Seared Squid with Black Olive & Saffron Sauce

This squid recipe was created by Charles Draghi, chef and owner of Erbaluce in Boston, at last spring’s Boston Public Market Seafood Throwdown, sponsored by NAMA.

Draghi says, “there is nothing I don’t like about squid; they are easier to breakdown than a lot of fish. I love their versatility, and their texture. They have a clean flavor and a creamy texture; it’s almost a latex-y bite, but it’s very pleasant.”

“When squid first come in shore there is a minerally taste to them. Then they start feeding on the inshore fish eating the blue green algae, and they become more flavorful – sweeter and creamier.”

Drag creates here a pungent black olive sauce, made with fresh herbs and one of his favorite ingredients, saffron. For a little added briny flavor, he pours a bit of the liquid collected at the bottom of the bowl holding the squid – a mixture of ink and squid “juice” – into the sauce.

Draghi says this sauce would be equally delicious over fresh grilled sardines, or whole scallops served with the roe. A dense, light fish like halibut or striped bass would also love this sauce, but for striped bass change the olive paste to green olives. Ironically, neutral flavored fish like strong flavors, Draghi points out.

“Halibut and rosemary are a great combination.” Olives, he says, are perfect with fish, and the black olives add an extra smokey flavor.

Uncleaned, squid weigh approximately a 1/2 pound a piece. Don’t rinse the cleaned squid too well; leave a bit of the ink on the surface.

“You want a little flavor of land and sea,” Draghi says.

Last words of wisdom from Charles Draghi: “there is no such thing as too much lemon.”

 

serves 4 as an appetizer Ingredients:

For Squid
1 pound cleaned, skinned squid (5-6 whole squid), body cut into 3/4” rings, legs whole pinch salt
pinch pepper
pinch sugar
drizzle olive oil
juice from 1/2 a lemon

For Sauce:
3 tablespoons black olive paste (tapenade) 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

salt to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
juice from half a lemon (or 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar)
dried anise hyssop (or tarragon) – optional
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
2 tablespoons juice and leftover ink from squid – the drips at the bottom of the bowl that held the squid

Instructions:

Put squid in a medium bowl, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and sugar. Toss well, then drizzle in olive oil, and toss again.

Heat a medium skillet to high heat. Place squid in pan in a single layer, and DO NOT MOVE. (This may be done in stages or use 2 pans at once to cook all the squid.) Leave still in the pan for a good 2 minutes, allowing dark caramelization to occur, and the edges to char.

After the bottom has achieved dark marks, begin to move around in the pan. Allow squid to cook go medium rare, about 3-5 minutes. Squeeze lemon half over all, and remove squid to a platter.

Mix together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

To serve, place squid on a platter, and drizzle sauce attractively around and over. Serve immediately, while squid is still warm.

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