Squid-ink seafood paella

Squid-ink seafood paella.
Squid-ink seafood paella. Photo: William Meppem

I love black rice dishes; the rice should be tender but still have some resistance to the tooth. There should also be a crust on the bottom of the pan, which is the best bit.


50ml extra virgin olive oil

1 red onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

4 small squid tubes, cleaned and cut into 5mm thick slices

8 uncooked king prawns, peeled

300g black mussels

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 tsp smoked hot paprika

2 tbsp squid ink

1 tbsp tomato paste

400g (2 cups) paella rice

1.75L (7 cups) chicken stock

4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

aioli* and lemon wedges, to serve


1. Heat a paella pan or a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat, and add the olive oil. Add the onion andgarlic, season with salt and gently cook for a couple of minutes.

2. Add the squid, prawns and mussels and stir through for 3-4 minutes. Add the chilli flakes, paprika, squid ink and tomato paste, stir through, then add the rice and chicken stock at the same time. Stir through and bring to a simmer. Leave to cook for 20 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated, without stirring, so a nice crust forms at the bottom of the pan.

3. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a tea towel and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley and a good grind of pepper.

4. Now, everyone will want a bit of the crust, so at the table, divide the paella into quarters, and share the rice among the plates. Serve with a big dollop of super-garlicky aioli on top and lemon wedges at the side.

*You can buy aioli from the supermarket, but it's easy to make at home – and worth the effort – by whisking egg yolks, lemon juice and raw garlic in with olive oil. If you don't like raw garlic, try roasting whole garlic heads wrapped in foil in the oven at 180°C for about 30-40 minutes. Cut the garlic in half around the equator, squeeze out the cooked cloves, and add that to the mayonnaise. The taste will be rich and caramelised.