Rice is a key Catalan food and the carbohydrate of choice for many. Paddy-fields are found in different areas of the region, and on the Costa Brava the town of Pals is well-known for the arròs it produces; the first rice mill was built there back in 1452. During March and April, Pals restaurants will be offering visitors special rice-based menus, so that they can try local specialities, one of which is arròs negre (black rice). There are different explanations as to the provenance of the colouring of this plate: some say it comes from the the dark golden colour of the Figueres onions used in the early stages of preparing it; but the more popular reasoning must be that the jet black sauce is down to the cuttlefish ink added to the dish.
INGREDIENTS (for four people)
-400g Bahia rice from Pals
-150g cuttlefish including ink bag
-50ml vi ranci (dry liquor wine)
-1 litre fish stock
When you buy the cuttlefish, ask the fishmonger to clean it and keep the ink bag (bossa de la tinta). Cut the cuttlefish into small pieces. Heat some of the oil in a large pan and lightly fry the cuttlefish over a slow heat so that it loses all its water. Remove from the pan. Peel and chop the onion and garlic, and cut up the tomatoes. Using the same pan where the cuttlefish was cooked, add some more oil and cook the onion slowly until it becomes golden (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic and when it starts to change colour (no more than five minutes), put in the tomatoes and let everything cook gently for another five minutes. Put the cuttlefish back in the pan and add the black cuttlefish ink with some of the fish stock, stirring well. Add the wine and turn up the heat, letting the wine evaporate for a couple of minutes. Now is the time to add the rice; stir all the ingredients so everything is well mixed and the rice is slightly browned. Add the remaining stock and cook on a high heat for five minutes. Then lower the heat and let the rice absorb all the liquid for 15 minutes. Check the flavour and add salt if necessary.
Taken from 'La bona cuina catalana' by Ada Parellada (Ara Llibres)