Cuttlefish-ink and squid-ink are things that I have often seen contestants using on Masterchef but that never appealed to me. Who wants to eat black food? I don't even like licorice ! Blackberries and blackcurrants are perfectly acceptable but black rice and pasta? I'm not convinced ! It was therefore with some trepidation that I read the recipe card for Cuttlefish-ink Paella in my Spanish-themed Kitchen Trotter box. I wasn't at all sure that we'd like it but the whole point of signing up for the box was to discover new and unusual recipes - some of the ones that we've tried in the past that I was convinced wouldn't work have turned into family faves. (The South African Bobotie springs to mind - apricot jam in curried mince really shouldn't work but it's delicious !) In for a penny in for a pound, time to be brave and give it a try !
150ml olive oil
500g white fish
500g king prawns (optional)
2 spring onions (or 2 onions)
red, yellow, green peppers (optional)
400g paella rice
2 doses of cuttlefish ink
The original recipe called for squid and white fish (monkfish)- I used smoked halibut instead and added some king prawns for extra colour and flavour.
I also decided to add some red and yellow peppers and substituted onions for spring onions because I couldn't find any at the supermarket. I chopped all these up and started off by gently frying them in some of the olive oil. (If using spring onions, they don't need to be cooked so just chop them up and sprinkle them over the finished dish.)
Add all the fish, squid and prawns and continue cooking for a few minutes. (As I was using cooked king prawns and smoked fish, this was extremely quick to heat through but if using raw fish or seafood, make sure you increase the cooking time for it to be perfectly cooked through.)
This was my first time using proper paella rice, which is shorter and rounder than basmati rice. (That's what I usually use though and it works perfectly well.)
Push the fish and vegetables to the sides of the pan, add the rest of the olive oil and put the rice in the middle. Cook for a couple of minutes until the rice goes translucent.
I used a Knorr Fish stock pot so I just plopped it straight into the pan. If using granules, mix it up with some of the water before adding it to the pan.
Add the water (or the remaining water if you've already put water in your fish stock). Mix everything up.
Eek, time to investigate the cuttlefish ink.
It looks like thick black tar !
The moment of no return !
Give it all a good stir for the ink to permeate everything and leave to bubble away for 10-15 minutes for the water to be absorbed and the rice to cook. (If you run out of water before the rice is totally cooked, turn off the heat, pop on a lid and let it finish cooking in the steam.)
Now I have to admit, I thought it looked a bit dodgy at this stage, but tastewise, it was very nice indeed. I'm not sure the cuttlefish ink actually added much flavourwise, but it certainly turned the meal into a showstopper !
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