Calamar a la Plancha
Updated: Apr 6
We don’t expect to see squid on the market stall until the late autumn and winter months when they are caught on our south coast via rod-and-line (see article here for how this is done with a squid jig). But having recently been on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, where squid is abundant most, if not all, months of the year, there’s no harm in contemplating a recipe in anticipation of its availability.
My father cooks this dish regularly but, moreover, superbly, as the photo of his most recent creation evidences. In reality, it is barely a recipe, rather a perfect treatment for a super-fresh squid and a treatment which is championed by the Spanish with all their "squisdom" in simple seafood cookery.
Whereas this is a dish that associates with sunny, coastal, al fresco eating, it can, perhaps, bring a ray of sunshine to the table at a winter lunch.
Squid, as cuttlefish, needs to be cooked either very quickly over a very high heat, or long-and-slow, but anything between is destined to achieve a result more readily associable with a Michelin tyre than a Michelin star.
This preparation is an example of the former approach (for an example of the latter see Cuttlefish and Bean Stew), for which there are but two essential factors. First, the raw squid should be at room temperature before meeting the pan and, second, that pan must be as hot as it is possibly can. A moment of rest (the squid, not the cook!) after leaving the pan can only serve to the good.
Shared amongst several diners this makes for a superb starter, especially if followed by a paella - surely a post for the future? Alternatively, a larger portion per person served with good bread to mop up the sauce, and a mixed salad, is an ample and healthy light lunch or supper. Best results will be achieved with larger squid, those of a size that can easily serve two. A pinch of finely chopped fresh or dried red chilli in the dressing is a welcome addition.
Calamar a la Plancha
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 medium/large squid, skinned and cleaned (approx 250g+ cleaned weight)
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra
Juice of half a lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the dressing mix the chopped garlic, chopped parsley, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and some seasoning in a small bowl. Leave for half an hour or so to allow the flavours to amalgamate.
Heat a ridged grill pan to as hot as you dare.
Cut the squid body in several places on one side through to the centre. Season all the pieces of squid (tentacles, wings, body) with salt and pepper and coat with a light film of olive oil.
Place all the squid pieces on the grill pan, with the body first on the uncut side. After two minutes, turn all the pieces over and cook for a further two minutes.
Put the cooked squid on a plate and coat with the dressing. Leave for a minute or so and then serve.
"Catching Squid with a Rod and Line", britishseafishing.co.uk, accessed 13 September 2019