Arroz negro with abalone, pipis and chorizo

Photo: by Benito Martin & Jess Johnson (courtesy Hardie Grant)

Black rice, seafood and chorizo add up to a showstopper of a dish, ideal for a summer dinner party or any special occasion. This recipe comes from Always Add Lemon, the debut cookbook of Danielle Alvarez, friend of MFWF, chef at Fred’s in Sydney and an alumna of Chez Panisse and The French Laundry.

“Rice tinted black with squid ink is one of the more striking things you can make,” says Danielle Alvarez. “It’s a Mediterranean speciality that feels celebratory and special, but really, it works any time of year. The ink adds a mild oceanic flavour and goes so well in this paella-like preparation. “

“You could go super simple here and use prawns or squid instead of abalone, but if you have access to fresh abalone, this recipe is a great introduction to cooking and preparing it.”

“Abalone is quite foreign to many people, unless you are from New Zealand, Australia or the west coast of the United States. They are also found in Japan and South Africa. It’s a type of shellfish, but it only has one shell instead of better-known bivalves, such as clams or mussels. In the US, you most commonly find them sliced into steaks that are then battered and fried in roadside dives along Highway 1 in California. Even though I lived in that part of the world, they were still a bit of a mystery to me.”

“They are easy to remove from their shells and clean, but you mustn’t skip the tenderising step. If you buy frozen abalone, you may well be able to skip it as the muscle would have already relaxed, but if you’re using fresh (which is best), you must spend a couple of minutes with a tea towel and wooden spoon tapping the muscle to tenderise it. You’ll feel a change in the muscle when it has relaxed a bit, and this will make the cooking easier.”

“The broad beans are optional, but they add a fresh green pop to an otherwise black dish.”


Serves 6–8


3-4 large live abalone in the shell

45 ml extra-virgin olive oil

80 g Spanish chorizo, cut into small dice

20 g minced garlic

160 g diced onion

130 g diced carrot

100 g diced celery

60 ml (¼ cup) tomato passata

2 bay leaves

½ tbsp smoked paprika

300 g carnaroli or bomba rice

½ tbsp squid ink

800 ml chicken stock

1 tsp fine sea salt

30 pipis or small clams, cleaned

1 bunch flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, leaves picked and chopped

60 g (â…“ cup) podded and twice-peeled broad beans

Lemon wedges and aioli, to serve


1. To prepare the abalone, hold it in your left hand and use a spoon to scoop and scrape underneath the muscle to dislodge it from the shell. Place the meat on a chopping board and cut away the liver and any bits that are not part of the muscle. This will be clear to you when you flip it over. Give it a good rinse. On the underside you’ll see a little V-shaped beak at one end. Use a small paring knife to cut this away at an angle. Next, using kitchen scissors or a small knife, trim off the frilly edge around the outside of the abalone. Give it a good rinse and scrub and set aside while you prepare the others. To tenderise, wrap the abalone in a tea towel and gently tap with the back of a wooden spoon. You may need to do this for a few minutes, but you will be able to tell when it is tenderised because it will feel softer and more pliable. Sprinkle with salt and set aside until ready to cook.

2. Heat the oil in a wide, cast-iron frying pan over a medium heat. Add the chorizo followed by the garlic, onion, carrot and celery with a good pinch of salt. Sauté until totally soft and translucent, about 20 minutes. Next, add the passata, bay leaves and paprika and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the rice and mix to combine. Add the ink, stock and salt and mix well until everything is combined. Bring it up to a vigorous simmer over a high heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to low and place your abalone in the pan, along with the pipis, and simmer for another 10–15 minutes, or until the liquid is almost completely absorbed.

4. Turn off the heat and cover the whole dish with a tea towel (dish towel) and allow it to steam for another 15 minutes.

5. Remove the abalone from the pan, slice thinly on a chopping board, then return.

6. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and scatter the podded broad beans on top. Serve with lemon wedges and aioli.

This is an edited extract from Always Add Lemon by Danielle Alvarez, published by Hardie Grant (RRP $50) and available where all good books are sold.

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