Last Week’s Special – 36

Squid with Tomatoes and Red Wine

Don’t you love crispy Calamari with a glass of Pinot Grigio? A summer evening is ideal, but they are equally nice on a cold, winter’s evening. Such a wonderful combination, fried squid and crispy white wine. That is, if your Calamari is made of squid.

Go to your local supermarket and look for frozen Calamari. Interesting. All perfectly shaped, all perfectly the same size. Now go to your local fishmonger and buy (frozen) squid. How to cut perfect, similar sized rings from squid? Simple, you can’t.

Another interesting question: what happened to the tentacles?

If you prepare your own Calamari from fresh squid you will have rings (made from the mantle) in various sizes and shapes plus you will have tentacles and fins.
If you buy factory-produced ready to fry or eat Calamari you could be eating the real thing, but you could also be eating a fried mixture of left over squid, octopus, fish, flower and E-numbers. And to reduce your appetite for Calamari even more: factories treat the squid with sodium bicarbonate (and probably other chemicals) to make the meat softer. Bon Appétit!

Time to start cooking

The stew is a combination of squid, tomatoes, red wine and bay leaf, supported by shallot and garlic. The red wine in combination with the natural colour of the squid will help create a dark velvet red colour. This will take some time, but that’s fine, in the mean time the meat of the squid will become nice, tasty and soft. Bay leaf is essential. Feel free to add more. We finish the dish with parsley, just to give it an extra sharpness.

We enjoyed our stew as a starter with a glass of Inycon Estate, made of Viognier and Chardonnay. Inycon Estate is an international brand of Cantine Settesoli, a Sicilian wine producer. They produce a nice range of affordable wines, such as Nero D’Avola, Pinot Grigio and Shiraz. The combination of Viognier and Chardonnay works really well. The wine is both fruity, fresh and full-bodied.
When you eat the stew as a main, you could go for a light, cool, red wine. Not too complex because the stew is rather powerful.

Preparing squid

Buy a kilo of squid. In most cases the squid will be frozen, but that’s fine. The process of cleaning squid is simple and a bit messy. Not smelly by the way.

  1. Start by removing the head from the body. When you do this gently, you will also remove most of the internal organs of the squid.
  2. You may want to secure the ink for later use.
  3. Just below the eyes, cut off the tentacles using a knife or scissors. Remove the beak (located at the base of the tentacles). Discard internal organs and beak. Transfer the tentacles to a bowl.
  4. With your fingers remove the cartilage (this is the part that looks like it is made of plastic).
  5. Remove the skin of the mantle and fins. Best is to start in the middle and then gently pull the skin towards the top and bottom. Discard the skin.
  6. Remove the fins and transfer to the bowl with tentacles.
  7. Turn the mantle inside out by pushing the top into the mantle. This allows you to remove all internal organs and the membrane.
  8. Turn the mantle outside in by pushing the top into the mantle. Cut the mantle into rings and transfer to the bowl.
  9. Wash the rings, fins and tentacles with cold water.

Here is what you need

  • 1 kilo Squid (to be cleaned)
  • Olive Oil
  • Shallot
  • 2 Garlic Gloves
  • Red Chilli
  • 500 grams of Excellent Red Tomatoes (peeled, seeded and cut in chunks)
  • Red Wine
  • Two Fresh Bay Leaves
  • Black Pepper
  • Parsley

Use a heavy, iron skillet for this stew. Cut the shallot in small bits and glaze gently in olive oil. Once the shallot is glazed add the garlic and the chilli. After a few minutes add the squid (rings, tentacles and fins). Let the liquid reduce for a few minutes, and then add the tomatoes, a glass of red wine and the bay leaf. Allow to slowly simmer for 4 hours. If necessary add a splash of water. Stir every 15 minutes. Just before serving add black pepper (be generous) and some parsley.
Serve with crusty bread (as a starter) or with red rice.


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