Tag Archives: Squid

‘NDUJA with SQUID, very simple

‘Nduja– a spicy, spreadable, pork salame originating from Calabria is sold in places that sell Italian smallgoods.

I have mainly presented ‘Nduja with some fresh bread (like Pâté) or I have used ‘Nduja as an ingredient in sauces for pasta –an excellent ragù (a meat-based tomato sauce), sautéed with cime di rape and Italian pork sausages and I often add it to squid either for a sauce for pasta/polenta/rice or on their own.

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As you can see by the photos, this is a very simple recipe and it is cooked very quickly – onions, ‘Nduja, squid and olive oil. Most of the time I also add finely chopped parsley at the same time as the squid.

Use small to medium sized squid.

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1,5 kg of Squid, 150g ‘Nduja, ½ onion, extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice at the end.

Sauté onion in olive oil on medium low heat. Add ‘Nduja, it will dissolve, release some fat and fragrance.

Add squid, a little chopped parsley and stir fry it until it colours (about 10 minutes).

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Sprinkle with lemon juice, more chopped parsley or mint and present it.

Other posts about ‘NDUJA:

SPAGHETTI with ‘NDUJA, SQUID, VONGOLE AND PAN GRATTATO

‘NDUJA, a spreadable and spicy pork salame from Calabria

 

‘NDUJA and CALAMARI as a pasta sauce

‘Nduja is a spicy, spreadable, pork salame originating from Calabria. ‘Nduja is appearing on many menus and recipes – it seems to be replacing chorizo as an ingredient. As tasty as chorizo is, there has been a glut of it in far too many dishes.

I have been buying ‘Nduja for a couple of years now – ask for it in places that sell Italian smallgoods. I always like friends to try new ingredients and I have mainly presented ‘Nduja at the beginning of the meal as an accompaniment to the first drink with some fresh bread (like Pâté ) or I have used ‘Nduja as an ingredient in sauces for pasta – I made an excellent ragù (a meat-based tomato sauce), I added it to sautéed cime di rape with Italian pork sausages and sautéed it with squid (use small to medium sized squid).

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I always enjoy eating squid and because squid cooks quickly I enjoy making pasta sauces with it. The photo of squid was taken in the Catania Fish Market a few years ago.

I have already written a post about NDUJA and a recipe for ‘Nduja and Squid as a pasta sauce  – SPAGHETTI with ‘NDUJA, SQUID, VONGOLE AND PAN GRATTATO. If you enjoy spicy food, it is worth doing.

See vegetable: CIME DI RAPE

Unfortunately I have made this pasta several times but I have not taken photos –  I am too busy dishing it up for guests.

PASTA FANTASIA CON FRUTTI DI MARE, Multicolored Pasta with Seafood

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This is a very small serve of pasta with seafood, but we all had seconds. In Italy less seafood would be used – it is pasta with a condiment (seafood sauce) and not seafood with pasta.

The packet of dry pasta was bought in Amalfi where my friends were holidaying recently. The packet was packed in a suitcase and arrived in Broadbeach on the Gold Coast in Queensland where they live.

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Last week I visited these two friends who had purchased the pasta for me and were waiting for my comingl to cook it. All four of us who were eating the pasta love seafood and this is what we did.

Fresh prawns and squid are prolific on the Gold Coast and the idea of using the broth left over from steaming some mussels open appealed to us. Also there was plenty of basil and fresh thyme in the fridge, left over from the meal of the night before. White wine is always on hand as are garlic and onions.

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The colours for the pasta are all derived from vegetables and spices: spinach is used for the green, beetroot is used for the magenta, sepia (ink from ink fish or squid) for the brown, paprika for orange and the yellow is derived from turmeric.

The makers call it Pasta Fantasia Multicolore – it is easy to guess what these words mean and the mixture of shapes and colours and stripes are truly very appealing visually. Unfortunately the flavours of the vegetables and spices were not at all evident and if they had been, the pasta would have been truly fantastic (in the true sense of the word).

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We cooked the pasta at the same time as we cooked the seafood.

500g pasta
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, cut small
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
500g mussels, debearded
500g squid cut into slices
500g green prawns, cleaned
1 cup white wine
½ cup fresh thyme and ½ cup shredded basil, leave some leaves whole for serving

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Clean the mussels and place them into a pan with a little water. Cook for 5 minutes or longer, making sure all the shells have opened. If some don’t, cook the unopened ones for longer and they will open. Remove mussels from their shells, but save a few for decoration and save the broth. The broth will be quite salty because the mussels would have released their juices and sea water. Filter it before using in case there is grit. Some of the broth will be used to flavour the seafood part of the cooking and the rest can be used with the boiling water to cook the pasta. we ended up with about 1 and 1/2 cups of broth.

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In a large, heavy based pan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and sauté for 3-5 minutes until golden. Add the squid and cook for 3- 5 minutes, then add the prawns, a pinch of salt and pepper and stir them around in the heat until they colour. Add the wine and about 1/3 cup of the mussel broth and the herbs. Evaporate some of the wine. Add the mussels and cover contents with a lid – cook for 3-4 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water mixed with the left over mussel broth to the boil over high heat. Adjust by adding salt if it needs it. Add the pasta and cook it till al-dente and stirring occasionally. The packet states cooking time is about 9-11 minutes. Drain pasta and add the seafood mixture. Toss to combine.
Add more basil if you wish and either transfer it to a a serving platter or serve it from the pan. We are very good friends and we served it from the pan.

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CALAMARI CON MELANZANE (Sautéed squid with eggplants)

A common recipe throughout Italy is braised calamari (usually called calamari in tegame – a tegame is a shallow sauté pan with a lid). The squid are sautéed and then simmered with some liquid – usually wine and/or tomatoes. In Italy small sized squid or cuttlefish is the norm: Australian regulations ensure that our squid grow to a more mature size (a good thing), but generally the larger they are, the tougher they can be.

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For a main course for six people you will need 3 kg of calamari – because they shrink. Potatoes and peas are often included in this dish, but this time I added summer eggplants.

INGREDIENTS
small squid, 3 kg
white wine,1 cup
flat leaf parsley, chopped, 1 cup
extra virgin olive oil,  ½  cup
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
onions, 2 chopped
eggplants, 2 medium sized, peeled and cut into small cubes
tomato salsa, 1 cup
PROCESSES
TOMATO SALSA: fresh, peeled, ripe, chopped tomatoes or a can (with the liquid), a little extra virgin olive oil, garlic cloves left whole, fresh basil or oregano and a little seasoning. Place all of the ingredients into a pan together and evaporate until thickened.
Prepare the squid by removing the head with a sharp knife. Open the body and remove the internal organs. Retain the ink sacs and freeze them if you wish to use them at another time for pasta with black ink sauce.
Wipe clean or wash the squid and cut into strips.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the peeled chopped onions lightly.
Add the squid; stir-fry it for about 5 minutes.
Pour in the white wine, salsa and eggplants, season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Cover and cook gently for 15-20 minutes until the eggplants are cooked.

 

 

GRILLED CALAMARI (CALAMARI ‘NTA BRACI (Sicilian) – CALAMARI ALLA BRACE (Italian)

Both calamari and cuttlefish (seppie) are very popular in Italy.  Calamariis 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). In Australia the two species are often sold interchangeably.

Cuttlefish is usually braised and is favoured for making black ink sauces. As for squid, it is cooked and eaten in many ways, including raw but probably my favourite way of cooking squid is alla brace (grilled over hot coals); my gas fuelled Baby Webber does a good job too.
I prefer to grill squid on high heat for a short time; Italians (includes Sicilians) generally prefer to cook it on medium–low heat for longer. When you cook it for a short time, the squid may still look a little shiny, but the residual heat completes the cooking, the flesh will turn opaque but remain moist.
I generally buy small to medium sized squid (anything bigger than 400g each I consider to be large squid.) Grilled Calamari are popular all over Italy, but the salmorigano dressing is Sicilian.
 
INGREDIENTS AND PROCESSES
Season the squid with a fine sprinkling of salt and leave it to rest for about 5 minutes. .
Baste the squid with a little extra virgin olive oil; for extra flavour, use a strong sprig of rosemary or oregano as a brush.
Brush a little oil on the metal grill before cooking the squid and grill the squid for 4-8 minutes on each side. This will depend on the size of the squid and how you like it.
Place them on a large serving platter and rest it for about 3-5 minutes before covering it with a little dressing.

 

SALMORIGANO
A simple, Sicilian dressing is salmorigano. Mix together some extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, a little dried oregano (it is stronger tasting than fresh), some finely cut flat leaf parsley and some salt and pepper to taste. Some also add a clove of finely chopped garlic.

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CALAMARETTI IN TEGAME – in Sicilian it is CALAMARICCHI ’N’TIANU (Small calamari braised with tomatoes and potatoes)

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Calamaretti is the diminutive of calamari and Italians do mean small. This is a common recipe for braised calamaretti. In Australia it is often difficult to purchase small sized squid or cuttlefish, but do your best.  A tegame, is a shallow pan.

The photo of this squid was taken in the fish market in Catania, however I have been extremely pleased with the squid from my fish vendor (Happy Tuna stall in the Queen Victoria Market) and I have been buying it frequently.

I particularly like char grilled calamari with a salmoriglio dressing (oil, lemon, parsley, oregano). However, a simple braised calamari is also a good alternative, especially in winter.

For a main course you will need 3 kg of young calamari or more because they shrink. Potatoes and peas are often included in this dish.

INGREDIENTS
small squid, 3 kg
white wine,1 cup
flat leaf parsley, chopped, 1 cup
extra virgin olive oil,  ½  cup
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
onions, 2 chopped
potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes or chunks (estimate for 30mins cooking time)
tomato salsa, 1 cup

TOMATO SALSA: fresh, peeled, ripe, chopped tomatoes or a can (with the liquid), a little extra virgin olive oil, garlic cloves left whole, fresh basil or dried oregano and a little seasoning. Place all of the ingredients into a pan together and evaporate until thickened. Add a little sugar, more olive oil and some extra leaves of fresh basil.

