Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Squid Ink Paella with Seafood

This version of seafood paella makes use of squid ink to flavor and color the rice.  A large whole squid (10-12 inches in length) can provide about a teaspoon of ink that is used to coat the rice.  Steamed mussels, sautéed shrimp and roasted calamari are then added to the rice to serve.

I chose to cook the seafood items separately to give each type of mollusk and shellfish a slightly different flavor.  For a more traditional paella recipe that cooks in one pan see this Seafood Paella recipe.

For instructions on how to extract the ink from a squid see directions towards the end of this blog entry.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 115 minutes
Active Cooking Time: 45 minutes


2 tablespoons butter (divided
1 whole large squid with ink (about 10 inches to 12 inches in length)
2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
4 garlic cloves minced (divided)
1/2 lb. mussels beards removed & cleaned (only use mussels with shells closed - discard any open shells)
1/2 cup white wine 
8 prawns shells removed and deveined
6 cups chicken broth
1 yellow onion diced
1/2 red bell pepper diced

1/2 yellow bell pepper diced
1 Serrano pepper deseeded and minced
1.5 cups Bomba Rice
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley chopped
1 lemon quartered.

Clean the squid and extract the squid ink into a bowl (see instructions below).  Set aside the bowl of ink for later use with rice.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Place an oven safe skillet on the stove top over high heat.  Melt 1 tablespoon butter in the pan.  Grill the whole squid (mantle & tentacles) on the pan for about 1 minute on each side.  Transfer the skillet into the oven to roast for 30 minutes.  When done transfer the squid to a plate to cool.  Once cool to touch, slice the mantle of the squid into rings and cut the arms and tentacles into one inch pieces. Set aside.

Place a large deep skillet with lid over high heat.  Add one tablespoon olive oil and one minced garlic clove to the pan.  Toss in the mussels and stir at high heat for 30 seconds.  Pour in the white wine and cover the pan.  Let the mussels cook until the shells open (4-5 minutes).  Transfer the mussels to a bowl. Discard any mussels whose shells did not open.

Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the deep skillet with the reduced white wine, garlic and mussel juices. Place over high heat to melt the butter. Toss in the prawns to pan fry on all sides about 1 minute on each side.  Transfer the prawns to the bowl of mussels and set aside.  Set the skillet with reserved juices aside. 

Bring 6 cups chicken broth to a boil. Reduce the heat to low to keep it warm.  Keep this pot close to the large skillet since the broth will be added to the rice as it cooks.

Place the Bomba Rice in the bowl of squid ink.  Stir the ingredients together until the rice is well coated.  Set aside. 

Place the deep skillet with reserved juices over high heat.  Add the remaining olive oil to the pan. Toss in the onions, remaining minced garlic, Serrano pepper and the red & yellow bell peppers. Stir fry until the onions are soft (about 3 minutes). Pour in a half-cup of water, lower the heat to a very slow simmer, cover the skillet with a slight crack to allow steam to escape and let simmer for 10 minutes. 

Add the rice to the simmering onions and pepper mix and stir in 1 cup of the warm chicken broth. Continue to slowly and carefully stir the rice as it cooks.  As the chicken broth is absorbed add another cup of broth and stir.  Repeat this process until the rice is al dente, moist and fully cooked (usually takes 4-5 cups of broth). Stir in the mussels, calamari and prawns into the rice.  Add a 1/2 cup of broth, cover to warm for five minutes. 

Garnish the rice with chopped parsley and serve hot with lemon wedges on the side.  Enjoy.

To clean and extract the ink from the squid follow these steps: 

1) Underneath the squid at the center of its arms and tentacles (squids have 8 arms & 2 tentacles) is the squid's beak.  Remove the beak by applying slight pressure below the eyes to reveal the beak, then simply pull the beak off with your fingers and discard.

2) Place the squid in a large bowl.  With one hand on the mantle (hood body) and the other on the arms and tentacles, firmly pull on the arms and tentacles to separate it from the mantle. Make sure to keep the eyes intact.  The internal sac within the mantle should come out in one piece connected to the eyes, arms & tentacles portion of the squid.

3) With a sharp knife cut off the internal sac that came out of the mantle, while keeping the eyes, arms & tentacles intact as one piece. Discard the internal sac.  

4) To extract the ink, hold the squid eyes over a small clean bowl and puncture one eye with a sharp knife. Squeeze out the ink to drain into the bowl. Repeat the process with the other eye. About a teaspoon of ink can be extracted. Set the bowl of ink aside.  

5) Rinse, then clean the eyes, arms and tentacles of the squid; set aside. 

6) Rinse and clean out the inside of the mantle.  You will find the quill or pen (a long flat sliver of cartilage) on one side of the mantle.  Remove the quill and discard.  Set the mantle aside along with the arms and tentacles.

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