Tag Archives: Cuttlefish

TAGLIOLINI CU SUCU RI SICCI –TAGLIERINI COL SUGO DI SEPPIE (Pasta with a cuttlefish sauce and carrot and potato)

Calamari is the Italian word for squid and it refers to those species of squid with long side fins; those with relatively shorter side fins are seppie (cuttlefish).

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Calamari, cuttlefish and squid

This recipe is for seppie (ink fish) , but  squid is much easier to buy in Australia although the two species are sometimes sold interchangeably and sold as calamari.  They are found right around the Australian coast and are available year round.

Commercially they are wild-caught mainly by seafloor trawling and many end up as by catch in nets. Squid jags are a favourite with recreational fishers. They generally are a fast growing species and for this reason are considered sustainable.

In Australia squid was once only used for bait and be very cheaply priced, but unfortunately, too many people have come to appreciate it and the price has gone up significantly.

Many of the rings and tubes sold are imported. There is also local product and this may not have been frozen, but the flesh can be tough – usually they are from much bigger squids than I would generally buy. Unfortunately the tentacles (very tasty) are generally removed for easier processing and packing in ice, ready for export.

I am very spoiled when I buy squid  from my fish vendor at Happy Tuna in the Queen Victoria Market where I shop.  It is so fresh that it could easily be eaten raw or needs very little cooking. My favourite vendors always select for me small and medium sized squid, which they know I prefer. The photo is from the fish market in Siracusa, Sicilia and it shows the common size for squid sold in Italy.

This recipe is a wet pasta dish – a common consistency for Sicilian soups which generally contain a large amount of pasta. What I like about this recipe (from Mazara del Vallo, on the west coast of Sicily) is the addition of carrot and potato – two very popular ingredients in Australia, but not so popular in pasta dishes in Sicily.  The squid used are young, small cuttlefish or squid – the smaller ones are considered more tender.

In the original recipe the taglierini (fresh pasta cut into thin strips, tagghiarini is the Sicilian term). These are made without eggs, perhaps this was once due to poverty or scarcity, rather than choice, but the practice of making pasta without eggs In Sicily has remained. If buying commercially made pasta, use thin ribbon pasta. (When the pasta is coiled like in the photo, the shapes are sometimes called nidi – nests of pasta.)

 

INGREDIENTS
taglierini, 600g
squid or cuttlefish, 1.5kg
carrot, 1 diced (small)
potato, 1 diced (small)
onion, 1 chopped finely
extra virgin olive oil, 1 cup
white wine, ½ cup (optional)
red tomatoes, 500g, peeled and chopped
garlic, 2 cloves, chopped
parsley, 1 cup cut finely
basil, 7-10 leaves
salt
chili flakes and/or grated pecorino (optional) to taste.

PROCESSES

Sauté the onion in ½ cup of oil, add the potato and carrot and when the ingredients begin to brown add the garlic. Add the tomatoes, a little salt, and the parsley and over medium evaporate some of the juices.  Check that the potatoes and carrots are cooked and if they are not, add some liquid (water or wine) and cook for a little longer and do not drain.
Cook the pasta.
Sauté the squid in ½ cup of oil – use a separate, wide fry pan (it cannot be overcrowded or it will stew). Toss the squid around in the pan on high heat for a few minutes, add a little salt, wine and seasoning and evaporate.
Add the squid to the vegetable mixture.
Combine the pasta with the sauce. Add the basil leaves and serve.
Sprinkle with chili flakes and/or grated cheese.
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SEPPIE IN UMIDO CON POLENTA (Cuttlefish or Squid With Black Ink And Polenta from Trieste)

In Australia squid and cuttlefish is often sold interchangeably.
Both squid and cuttlefish have the potential to contain ink sacs in their bodies, but cuttlefish seems to contain more ink and is preferred for ‘black ink’ dishes in Italy, especially in coastal towns around the Adriatic.  As you can see in the photo seppie are often covered with ink when they are sold.

Squid can be as well, but rarely have I seen this in Australia (we like things clean and white!)

This photo was taken by my nephew very recently in the fish market in Venice. They are seppie (cuttlefish).  Fresche means fresh, senza sabbia means without sand in Italian.

If you have ever cleaned squid or cuttlefish you may have found a pea like swelling filled with black ink in some of the cavities, but some come with an empty ink bladder. If you have ever fished for squid, the moment you try to lift them out of the water, most squid will squirt a cloud of dark brown ink in their attempt to get away.

The ink is not harmful to eat (It was once used as the artist’s pigment, sepia).

You may need to buy ink separately – you will need 3-6 ink sacs for this recipe.

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In Venice and in Trieste seppie are cooked in umido (braised) in wine and in their own ink and served with polenta (a very popular dish). As a child living in Trieste this was my favourite dish, especially when served with left over fried polenta. In Triestino (dialect from Trieste) they are called sepe in umido co la polenta –this dish is still very popular in the trattorie in Trieste, many of them are found in Trieste vecchia (the old part of Trieste).

The seppie in umido become the dressing for the polenta (popular in the north of Italy, by many eaten more often than pasta and preferred to pasta).

INGREDIENTS
cuttlefish or squid, 2k
white onion, sliced thinly
parsley, ½ bunch, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
garlic, 2 cloves, chopped
extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup
dry white wine, ¾ cup

 

PROCESSES

Clean cuttlefish or squid: discard the eyes and beaks, separate heads from bodies and, cut off tentacles and set aside. Pull out hard transparent cartilage from bodies and discard. Cut bodies lengthwise to open and carefully remove the ink sacs and set aside. Remove and discard entrails. Rinse cuttlefish or squid under cold running water.
Slice fish and tentacles into large strips (they will shrink).
Heat oil in a large pan with lid over medium heat.
Add onions and garlic and sauté till golden. Add cuttlefish and reserved tentacles and sauté, add parsley and keep on stirring for about 10 mins.
Add wine and evaporate for a few minutes.
Mix the ink sacs in ½ cup of water, press on the ink sacs with the back of a spoon on the side of the cup to break the skin and release the black ink.
Add the water and ink to the braise.
Cover the pan, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until fish is very tender for about 30 mins.
If there is too much liquid, uncover pan for the last 5 minutes of cooking to reduce and thicken the sauce.

Serve with plain polenta – no cheese, no milk. Traditional polenta is made with plain water.

POLENTA

There is instant polenta and original polenta. Instructions for cooking it are generally on the packet.Generally the ratio is 1 ½ cups yellow polenta to 4 cups water, salt to taste.Original polenta will take about 30 minutes.
PROCESSES
In a heavy saucepan sift the cornmeal into the pan with water and salt. On medium eat bring to the boil. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon with a long handle. Reduce the heat to low. You will need to stir constantly until the polenta is smooth and thick and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Pour out the polenta onto a wooden board and with a spatula, shape it into a round shape (to resemble a cake) and allow it to rest 10 minutes.
Cut the polenta into thick slices, place one slice on each plate and top with the seppie in umido.
Slices of left over polenta taste wonderful fried in extra virgin olive oil. The surface of the polenta will develop a crosta (a golden brown crust). Delightful!!
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For the Sicilian version of Pasta with Black ink sauce see earlier post: