before serving. The white wine probably serves as mordant to fix the squid pigment. If I were doing it though, I would mash the ink sacs in a dollop of more olive oil.

    Apr 20, 2006 | 8:17 pm

     
  12. goodtimer says:

    I think this is the 6th time today that I went back to this page to drool at your wonderful dish! Gave me an idea to cook paella with red, red lobsters on my birthday this weekend. MM you inspire so many wanabe gourmet cooks…and tickle so many taste buds!

    Apr 20, 2006 | 9:03 pm

     
  13. Bay_leaf says:

    wow, i have Spanish colleagues at our tennis club and they do an annual paella dinner for the members at the end of spring, i must tell them to try this version.
    looks really inviting, your pic with all that seafood! as usual, nakakagutom…

    Apr 20, 2006 | 10:34 pm

     
  14. stef says:

    my spanish friend makes this with bottled tinta de calmar, which at the last shop i went to was about $30 a bottle! (i think it was about 16 oz. yikes! i was also thinking of a paella negro for Holy Week, but changed my mind as it would get too extravagant considering i was aiming for simple and minimalist, i.e., somewhat “penitential”. this will have to wait for a celebration, where the goal is to indulge LOL.

    your dish looks really yummy, marketman, esp. with the bounty of seafood you’ve got there. i’d eat it, black rice or not!

    Apr 20, 2006 | 11:37 pm

     
  15. joey says:

    Your paella looks really yummy! Especially with all the bright red shellfish crowning it :) My mom uses the sachets…but hey, if it tastes good…

    Apr 21, 2006 | 12:08 am

     
  16. millet says:

    thanks, MM. i agree with goodtimer, i add the squid ink after the initial saute, just before i add the rice. i’m thinking…maybe an easier way would be to make adobo out of a kilo of squid, with ink sacs intact. that way, you end up with more black sauce (the ink “sweats” out a lot of liquid, di ba), which you can then pour over your sofrito. then later, you can simply arrange the squid pieces over the cooked paella. mmmm, i think i’ll dream of black paella tonight…

    Apr 21, 2006 | 12:39 am

     
  17. kusinero says:

    Please send me naman po ng receipe nyan (detailed if possible) one of my frustrations in life yang makapagluto ng paella.pleasssssse po!

    Apr 21, 2006 | 8:09 am

     
  18. rina says:

    MM, in The Catalan Country Kitchen, author Marimar Torres mixes the ink with the fish stock and uses this in the initial saute (she adheres to the use of ink packets to supplement the colour though). unfortunately i haven’t tried the recipe so i have to reserve my personal comments.

    Apr 21, 2006 | 9:41 am

     
  19. Hchie says:

    That paella really looks yummy. About the grey rice, may I suggest that you use more squid ink, because I think for a dish that size, 2 sacks of squid ink would not be enough to make it dark.If you don’t want a lot of squid with the dish, just get the ink sacks and make calamares with the rest.What I normally do when making use of squid ink, I put the sacks in a teensy bowl and mash them well with the back of a teaspoon, when I’ve popped all of them, I add about a spoon of water and mix well, then I pour it into whatever I’m cooking. If this still doesn’t work then I think you will need to use ink sachets. A good brand that I use is Nortindal Tinta de Calamari (Cuttlefish Ink) which you can purchase at Terry’s Pasong Tamo Ext. It is available in sachets and in little jars and from what is written on the box, it’s real ink concentrate.

    Apr 21, 2006 | 10:47 am

     
  20. Hchie says:

    Ooops, I meant batter fried calamares for the excess squid.

    Apr 21, 2006 | 10:59 am

     
  21. lee says:

    is it ok to flash an inky smile after having paella negra?

    Apr 21, 2006 | 4:34 pm

     
  22. gonzo says:

    i think squid in its own ink (eg. paella negra, calamares en su tinta, our own adobong pusit, etc) is one of the great tastes of the world. Love it. I prefer paella negra to regular paella, and one reason is the alioli that comes with it.

    Come to think of it, cooking squid in its own ink is the best way to prepare it, imo. After that, the bar/pub picapica standard of crispy calamares is just…boring.

    Apr 21, 2006 | 8:49 pm

     
  23. Lizzie says:

    MM, I added the ink when my paella is almost cooked. It is really black.

