Updated: Mar 6, 2021
"It's like a squid in love with the sky."
M. T. Anderson (2002)
Fresh back from my virtual tour of India for "Great British Game Week" 2020 and inspired by my virtual visit to Goa I'm cooking squid marinated in a classic Goan spice paste, Cafreal Masala. Normally used for the cooking of chicken pieces (though I used it for pheasant) either shallow fried or over a wood fire, it occurred to me that a spice paste made up principally from cloves, cardamom, garlic, green chilli and fresh coriander must be a serious contender for squid which takes to spice brilliantly and absolutely loves garlic. With a nod of encouragement from my Goan buddy Claudette of No Worries Curries, I quickly discovered this idea to be very successful.
Squid has always been a welcome seasonal offering on the market stall in the winter months but it doesn't really hang around for very long. So much so that I have most years blinked and missed it. Not this year - the squid I got hold of was out of this world - it makes the cooking so much easier when dealing with fresh ingredients in absolutely top condition.
Having gratefully observed the guidance of Claudette I'm keen to endorse the suggestion that a "Cafreal" dish works superbly well with fried potato wedges and a tart salad to accompany, and that is equally the case with this chargrilled squid incarnation of it. For the potatoes I have added a little spice for fun and for the salad I have used seasonally-abundant cabbage and carrots zinged-up with mint and coriander, a concoction I have been making for years but was chuffed to find something near identical, "Salada de Repolho", in "The Essential Goa Cookbook", by Maria Teresa Menezes. It's Goan sunshine in wintertime Britain!
Having just said above how this dish may be served as a main for two (with a 300g squid per person before its preparation), I think it would also work well as a starter for two (with a 150g squid each), served rather with just a few salad leaves. But it could also be used as part of a "tapas"-style spread to serve more.
The "sauce" in Step 3 is not essential but is an idea I 'borrowed' from Claudette as a way of reinstating the greenness at the heart of the Cafreal Masala. A drizzle of lime juice, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of chopped coriander would achieve a quite delightful result and would probably be what I would do most of the time.
If it's easier, my understanding suggests that this dish could easily be accompanied by chips and, really, any salad you like. But for the salad I do think a nice, sharp dressing would be just the thing. A bit of chilli sauce on the side can only be to the good.
Ingredients (Serves 2 as a starter or main, or more as part of a spread - see recipe intro)
2 x 150g (starter) or 2 x 300g (main) squid, cleaned and skinned, body, wings and tentacles separated (see recipe intro)
Quarter-quantity (starter) or half-quantity (main) of Cafreal Masala
1-2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
1 garlic clove
1-2 green chillies (or to taste), deseeded and coarsely chopped
Finely grated zest of half a lime (optional)
1-2 tsp white wine vinegar
Approx 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lime wedges, to serve
Rub the squid pieces inside and out (just a little on the inside) with the half-quantity of Cafreal Masala and leave to marinate for at least half an hour.
Heat a ridged grill pan until smoking-hot and meanwhile coat the squid with a film of cooking oil. Put the squid pieces on the grill pan and sear them over a high heat, turning as necessary, until the outside is charred and the inside is just cooked. Leave to rest for 5 mins.
Combine the garlic, green chilli, lime zest (if using) and fresh coriander leaves on a chopping board and chop them together until fine. Put in a small mixing bowl and stir in the vinegar and just enough extra virgin olive oil to create a thick 'sauce'. Season to taste.
Divide the squid onto two plates and drizzle the sauce over, then serve with a lime wedge each and the accompaniments in the notes, if you like, as well as some chilli sauce.
Spicy Fried Potato Wedges: Peel 2 or 3 potatoes, cut into wedges and put in a pan of cold water with 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp turmeric. Bring to the boil and simmer for 7 minutes or until the potatoes are three-quarters cooked. Drain and allow to steam dry. Toss the wedges in salt, pepper and cumin powder then deep or shallow fry in batches until crisp. Sprinkle with chilli powder before serving.
"Salada de Repolho" (Cabbage Salad): In a bowl mix finely sliced cabbage, shredded carrot and finely sliced red onion with slivers of green chilli, if desired. 1 hour before serving, sprinkle with a little salt and vinegar to tenderise the veg a bit. To finish, add chopped mint and coriander and adjust the dressing to taste with salt, (white) pepper, vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and a little sugar if wanted.
"The Essential Goa Cookbook", Maria Teresa Menezes (2000), pp. 232: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Essential-Cookbook-Maria-Teresa-Menezes/dp/0141000872