PROCESSES
Prepare the squid by removing the head with a sharp knife. Open the body and remove the internal organs. Retain the ink sacs and freeze them if you wish to use them at another time (see recipes……..).
Wash or wipe the squid and cut into strips.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the peeled chopped onions lightly.
Add the squid, stir for 3 minutes, and pour in the white wine, salsa and potatoes, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and cook gently for 30 minutes.
 VARIATIONS
Add 4 chopped anchovies, to above recipe.
When in season add peas, (2 cups shelled).
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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:

MONTALBANO’S PASTA WITH BLACK INK SAUCE

Fans of the television series Montalbano (was a big, hit in Italy and Australia) are likely to be enchanted with the beauty of the Sicilian landscape and the array of specialty Sicilian food featured in the series.

Commissario Salvo Montalbano is a police commissioner and he lives in the south-east of Sicily, near Marina di Ragusa where my relatives have their holiday houses. Montalbano’s beach house  is in Punta Secca is a small fishing village, in the Santa Croce Camerina comune, in Ragusa province, Sicily.

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Andrea Camilleri is the writer of the crime stories and the books abound with delicious Sicilian food references.

Montalbano is an extremely appealing character who loves to eat. He savours his food, relishing all that is prepared for him with appreciation and gratitude. He readily accepts invitations to the homes of others and has his favourite trattorie (small restaurants). Montalbano is a detective who uses food to cheer himself up, plan his next moves and to weigh up the evidence. In the evenings he anticipates what Adelina (his housekeeper and cook) has left for him to eat and he hates to be interrupted over his dinner, but the phone often rings. He often seems to be thinking of what he will eat next or what he has eaten and in the books, Camilleri describes almost every dish Montalbano eats. And every dish is traditionally Sicilian.

On my last trip to Sicily, I ate in a couple of trattorie in Palermo where Camilleri and his friend Leonardo Sciascia (Sicilian writer) have been frequent patrons. One of Camilleri’s favourite dishes must be pasta or rice with black ink sauce – there are references made in a number of the books in the Montalbano series. In Siracusa I ate ricotta ravioli with black ink sauce.

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Camilleri lives and works in Rome but spent a great number of years in Sicily before he moved north. He was born in Porto Empedocle, which is not far from Ragusa, and although Camilleri has given the places in Sicily fictitious names, the locations are recognisable. For example the scenes in Montalbano’s beautiful house overlooking the sea in Marinella near the fictional town of Vigàta is really of Punta Secca in Porto Empedocle (see photo). Fiacca is Sciacca, Fela is Gela, and Montelusa is Agrigento. The police station is a building in Ragusa Ibla and all of these towns are close to Ragusa, where my relatives live. The trattorie and restaurants in these south-eastern part of Sicily where the series were shot, have capitalised on this – a traveller visiting this part of Sicily can always sit down to eat pasta (or rice – risu) cu niuru di sicci

This is how I cook it.

INGREDIENTS
pasta, 500 g (spaghetti, linguine or bucatini)
squid or cuttlefish, 600g, and 2-3 ink sacks
ripe tomatoes, 300g, peeled and chopped
tomato paste, 1 large tablespoon
salt (a little) and, chili flakes or freshly ground black pepper to taste
onion, 1 medium or/and garlic 2 cloves
white wine, 1 cup
parsley, 1 cup finely cut
grated pecorino or ricotta to serve (optional)

 

PROCESSES
Clean the squid carefully and extract the ink sac (see pg…). Cut the squid into 1cm rings and set them aside. The tentacles can be used also.
For the salsa:
Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil. Add the tomatoes, chopped parsley, salt, white wine and tomato paste. Bring to a boil and evaporate until the salsa is thick.
Cook pasta.
Add the squid ink, red pepper flakes to the salsa and mix well.
Add the squid rings and cook over a medium-high heat until the squid is cooked to your liking (for me it is only a few minutes). If you prefer to cook the squid further (as the Italians do), add a little water, cover the pan and braise for longer.
Present the pasta with grated pecorino (or topped with a little ricotta – you do not want to end up with grey ricotta, so do not mix through).

Although Sicily is relatively small, the food is very local and there are always regional variations:

Keep the squid white – sauté it in a little oil for a few minutes (add a 1 chopped clove of garlic and 1-2 tablespoons of finely cut parsley). Fold it through the dressed pasta gently and reserve some for on top.
·Add 1 cup of shelled peas at the same time as the tomatoes.
·Add bay leaves at the same time as the squid.
·Reserve some of the salsa and present the black pasta with a spoon of salsa and a spoon of ricotta on top.

Photos of Ravioli and Pasta are by Graeme Gilles, stylist Fiona Rigg, from my book Sicilian Seafood Cooking.

 

 

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