Arroz de Choco Recipe from Portugal with Squid, Ginger, and Tomatoes

Arroz de Choco

Arroz de Choco Recipe from Portugal with Squid, Ginger, and Tomatoes
Region / culture: Portugal | Preparation time: 30 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes | Servings: 4


Arroz de Choco
Arroz de Choco

Arroz de Choco is a traditional dish that hails from the coastal regions where seafood is a staple. This dish, with its rich flavors and hearty ingredients, is a testament to the simplicity and beauty of coastal cuisine. It combines the tender, slightly sweet taste of squid with the robustness of spices and the earthiness of rice, creating a meal that's both comforting and exotic. Perfect for a family dinner or a special occasion, Arroz de Choco is a dish that brings the sea's bounty to your table.


The origins of Arroz de Choco can be traced back to the fishing communities of Portugal and Spain, where squid is abundant. Over the years, it has evolved from a simple fisherman's meal to a beloved dish enjoyed by people all over the world. The recipe has been passed down through generations, with each adding their own twist, but always staying true to the core ingredients that make this dish unique.


How to prepare

  1. To clean the squid: cut off the tentacles just below the eyes, remove and discard the beak, and set the tentacles aside.
  2. Push out the entrails by sliding the back of a knife along the body from the tail to the opening.
  3. Pull out the quill and discard it along with the entrails.
  4. Peel off the skin, if desired.
  5. Cut the tentacles in half lengthwise and cut the body into rings.
  6. Combine the squid and ginger in a small bowl and set it aside.
  7. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  8. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
  9. Add the rice, cloves, and bay leaves and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  10. Add the tomatoes and 2.5 cups of water.
  11. Increase the heat to medium-high, bring it to a boil, and cook for 10 minutes.
  12. Add the squid, season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir well.
  13. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.
  14. Set it aside for 5 minutes.
  15. Discard the bay leaves before serving.


  • For a spicier version, add a pinch of red pepper flakes when sautéing the onions. You can also substitute the squid with shrimp or a mix of seafood for a different taste and texture.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To ensure the best flavor and texture for your Arroz de Choco, consider these tips:

- Fresh squid is key. Look for squid with clear eyes and a fresh sea smell.

- Rinse the rice under cold water before cooking to remove excess starch.

- Sauté the onions until they are just soft to avoid them becoming too sweet.

- Be careful not to overcook the squid as it can become rubbery. Adding it towards the end of the cooking process helps maintain its tender texture.

Serving Suggestions

Serve Arroz de Choco with a side of crusty bread to soak up any remaining sauce and a simple green salad dressed with olive oil and lemon for a refreshing contrast to the rich flavors of the dish.

Cooking Techniques

The key technique in making Arroz de Choco is the slow simmering of rice with the squid and spices, allowing the flavors to meld together beautifully. Sautéing the onions and tomatoes before adding the rice helps to layer the flavors.

Ingredient Substitutions

If squid is not available, octopus can be a great alternative, though cooking times may vary. For a vegetarian version, mushrooms can replace squid, offering a similar texture and umami flavor.

Make Ahead Tips

You can clean and prepare the squid a day ahead and store it in the refrigerator. The rice can also be rinsed and soaked overnight to reduce cooking time the next day.

Presentation Ideas

Serve Arroz de Choco in a large, shallow dish to showcase its vibrant colors and textures. Garnish with fresh parsley and lemon wedges for a touch of brightness.

Pairing Recommendations

A crisp, dry white wine such as Vinho Verde or Albariño complements the flavors of Arroz de Choco beautifully, balancing the richness of the dish with acidity and minerality.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. Reheat gently on the stove, adding a little water if necessary to prevent the rice from drying out.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A serving of Arroz de Choco contains approximately 350 calories, making it a hearty meal that can fit into a balanced diet. The combination of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates ensures that it is both satisfying and nourishing.


