Arroz con Calamares (rice with squid) is a simple paella like dish which is very common in Cataluña, Valencia and other parts of the Spanish Mediterranean coast. This is economical fare, the bulk being made up of rice, flavoured with fish stock, wine and saffron.
Do cook your own fish stock if you have access to heads and bones, otherwise a good fishmonger will normally sell it in jars.
3 fish heads and bones
1 onion (roughly chopped)
6 cloves garlic
2 carrots (quartered)
2 sticks celery (quartered)
a large tomato (quartered)
2 bay leaves
a teaspoon of fennel seeds
a few sprigs thyme
a handful of fresh parsley
a level teaspoon black peppercorns
sea salt (to taste)
a glass of white wine
2 pints water
extra virgin olive oil
Brown the fish, pour on the wine, add the vegetables, herbs and water. Bring to a simmer skim off any foam and cook gently for 30 minutes. Allow to cool and strain.
Arroz con Calamares receta:
800g Squid (cleaned and diced)
500g Spanish Bomba or Senia rice
6 cloves garlic
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
4 tomatoes (grated)
250g fresh peas
2 pints fish stock
a glass of dry white wine
a pinch of saffron
4 teaspoons parsley
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper
Using a paella pan on the largest gas ring turned up half way, fry a chopped onion in the center of the pan (the hottest part) with extra virgin olive oil. Use a spatula to keep the onion moving and add more oil if the pan looks dry. A small Spanish style pouring spout in the top of the bottle is good for this (and making allioli). Fairly constant stirring is required until the fish stock goes in.
When the onion has caramelised a little, move it to the outside of the pan (which is cooler) and add the chopped sweet peppers, with more oil.
Cook the peppers for a few minutes and move them outwards to make way for the squid. If you are squeamish or lack the time, you can ask your fishmonger to clean the squid for you. I left the tentacles whole and diced the bodies, but if they are small squid they can be cut into rings (if you wish). Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper.
When the squid begins to take on a slight pink tinge, it too is moved out to the edge (with the onion and peppers), to make way for 4 grated tomatoes. In most dishes I grate the tomatoes straight in, but here it’s easier to prepare them in advance.
Add the garlic and 3 teaspoons of parsley (save the fourth one for garnish) to the tomato, plus another sprinkling of salt and pepper.
Mix the tomatoes, garlic and parsley and allow it to thicken. Keep stirring!
When the tomatoes have visibly concentrated, combine everything in the paellera.
The peas go in just before the rice, when using fresh ones.
Many people use frozen peas, but I prefer them straight from the farm – they are in season now.
Heat up the stock ahead of time – don’t use it cold.
Add the stock and wine, followed by a large pinch of saffron (ground in a mortar and pestle and then mixed with a splash of boiling water). Give the squid and rice a final stir and turn the gas ring to full. Check the seasoning now – it’s the last chance!
Cook for 8 – 10 minutes on high, and when the stock has noticeably reduced (and you can see little hermit crab like holes appearing in the surface), turn the gas down to it’s lowest setting.
When most of the stock has been absorbed by the rice, turn the heat off (probably 5 – 8 minutes). The rice makes a slight crackling sound and there should be a slight caramelisation smell relative to it sticking to the bottom of the pan. Don’t allow it to turn into a burning smell! If in doubt, poke a hole into the rice with the wrong end of a fork and look to see if the bottom of the pan is wet or dry. Be cautious – slightly wet rice is better than burnt rice.
Allow the arroz con calamares to descansar (rest) for 5 minutes, under some newspaper or kitchen roll. The paper keeps the dish warm and absorbs the steam, so that it doesn’t condense and drip back down onto the rice.
Finally, sprinkle on a little parsley for decoration.
The rice should stick slightly to the bottom of the paellera to create a socarrat – this is a savoury brown crust, much sought after when making a paella. Socarrat comes from the verb socarrar to singe or sear.