I don't often see fresh (and nice-looking fresh) squid on sale, but when I do I usually buy it. Having squid on hand as well as a bit of risotto rice in the cupboard presented me with an obvious answer: squid risotto. I checked my cookbooks and found a nice looking twist on a risotto, a squid paella using risotto rice from Neil Parry that has some appropriate Spanish-sounding touches to it. The main way the paella differs from the risotto is in the stirring; risottos should be almost constantly stirred, where paella's should just cook down until the rice is tender and the liquid gone, which (hopefully) forms a nice crusty bottom on the paella. Hopefully, this isn't a radical enough departure from a risotto that it disqualifies me from the Risotto Relay held over at the Baker and the Curry Maker.
I had hoped to salvage some black ink from the squid to make the dish enchantingly gothic, but hardly any ink came out when I cleaned them. I was tempted to use black food coloring for the effect, but that temptation lasted for only a handful of seconds before I decided it wasn't Halloween and I wasn't a child, and I should just let nature have its way.
The squid was very tender since it had been braised in all that liquid for a good amount of time, and I thought leaving the risotto rice to boil down in the liquid rather than constantly stirring it worked really well. I had cooked a pot-full of chicken pieces to come up with all the stock for the rice, and wound up mixing in some of the shredded chicken from that since I do like my protein and it made the venture more tasty. Sadly, it didn't form a crunchy crust as the recipe hinted at (I used a large frying pan rather than risotto pan but don't think this made the difference), but it was an easy enough dish to make that I intend to try again until I get that crunch.
Squid Ink Paella, adapted from Neil Parry
- 450 g/1lb paella or risotto rice
- Olive oil
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- sea salt
- 8 small squid tubes, cleaned and cut into rings
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1 tsp smoky hot paprika
- 2 Tbs squid ink
- 1 Tbs tomato paste
- 5-7 C chicken stock
- 1 C shredded chicken (optional)
- 4 Tbs chopped parlsey (optional)
- Heat a large paella pan or large frying pan, along with a good dash of olive oil
- Add onion, garlic, and a bit of sea salt and cook for a couple of minutes
- Add squid, stirring occasionally and cooking for 3-4 minutes
- Add chili flakes, paprika, squid ink, and tomato paste, and stir
- When mixed, add rice and chicken stock at the same time
- Stir and bring to a simmer, and leave to cook for around 25 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated, taking care not to stir while cooking (My note: I added only 5 cups of liquid due to the size of my pan, and still needed to cook for around 30 minutes; the rice was perfect, though)
- Remove pan from heat and cover with towel, allowing to sit for 5 minutes
- Sprinkle with parsely and a bit of pepper, and some of the shredded chicken. Serve so that everyone gets a bit of crunchy crust (if you're lucky to get that result!)
- Optional: Neil Parry recommends serving this with aioli.