A serving of Arroz de Choco is a good source of carbohydrates, primarily from the long-grain rice, providing the energy needed for your daily activities. A single serving contains approximately 45 grams of carbohydrates, making it a substantial part of a balanced diet.


The fats in Arroz de Choco come mainly from the olive oil used in cooking. Olive oil is known for its heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. A serving of this dish contains about 10 grams of fat, contributing to its rich flavor and satisfying nature.


Squid is an excellent source of lean protein, making Arroz de Choco a great option for those looking to maintain or increase muscle mass. Each serving provides roughly 20 grams of protein, essential for body repair and growth.

Vitamins and minerals

This dish is not only delicious but also packed with vitamins and minerals. Squid is rich in Vitamin B12 and minerals like phosphorus, selenium, and iodine. Tomatoes and onions add Vitamin C, potassium, and folate to the mix, making Arroz de Choco a nutrient-dense meal.


The primary allergen in Arroz de Choco is seafood (squid), which can be a concern for those with shellfish allergies. Additionally, this dish is gluten-free, making it suitable for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.


Arroz de Choco is a balanced meal offering a good mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, along with essential vitamins and minerals. It's a hearty, nutritious option that caters to a variety of dietary needs while being mindful of common allergens.


Arroz de Choco is a celebration of coastal cuisine, bringing together the flavors of the sea with the comfort of rice and spices. Whether you're new to cooking with squid or looking for a hearty, flavorful meal, this dish offers a delicious way to explore the rich culinary traditions of the Iberian Peninsula.

How did I get this recipe?

I remember the excitement that washed over me when I first saw this recipe for Arroz de Choco. It was a warm summer day, and I was visiting my dear friend Maria in her cozy kitchen. Maria was known throughout the village for her delicious seafood dishes, and I always looked forward to learning new recipes from her.

On this particular day, Maria was preparing a special meal for her family, and I was lucky enough to be her sous chef. As I watched her expertly chop vegetables and season the fresh seafood, my mouth watered in anticipation of the meal to come. Maria noticed my eagerness and smiled, knowing that I was always eager to learn new recipes.

"Have you ever tried Arroz de Choco, dear?" Maria asked, her eyes twinkling with excitement.

I shook my head, not familiar with the dish. Maria explained that Arroz de Choco was a traditional Portuguese dish made with rice, squid, tomatoes, and a variety of aromatic spices. She promised that it was a flavorful and comforting meal that would transport me straight to the sunny shores of Portugal.

As Maria guided me through the steps of preparing the Arroz de Choco, I was amazed by her skill and knowledge. She shared stories of how she had learned to cook from her mother and grandmother, passing down family recipes that had been cherished for generations. I listened intently, eager to absorb as much culinary wisdom as possible.

As we sat down to enjoy the fruits of our labor, the Arroz de Choco was a revelation. The tender squid melted in my mouth, the rice was perfectly cooked and infused with the flavors of the sea, and the spices added a warm and comforting touch. I savored each bite, grateful for Maria's generosity in sharing her recipe with me.

From that day on, Arroz de Choco became a staple in my own kitchen. I would often prepare it for my family and friends, delighting in their reactions as they tasted the dish for the first time. I would tell them the story of how I learned to make the recipe from Maria, and they would marvel at the rich tradition and history behind the dish.

Over the years, I have continued to refine my recipe for Arroz de Choco, adding my own twist to the dish while staying true to the flavors and techniques that Maria taught me. I have shared the recipe with countless people, spreading the joy and warmth of this traditional Portuguese dish far and wide.

As I look back on that sunny summer day in Maria's kitchen, I am filled with gratitude for the friendship and culinary wisdom that she shared with me. The memory of learning to make Arroz de Choco will always hold a special place in my heart, a reminder of the power of food to bring people together and create lasting memories. And whenever I cook this dish, I feel a connection to Maria and the generations of cooks who came before us, passing down their love and traditions through the simple act of sharing a meal.


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