When most people think about Squid the word instantly conjures up images of mediteranean holidays and those delicious deep-fried calamari squid rings. The ones with the crisp fresh batter just begging to be drenched with tangy lemon juice, squeezed from freshly cut wedges.
Unfortunately though if not cooked correctly Squid turns into the infamous chewy "squid elastic" which im sure most of us have encountered when eating in the local Greek or Italian resturaunt. Or when trying to faithully recreate the dish we enjoyed on our holidays, at home. More often than not we wrongly blame the ingredients when really it is a question of knowledge or technique.
The trick to achieving perfect squid rings is to firstly make sure you have small calamari squid (larger squid are best left to slower cooking methods). Secondly the oil must be heated to a high temperature and thirdly and the most important of all is to make sure that the squid is cooked for ONLY a few minutes. We are seriously talking no more than 2-3 minutes or else it will be ruined. That is why you need hot oil. In the time the batter cooks and goes golden at a high temperature the squid will be perfect. If the oil is to low the batter will brown in to long a time meaning the delicate squid inside is rubbery. The squid rings are then best served with a wedge of lemon, and taste delicious with lemon squeezed freshly over it. Try!
Squid however is rather more versatile than you think! For example squid ink which is easy to obtain can be added to a basic pasta dough and creates a special black 'squid ink' pasta. This looks dramatic plated and has a subtle, gentle, squid essence (taste) running through it.
Another great Italian squid dish, which is my personal favourite thing to do with squid, is the slightly less well known stuffed squid in tomato sauce. These are whole squids with the heads, tentacles and quills removed, filled with a delicious bread stuffing, fried, and then slowly cooked in a tomato sauce. Often served with Spaghetti.
So if you would like to try doing something a bit different with squid, I gurantee you will find this recipe easy. It is fool-proof and the results are stunning! So this is how you do it!
As a useful tip if you want a richer sauce you could try making a sauce in advance, such as this one and then use this as the sauce base and simply add the fried squid and cook per below instructions. By the way if you do this ignore the Passata sauce in the recipe. If you do not know what Passata is or can not find it. Use good quality chopped tomatoes instead it will work out fine. Hope that helps.
4-5 whole squid. If you have a decent fish monger, purchase the fresh ones. Otherwise I recommend you purchase frozen ones, as then at least you have some knowledge over how "fresh" they are. Supermarket fresh fish counters can be quite variable places. Who knows how long "fresh" fish has been lingering on their counters.
1/4 of a fresh white loaf of Bread (approx 300g)
2 handfuls of flat leaf parsley
2 clove of garlic crushed up
2 anchovy chopped up (optional)
1/2 teaspoon of capers chopped up (optional)
3-4 black olives (pitted/stoned) chopped up (optional)
2 Medium sized egg yolks (keep the whites for meringues, for dessert! etc)
4-5 cocktail sticks (1 per squid, so adjust accordingly)
1 Jar of Passata 500g approx
3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive oil.
1 clove of Garlic crushed!
Some salt and black pepper to season
- Remove the tentacled heads from your squid bodies, and the skin, and gently push on the bodies to expose the "plastic" quill which is in the middle, then pull it out. Alternatively have your fish monger do it. Put the cleaned squids to one side.
-Next cut the tentacles off the heads, just below the eyes, make sure no "beaks" are still in the tentacles, and rub-off any skin. Keep the tentacles and put to one side! If your squeamish about legs, discard the lot and ignore this step (but that is hugely wasteful, and im sure nobody would throw them!).
- Ok now your ready to stuff! Grab the squid bodies, open them gently, and using great care, put the "bread" stuffing into them. Take care not to overfill, or they will split, but you do want them to look quite plump. Once filled take a cocktail stick, and gently pierce and "stitch" the open end, so that your effectively sealing it shut with the cocktail stick going through the once open end. Be careful not to tear the skin. Put them to one side!
- In a sauce pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the Olive oil, add the garlic, fry for a few minutes, then add the jar of passata. Cook gently at a simmer and go immediately onto the next step.
-In a frying pan (of suitable size) heat the remaining Olive oil, and GENTLY add the squid bodies, and the tentacles, cook until slightly golden. Take off the heat immediately, and add to the simmering tomato sauce.
-Season the sauce, and continue to simmer very gently, covered, for about 1 and a half, to two hours. To get the consistency you want, cook the sauce for the last 30 or so minutes uncovered. Remove from heat, and serve with spaghetti, or a pasta of your choice.
NOTE: This is also keeps excellently for reheating, or once cooked the squid and sauce could be easily portioned, and frozen again to have another day.
Cook some Spaghetti to 'al dente', drain, and add some of the above sauce to the Spaghetti to coat well. Add some of the tentacles to each portion together with one of the stuffed squid. Best served with a fairly robust but mild red wine, such as a merlot, or a sangiovese.