Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Spicy Squid

Who'd have thought it was so easy to cook squid? Straight I mean, with the little criss cross patterns and the lovely curls. We had friends coming to supper Saturday night and, due to the fact we were also going out for lunch, I needed something quick to make as a starter in case we were late back - which we were. On Friday afternoon, just as I was about to turn off my computer for the day, I noticed that the Guardian website had a video of Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall cooking spiced squid - and it lasted less than two minutes. As I had three minutes left to my day I watched it with the sound running low. Amazing how much you can learn in so little time.

Inside the squid tubes there is a ridge. You hold that section of the squid and, with a sharp knife, cut the tubes open on the opposite side so that the ridge is like a halfway divider on the opened out fish. Wipe with a cloth and this will come away quite easily. Then, using a not particularly sharp serrated kitchen knife - table rather than bread - cut diagonal lines into the flesh but not all the way through. Turn the squid 180 degrees and cut more diagonal lines to make cross hatching. Then slice the squids into strips about 3 cm wide.

The criss crosses serves two functions. When the flesh is marinated it catches the mix and holds it - it tends to slide off the pearly smooth outer side. Then, when the pieces hit a strong heat, they cuts contract and the flesh curls into those pretty pieces I've seen so often served up in restaurants.

For the marinade I just used a couple of finely chopped chillies and a couple of crushed cloves of garlic mixed with about a tablespoon of olive oil and some ground black pepper. Mix it with your hands - its has a lovely silky texture as it slithers through your fingers.

Heat a ridged grill pan as hot as you can then put in the pieces of squid, smooth side down. Using kitchen tongs, flip over after about a minute onto the cross hatching. The heat will make the pieces curl so, after another minute, turn them over again to cook the outside of the curls.

Voila! Your starter is ready. Plate up with some peppery rocket dressed with a spicy oil and some crusty bread.

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