Les's Rustic Galician Cuttlefish Stew
Updated: Apr 6, 2022
"Después de Dios, vino largo vivo [After God, long live wine]."
Rosalía de Castro, Galician writer and poet (1837-1885).
It's a real delight to be posting a recipe of Les's, a cuttlefish stew cooked low-and-slow, one he has been cooking for many years and likes to share with others. And with the cuttlefish season having only a few more weeks to run, he was keen to have shared once again.
It's based on a traditional Galician dish called Sepia Guisada con Patatas, literally "cuttlefish stewed with potatoes", a dish evidently in the repertoire of all Galician home cooks and doubtless each of them have their own "correct" recipe.
Being a meal in and of itself, I wanted to make a traditional Pan Gallego (Galician Bread), to accompany it... But when I saw the detailed technique required in making this bread properly, I realised that this was not going to happen. In fact, Pan Gallego, is a type of sourdough, so all was not lost... I bought a sourdough loaf.
A note of thanks to Menú & Carta for directing me to where I was able to find the charming quote above, but a big thank you to Les for this delicious recipe.
I served mine with a glass of dry cider, but I am rightly corrected that we are a region further to the West so the appropriate choice is an Albariño.
You will see that the ingredient list affords a fair amount of flexibility which couldn't be more in the spirit of a rustic, traditional dish. Les's original recipe calls for the potatoes to be included in the early stages of the cooking process. This naturally leads to very soft, melting potatoes, which is the way Les prefers them. Other recipes of this kind that I have encountered call for the potatoes to be added later in the recipe, which happens to be my preference, but is just as authentic.
However, it is only right that Les's original recipe is the one posted here, with just a few minor contributions of mine. I used a slightly different method in the cooking but nothing that veers wildly from the true original, which can be found in his email to me.
Rustic Galician Cuttlefish Stew
Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
Plain olive oil, sunflower or vegetable oil
1kg cleaned cuttlefish, and cut into pieces of around 2cm
2 or 3 onions, roughly chopped
2 or 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
1 large red pepper, diced
Half tube of tomato puree or 2 tins of chopped tomato
A glass of white wine
300ml water (according to which type of tomato has been chosen)
Fresh or dried chillies (large, mild green chillies included whole is quite authentic)
One bulb of garlic
Half dozen sticks of celery, semi-finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Bouquet garni (parsley stalks, thyme sprigs, rosemary sprigs etc.)
Heat the oil in a large oven-proof casserole and, when hot, add seasoned cuttlefish pieces in batches, and fry until coloured. Remove the fried pieces and set aside between batches.
In the same oil (add more if necessary) , fry the onions until lightly golden.
Add the white wine, bring it to the boil and when well reduced add all the remaining ingredients (except the potatoes if you prefer a firmer potato in your stew), using only as much water as required to just cover. Return the contents of the casserole to the boil and cover with a lid.
Transfer the casserole to an oven preheated to 160°C fan or 180°C conventional and simmer for an hour and a half adding the potatoes, if not already included, after 45 minutes (or as preferred).
Serve with sourdough bread and an Albariño.
Palacio de Fefiñanes 2018: As an Albariño, it would be expected to be a candidate for a Galician dish and, although I can't say I've actually tried this wine with this particular dish, a previous tasting (see Almejas a la Marinera) would compel me to give this a go. Appropriate acidity for the sweetness and sourness of a tomato and seafood combination with a garlic and herb contribution.