Arroz Negro

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I got my hands on some fresh, free and cleaned calamari. Hooray dirty job already done! I wanted to do em good and make something worthy. Hmm arroz negro? I’ve had arroz negro at AOC and absolutely love it. It’s a Spanish rice dish made with squid and squid ink and topped with aioli.

While I was trying to look up recipes on the web I realized I would need to get Spanish rice. I thought about substituting risotto rice (after all I had arborio, carnaroli and vialone nano in my pantry). Driving all over LA during traffic (there is always traffic) on Sunday is not my idea of a relaxing weekend. But I am trying to do a better job of oh I don’t know, being a better cook perhaps?

So I hauled ass and drove all over town. Here is how my Sunday went…

The only place I knew for sure that had Bomba rice was Spain Restaurant in Silverlake. By Silverlake I mean right at the entry of the 2, so practically in Glendale. And far. On the way though I purchased a fresh coconut stuck with a straw from a street vendor. It was the perfect thirst quencher on a warm day.

So I got to Spain and got my $10 1 kg bag of rice and headed off to Surfas. Of course I missed my turn and ended up on the frickin confusing and dangerous intersection of freeway that lives in downtown. Anyhow I made it to Surfas finally to get the squid ink. There were a dollar a bag. Then off to Whole Foods on Fairfax and 3rd St to pick up ingredients I needed to make the fish stock. I was a warrior on Sunday. LA traffic and drivers are very trying but I was determined to get everything I needed and take no shortcuts.

Of course I got to Whole Foods and they didn’t have any fish bones because “it’s Sunday.” The fish guy recommended I used the bellfish they had in stock which was priced at $3.99 a pound. Okay sure, I’ve done enough driving around for a day. I didn’t want to go across the street to the farmer’s market and spend 40 minutes trying to find parking (yes this has actually happened to me before).

I found one reliable recipe online on this blog which is currently based in Spain. The recipe is from Penelope Cruz’s The Foods and Wines of Spain. I doubled the recipe and but used more squid ink because the rice didn’t look black enough. It just looked gray. But the dish is called black rice. I used a total of four packets.

I did a few things differently. First off I marinated the sliced squid with parsley and lemon zest. I would have added chile de arbol but my mom had used up all my chilies to make kimchi. I cooked the rice first separately then when it was done I scooped it into oven safe dishes and also one cast iron pan, topped it with the squid, and baked it off for about 10 minutes in a very hot oven a la AOC.

One very frustrating part of the evening was trying to make the damned aioli. I have a horrible track record with aioli making. I always try to make it in a bowl not a blender. If I’m going to make aioli it better be made with my own hands. But this didn’t happen. I tried twice and both times it broke. I think my arm just gets tired at some point and I start pouring in the oil in too fast. Two cups of expensive grapeseed oil wasted. Booo. I was successful once though a long time ago so I’m not a complete failure.

So I cheated and used mayo and added saffron and garlic. A squeeze of lemon and a spoonful of saffron aioli later I got to dig into my delicious dinner.

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8 thoughts on “Arroz Negro

  1. okay, i know aioli’s sort of integral to the dish,but the whole emulsified fat thing in rice isn’t my favourite thing. also not my favourite thing? the smell of the seafood department at that particular whole foods. it should *not* smell like that.

    enough of my complaining. despite all your driving, your version seems fairly easy to assemble. i can’t get squid ink in packets here, so i just cook the rice with whole squid to get the inkiness. i love the lemons on top, and i’m sure they made it even tastier, i’ll try it next time.

  2. Aw man. I empathize with all your driving around town. Sucks. What is Spain Restaurant like? I drove by there a gazillion times but never went in.

  3. that’s dedication, my dear! i would have substituted like crazy. or just had some ika sashimi. kudos to a very lovely looking (and great tasting, i’m sure) dish!

  4. hi santos, i keep the aioli in its little pile in the middle and dig in for a bit with each bite. no mixing it into the rice though. for some reason that would gross me out. i think that’s the emulsified fat all over the rice thing you’re talking about? i rarely goto the fairfax whole foods. it’s generally disappointing and also way too crazy.

    hi hannah, i’m tired thinking about that day. i did reward myself on the way home with some tacos though.

    hi nhbilly, it’s rare i’ll goto this length to collect all the ingredients. only if all the stores were close to each other!

    hi ellen, spain looks like just a hole in the wall. haven’t eaten there though.

    thanks sue!

  5. there was an article recently on latimes.com about using vialone nano for paella. ( http://tinyurl.com/2jlx6p ) the “expert” likes it better than bomba because bomba absorbs too much liquid and stays al dente; perhaps that explains why your arroz didn’t quite get negro 🙂 also, vialone nano is easier to find!

    (oh, also, i don’t think i replied regarding which latino market i use–there’s one just down the street from me on pico or sometimes i’ll venture to el camaguey on venice, but generally i just end up at jon’s on la brea because they’ve also got middle eastern supplies, or even that big food 4 less near home depot on sunset.)

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