Spanish black rice paella (arroz nego/arròs negre) gets it’s vibrant color from squid ink, but the flavor is delicate. Packed with seafood, it’s a delicious meal.
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If you are a regular here, you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that when I saw today’s theme for Fish Friday Foodies was paella, I was pretty happy. Spanish food is always a favorite, and not just for me. The only decision was what kind to make. I decided to go for one of the more unusual versions, arroz negro.
That said, pretty much any place that serves paella in the Valencia or Catalunya regions of Spain will serve a version of this Spanish black rice paella (arròs negre in Valencian/Catalan). While it might look as if it’s going to be strong flavored with such a potent black color, in actual fact it’s pretty mellow. And thoroughly delicious.
While I have made paella quite a number of times, for some reason I haven’t shared a version here. I’ve shared fideua, the short spaghetti version, but not an actual paella.
Arroz negro is sometimes called paella negra although some would argue it’s technically not a paella. Whatever your view, it’s a tasty seafood-packed rice dish.
How is paella different from risotto?
The basic process of paellas is similar to risotto, if you are more familiar with that. The big thing that distinguishes a paella is that after you add the stock, you don’t stir it. This can mean that you get a crust of rice stuck to the bottom, but actually this is often the bit that’s most fought over.
While arròs negre/arroz negro follows the same general process, I think it’s mainly the fact you add squid ink (which adds the color) and makes it a bit wetter which is why it’s not normally considered a paella as such.
How to make arroz negro/arròs negre
With most seafood paellas, I would cook the seafood in the stock towards the end of the rice cooking, but here they would end up completely black so instead they are cooked first in oil and added back at the end.
After cooking the squid and shrimp/prawns, you cook the onion, pepper and garlic until soft. Add the rice, cook a little so that it becomes coated in the oil, deglaze the pan with a little white wine then add the stock and squid ink. Simmer, without stirring, until the stock is absorbed and rice is cooked then add the squid and seafood to the top to warm through.
Arroz negro/arròs negre is a Spanish/Valencian classic. While it might look a little scary from the color, this Spanish black rice paella is actually delicately flavored, but oh so good. It might even be my new favorite paella and is definitely one we’ll be having again. It might even give me an excuse to get a paella pan…
Try these other favorite Spanish seafood recipes:
- Catalan fish stew (romesco de peix)
- Salt cod stuffed piquillo peppers
- Gambas al ajillo (Spanish garlic shrimp)
- Plus get many more Spanish recipes and seafood recipes in the archives.
Spanish black rice paella (arroz negro/arròs negre)
- 4 tbsp olive oil , divided
- 7 oz shelled shrimp/prawns 200g
- 1 lb squid/calamari 450g, sliced
- 1 onion medium, finely diced
- 1/2 green pepper large (or 1 small), finely diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic , crushed/finely diced
- 1 cup arborio rice 200g (or calasparra if you can get it)
- 1/4 cup white wine 60ml
- 1 tbsp squid ink
- 1 tsp tomato paste/tomato puree
- 2 1/4 cups fish stock 540ml
- Warm 3tbsp of the oil in a paella pan or medium skillet/frying pan over a medium-high heat. Fry the shrimp/prawns then the squid in batches, cooking just a minute at the most each side so the shrimp go pink and squid becomes opaque. Remove them as they are done with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Once done, add the remaining oil and add the onion and pepper to the pan. Cook a few minutes until the onion is translucent, reducing the heat if necessary so the onion doesn't burn. Add the garlic part way through.
- Once the onion and pepper are softened, add the rice and cook a couple minutes, stirring so it is well coated with the oil. Add the wine and use it to deglaze the pan (scrape away all the tastiness from the bottom of the pan!). Add the squid ink, tomato puree and stock and stir to mix through. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat slightly. Leave to simmer for around 15min or more until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked.
- Serve with wedges of lemon and, if you have it, aioli.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline’s Cooking Amazon store.
See all the other paella ideas:
- Chicken, Sausage and Shrimp Paella from Cookaholic Wife
- Easy Mixed Paella from Food Lust People Love
- Paella Bogavante from Palatable Pastime
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