Last week, I visited a couple of co-workers that have been ‘exiled’ to an off-facility trailer to work on a very cool special project. As it usually happens between girlfriends, we started talking about food and trading tips on everyday cooking. While talking about Puerto Rican childhood classics like arroz con salchichas, I mentioned that I make most of my rice dishes in a little $10 rice cooker when cooking for DH and me. One recipe/method I keep coming back to is arroz con calamares, or rice with squid. Canned squid from Spain is inexpensive, readily available in all local supermarkets, and one of those items I always keep in my pantry. A warm bowl of rice with squid makes the perfect lazy New Year’s Day lunch – quick, hot, and very satisfying.
These are the ingredients for the arroz:
- 1 1/2 cups of short grain (pearl) rice. If you are using a longer grain, adjust the cooking liquid proportion accordingly. The longer the grain, the longer cooking time.
- 2 4-ounce cans of squid in its ink. Look at the side of the label for what additional seasonings it may have so you can adjust accordingly. The brand I use is infused with oil, tomato, onion, spices, and includes the dark tasty ink that imparts that peculiar color.
- 1 1/2 cups of cooking liquid. I almost always use chicken stock because I usually have it on hand. Tastewise, clam juice works best to bring out the seafood flavors, and in a pinch, half a chicken or veggie bouillon cube will do if you are out of any stock. A splash of dry white wine would be awesome too. (A glass of Sauvignon Blanc or a young Ribera del Duero red with the finished rice would be even better).
- 2 tablespoons sofrito/recaito. Mama’s or the plaza del mercado are the freshest and tastiest. Sofrito is a puréed blend of cubanelle peppers, cilantro, small sweet and spicy peppers known as ajicitos, onions, garlic and recao. Everyone’s sofrito recipe is different; feel free to add any of these items to taste to the rice if your sofrito doesn’t include them.
- About half an onion, chopped. I like soft sauteéd onions in my rice dishes.
I love the color of the squid oil! Just in case, that’s not even half of the ink that comes with the squid.
Place the insert of the rice cooker in your stove top and empty the oil/liquid of one of the cans of squid (use a medium saucepan/pot if you don’t have a rice cooker). Over medium heat, sauteé together the onions, garlic and sofrito until the onions are soft and the mixture is fragrant. Add the squid and ink from the two cans – there might be too much oil depending on your taste, so hold back when adding it to the mixture if you see it fit. Stir and make sure all the rice is coated with the mixture before adding the cooking liquids. After adding the liquid, taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste. From there, just hit ‘Cook’ and you are good to go! Otherwise, bring the mixture to a boil, cover it, and turn down the heat to low. The 1 1/2 cups of rice should be ready in about twenty minutes.
You can serve this with tostones and a side salad to make a complete meal, but for us it was just fine on its own. The recipe yields for two generous main course portions.