"I come from a culture where the pub is the centre of the community. The pub is the Internet. It's where information is gathered, collated and addressed."
Rhys Ifans (1967-)
I don't have enough squid recipes on my website! I don't eat it as often as how much I like it should warrant. My dad eats it all the time. I've promised myself I'm going to eat it more - I really do like it!
The other weekend, despite telling me he didn't have much fish and I had to turn up early to the market to avoid disappointment, it turned out Martin Yorwarth had lots of fish and some really lovely stuff. Not least a decent offering of some squid caught out of Newhaven.
Knowing I had some rocket in the fridge I had The River Café's signature dish of squid, rocket and chilli in mind, but on a whim I delved into a pair of books I hadn't looked into for a while, "The Gastropub Cookbook" and its sequel, by Diana Henry. This whim was triggered by a recollection that squid and gastropubs became somewhat "fashionable" at roughly the same time. I was curious to look back at what sort of things gastropub chefs were conjuring up with squid at that time.
Curiously, you don't hear the term "gastropub" used anywhere near as much as you used to. Perhaps that's because it's now become almost a norm for a pub to have a worthy gastronomic offering. I'm always up for a pub lunch - it's probably my favourite way of eating out. The menu tends naturally to feature seasonal, local produce and in the presence of such a menu I, for one, am helplessly drawn to dishes that speak of the region: lamb in Wales, pork in the Cotswolds, seafood in Cornwall, and so on. But a steak and kidney pie wherever I can find it!
That said, what we have here is a Portuguese squid dish from a pub in Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire! The pub is called "The Kings Arms" and is actually more than your simplest example, having 11 beautifully-looking guestrooms as well as a bar and restaurant. In truth, if I found myself in an eatery in Gloucestershire I could almost guarantee that a "Squid Piri Piri" would not even be a contender in my shortlist from the menu. But, in browsing the pages of this book, my focus is different and I have to say that, having made this recipe a few times, it's now a firm favourite way of enjoying squid.
The "Piri Piri" is based on a roasted red pepper. Generally speaking I prefer to use the long Romano variety, as the skin tends to be quite robust and therefore imparts its roasted flavour into the flesh effectively as well as peeling off obligingly. That said, I have made this and other similar dishes with the more common "bell" or "cup" pepper and it works fine.
The other essential constituent to a "Piri Piri", apart from the garlic, is chilli. It should be a spicy creation. However, most of the capsicum flavour comes from the roasted pepper which leaves the quantity of chilli very much to personal taste. For the sake of clarity, the quantities given below achieve quite a piquant result! But that's my personal taste.
This dish is served superbly, in my view, just with a salad of peppery leaves lightly coated with a simple dressing made from extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, sugar and salt.
Squid Piri Piri
Ingredients (serves 2 as a light lunch or a supper)
500g squid, cleaned
1 large red pepper (ideally of the Romano variety)
1 large garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped
1 dried red chilli, crumbled (or 1 tsp dried chilli flakes)
1-2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and coarsely chopped
½ tsp coriander powder
1 tsp red wine vinegar
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Heat the grill to maximum. Coat the red pepper with a very thin film of olive oil and place on a baking sheet under the grill. Turning, regularly, grill until the skin of the pepper is charred and blistered then transfer it to a bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to cool then peel away the skin and discard the seeds. Reserve any liquid released.
Chop the flesh of the pepper coarsely and put in the bowl of a blender. Add the chopped garlic, fresh and dried chilli and the ground coriander. Blitz to a paste adding enough extra virgin olive oil (approx. 1 tbsp) to create a marinade.
Separate the tentacles from the bodies of the squid and, if large, halve them lengthways. Cut the bodies lengthways in half and, with a small sharp knife, score the inside of the squid in a criss-cross pattern. Transfer all the squid to a bowl, pour over two-thirds of the marinade, coat the squid well then cover with cling film and leave to marinate overnight.
To the remaining marinade, add about 1 tbsp olive oil, the red wine vinegar and salt to taste, to create a dressing. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
Before cooking the squid allow it and the dressing to come to room temperature and heat a ridged grill pan until smoking. Grill the squid for about a minute on either side to achieve a charred exterior with a moist centre. Just before removing from the pan squeeze some lemon juice over the squid then transfer to serving plates and drizzle with the dressing. Serve straight away with lemon wedges and a salad of peppery leaves.
"The Gastropub Cookbook", Diana Henry (2003), pp. 103: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gastro-pub-cookbook-Diana-Henry/dp/B001RMYI1C
The Kings Arms, website accessed 16 March 2020