This richly black pasta gets its colour from cuttlefish ink, also known as sepia. Some of you may be familiar with sepia as the reddish-brown ink that was commonly used by the ancient Greeks and Romans, or simply by the reddish-brown filter for your poorly edited photos. The ink is derived from dead cuttlefish and commonly used these days as black food colouring and food flavouring. Cuttlefish ink, like squid ink, is rich in antioxidants, high in iron, and produces an umami flavour from its high glutamic acid content.
I was first introduced to cuttlefish ink dishes when I visited the Dalmatia region of Croatia, where black cuttlefish risotto is a popular regional dish. I was far too timid to try the risotto at the time, but decided to redeem myself when I discovered PC’s Nero di Seppia pasta in my local grocery store. The pasta was extremely pigmented with the black colouring, so I decided to pair it with pink prawns and bright green basil pesto.
I was happy that I decided to pair the pasta with seafood as soon as I dropped it into my salted boiling water, because it instantly gave off the aroma of seafood… this was not an exciting moment for me, as I am not a huge fan of seafood, especially its pungent smell. Though the end result was tasty, especially after adding some salty goats feta (not pictured), I would mark this dish down as an experience, and leave it as a memory.
In addition to the scent it added to my kitchen, it left black specks over my sink and cooking tools. I was nervous to leave the pot and strainer with the black, in case it stained and I wouldn’t be able to get it off later. So, I ended up having to microwave my food before I got to eat it, since I spent quite a while getting all of the specks out of my pasta strainer.