    Apr 21, 2006 | 8:57 pm

     
  24. Zita says:

    I think specialty shops have squid inks in a jar for sale. Try them if you can get your hands on it. I’ve seen them here, but not in the Philippines. Still, your paella looks fantabulous and it looks like it tastes even better.

    Apr 21, 2006 | 9:47 pm

     
  25. madrid says:

    Hello from Madrid, Spain! I’ve been reading a lot of your posts. Most of the time its to remind how much I miss HOME!!My mother in law’s recipe includes tomatoes and “pimenton” which helps darken the color. Here, almost everybody uses the frozen ink because its just impossible to get sufficient ink for an entire paella. Your paella looks pretty good, although I wouldn’t put so much stuff into it. Lumut would be totally enough considering the strong flavor of the ink. Then a little bit of home made alioli on the side.

    Apr 22, 2006 | 2:50 am

     
  26. tei says:

    just wanted to ask where i can buy the squid ink sachets? are they available in santi’s or terry’s? thanks in advance.

    Apr 22, 2006 | 7:47 am

     
  27. Marketman says:

    Hi everyone, I was away for a day or two… yes, you can get sachets at Terry’s. Yes, I think sachets are a good alternative but there is a stubborn streak in me that wants to figure this out in an all natural way. Thanks for all the suggestions re: mashing in water, oil, wine, etc…I will keep trying. Lee, yes, as usual, you get the point and smiling with SQUID INK is definitely a yes for me… madrid, thanks for the suggestions…I know, my paellas tend to burst with “laman.” And for those looking for a detailed recipe I have two in my archives. One for a traditional paella with a very lengthy recipe in excruciating detail and one for paella negra…

    Apr 22, 2006 | 9:31 am

     
  28. mike says:

    hi MM! i had paella negra a couple of weeks ago at a friend’s place and it really was black . . . will ask her how she achieved the right colour! i have also been promised by another friend a paella negra treat at her place one of these days . . . will also try to document that!

    Apr 23, 2006 | 7:46 pm

     
  29. goodtimer says:

    Couldn’t resist cooking paella negra last weekend to experiment with the ink and the procedure to make it black. Upon my mom’s suggestion, I used ink from 1.5 kg lumot squid, took great care to extract the ink sacs without bursting, for a recipe using 1 kg Carnarolli rice (about 5 cups). Initially I put in half of the ink after sauteeing the rice, then added the seafood stock. At this point the rice stock turned a really jet black color. As the rice absorbed the liquid, I added the remaining ink a sac at a time, and I was happy to note how the rice got blacker everytime an ink sac burst in the hot liquid. I figured with this amount of rice, ink from 1 kilo lumot would have sufficed, though I loved the intense flavor(and color!!)brought about by the abundance of squid ink. No need for ink sachets!

    Apr 24, 2006 | 8:12 pm

     
  30. Marketman says:

    goodtimer, you dont burst the ink sacs? Maybe that’s what I did wrong besides not using enough of it… hmmm, one more try when I get back from vacation…

    Apr 24, 2006 | 9:28 pm

     
  31. goodtimer says:

    yes, MM, I literally struggled to keep those fresh sacs intact (which was really a pain in the ass to remove!). they burst into a beautiful inky jet black color upon contact with heat. however for some of the bigger sacs (which have tougher skins) they have to be mashed into the rice, and boy, you’d be amazed at how they generate all those ink! i’m sure you’ll get it all black next time what with all the suggestions in this site. have a nice vacation! i could already imagine all your foodie stories from europe that you’ll be sharing with us soon. i had the best vongole spaghetti in florence. tiny clams in a simple but flavorful olive oil and garlic base. hope you can get those yummy recipes!

    Apr 25, 2006 | 2:14 am

     
  32. Ciela Tanjuatco says:

    I love Paella! When I visited Spain, I was surprised to find out they had so many ways of cooking it. Paella Negra is still my favorite. And I agree, the darker the better. Claude Tayag cooks a very mean Paella with his custom made, 4 feet diameter paellera. He cooks it the traditional Spanish way, outdoors, for everyone to feast on. And it’s a fact that the larger the dish the more difficult it is to cook. And for your paella bursting with seafoods… I just love it. Go ahead, add more to your heart’s delight. It’s one of the reasons I love paella, aside from being meant to share in large family gatherings, it’s such a complete dish.

    Apr 27, 2006 | 5:46 pm

     
 

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