When I get up in the morning I grab a cup of Joe, open up the newspaper and settle back to watch the Eyewitness News at Noon program.
By two o’clock I’m wandering around the house asking myself that age old question. “What’s for dinner?”
Meat loaf? Nah had it last Thursday. Chateau Briand? Gettin’ sick of that French stuff.
I know, how about some squid or octopus? Yeah, that’s the ticket.
So I hopped on down to my local fishmonger, Fabio and checked out the cephalopods on ice in the front cooler.
The average cook in the kitchen may think that the octopus and the squid are the same creature. Our friend the octopus has a round head, the squid has a triangular head. Both have eight arms and pairs of suckers on each arm according to the Encephalopaedia Britannica They are both delicious if cooked right. Both must be either cooked very quickly over high heat (2 minutes or less), or they must be slow cooked for and hour or two over very low heat (around 225). Otherwise you will get nothing but cooked rubber bands. Trust me on this.
So I buy an octopus and a couple of 4 pound squids and head back to the house well-armed. But which one do I do first tonight?
Polpo in Umido
1 Large or 2 Small Octopus – Cleaned, WATCH THE INK!
Sea Salt/Freshly Ground Black Pepper
4 Cloves Garlic, Finely Chopped
2 Olive Oil Packed Anchovy Tins
Pinch of Red Chili
1 Cup Chardonnay
1 28-ounce Can Plum Tomatoes
¼ Cup Fresh PArsley, Chopped
1 Tbs. Capers,
Rough Chopped Pitted Sicilian Green Olives
1 Cup Cooked Garbanzo Beans
Crusty Italian bread
Fill a heavy cast iron pot with salted water and place over high heat. When boiling, add the cleaned octopus and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the octopus to a strainer, discard the water, and wipe the cast-iron pot dry. Cut the octopus into large pieces (I like to cut them so each piece has 2-3 tentacles, as shown in the photo, for easier grilling).
Place a cast-iron pot over medium-low heat and add a splash of extra-virgin olive oil. Add the anchovies and chili flakes and, using a wooden spoon, break up the anchovies in the olive oil until dissolved.
Add the garlic, cut up octopus and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Increase heat to high and add the white wine. Boil stirring occasionally for 4 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you add them. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook partially covered for 30 minutes. Add half the parsley, all the capers and chopped olives. Stir and continue to cook for an additional 1/2 hour.
Carefully remove the octopus from the stew to a plate. Add the drained cooked ceci beans to the stew and cook for another 15 minutes over low heat, letting the chickpeas absorb the flavor of the stew. The stew should be nice and thick at this point. If not, continue to cook until thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Heat the outdoor grill or grill pan. Oil the grill by dipping a paper towel in olive oil and, using long tongs , rubbing on the grilling grate. Grill the long octopus tentacles for 1-2 minutes and flip and grill for another 1-2 minutes. You want a nice char on the tentacles.
Serve some of the stew and chickpea mixture in a bowl. Top with a few grilled tentacles. Finish off with a sprinkle of chopped parsley and toasted breadcrumbs.
Done. Now to throw on a Sex Pistols LP and turn my attention to the squid. How about calamari tacos?
It could be easily confused, especially in referring when it comes to squid and calamari. In brief, squid becomes calamari after being processed in a cuisine.
1 Lb. Calamari, Cleaned, Sliced into 2 in. Rings, Tentacles Halved. WATCH OUT FOR THE INK!
2 Tbsp Lime Juice
⅓ Cup Olive Oyl
16 10in.- Warm Corn Tortillas
1 Cup finely diced onion coarsely chopped coriander, toasted sesame seeds and lime wedges sweet chilli sauce
1 Tbsp. Green Onion, Chopped
3 Tsp.Coarsely Chopped Thai Basil and Cilantro
2 Tsp. Lime Juice
1½ Tsp. Sriracha
1 Tsp Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
1 Tsp.Dried New Mexico Chilli
1Clove GArlic, Minced
½ Tsp.Toasted Sesame Seeds
Combine calamari in a bowl with lime juice and half the olive oil and season to taste.
Heat a plancha to high heat, or heat a large frying pan over high heat. Brush tortillas with remaining oil and cook in batches, turning once, until just warm and slightly crisp (1-2 minutes each side). Keep warm.
Cook calamari on plancha until just seared (1 minute), then season to taste.
Stack tortillas in piles of two, top with calamari, chilli sauce, onion and coriander, scatter with sesame seeds, squeeze over lime wedges and serve.
If you can’t find squid just form an octoposse.
As usual check out the slideshow for some exciting calamari highlights.
Squid Pro Quo everybody.