|A while back I wrote about arroz negro, a dish of rice cooked in squid ink attributed to Joaquim Koerper, proprietor of La Gigantea at the Hotel Mas Passamaner in Tarragona where I undertook my first brief training stage in Catalunya.|
|The arroz negro in question had already been prepared in a professional kitchen at my previous place of work, so all that was left for me to do was warm it through in a pan with a little olive oil and water. This time, however, I started from scratch. I went directly to an alternative source of that mystical black food colouring - the octopus.|
The strange, pearl-like globules you can see in the photo are the individual ink sacks of hundreds of baby octopi ("pulpitos" in Spanish), painstakingly squeezed from the heads of these miniature cephalopods by yours truly.
|We use pulpitos at work for a rice dish, and they must be cleaned beforehand by removing the ink sacks and carefully clipping off the mouths from the underside, at the base where the tentacles begin.|
|Some time later...|
The ink has now reduced down to a dry, glutinous sauce that binds the grains of rice together much like a risotto.
Finally, no arroz negro would be complete without a big fat dollop of spicy all-i-oli to ripple through the melting heat of the rice. Here's a dish that could just as easily be adapted to a Michelin starred restaurant's menu as it could be served in hefty portions at a hearty banquet for the local villagers.
|Either way - whether presented as fine dining or rustic fare - this is real Catalan soul food.|