If you have not yet discovered what a versatile addition to your diet squid can be I urge you to try it soon. Although there are many ways to use it, one of the best has to be as a pasta substitute. Yes, its mild flavour and nice ‘al-dente’ bite, combined with convenient two minute cooking time, mean it can be substituted for the inferior grain-based variety in almost any pasta recipe. What’s more it will be a more-than-acceptable substitute for all but the fussiest of kids that have grown up with pasta as a mainstay of their diet. Getting the whole family and sceptical guests to eat grain-free just became that little bit easier.
By the way, if you have been put off by those horrible breaded calamari rings served up in pubs which taste mainly of oxidised vegetable oil and batter surrounding a gelatinous mush in the middle you have my sympathies. Fresh squid on the other hand, cooked lightly and simply, has a great mouth feel, carries other flavours well, and is very satisfying without being heavy on the stomach.
Even more convenient, however, are frozen squid tubes (the main body sans tentacles). Waitrose sells these for a very reasonable £3.99 for 400g – enough for 3 or 4 persons. They are succulent and tender and defrost in warm water really quickly. In many ways they are a must-have for the freezer as they are so quick, easy and versatile.
Nutritionally they are high in protein (16g/100g), almost zero carb and just a trace of n3-PUFA.
The recipe below is leaning towards Thai style, with the anchovy paste and five spice flavourings. However, the sun-dried tomatoes, bell peppers and tomato puree are more Mediterranean. Authentic provenance, however, was never the aim. This dish is just super-tasty and easily varied to suit what you’ve got at hand. When we cooked this dish this evening, the aubergines, bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and onions all came from our kitchen garden. (Smug smile)
Recipe ‘Five spice squid with roast aubergine’ (serves 2-4)
Aubergines – 2 large, sliced thickly
Ghee and/or olive oil and/or dripping and/or lard
Salt – 1-2 teaspoons
Squid tubes – 400g, cut into thin (quarter inch) rings or strips
Bell peppers – 2 or 3 large, chopped fine
Red onion – 2 or 3 large, chopped fine
Sun-dried tomatoes (in olive oil) – 4 to 6 large, chopped fine
Coconut oil – 2 tablespoons
Five spice – ground, 2 teaspoons
Tomato puree – double concentrate, 50-75g
Anchovy paste – 2 teaspoons
The aubergines take longer (45+ minutes), than the main dish (15 minutes), so get them started before preparing any of the other ingredients.
Place the aubergine slices in a large roasting tin, preferably in one layer, lightly sprinkle with salt, and drizzle liberally with olive oil and/or ghee. Place in the oven at 180 C for approx. 45 minutes to 1 hour, until soft all the way through when tested with a fork. Check half way through and rearrange or turn slices to ensure they are soaking up the oil on both sides. (Note: The aubergine will absorb lots of oil and will not soften down well into creamy-deliciousness with insufficient oil!)
In a large frying pan, gently fry the onion, bell peppers and five spice in coconut oil, slowly on a low heat so they soften without burning; stir occasionally to mix the spices evenly. Once the vegetables soften, add the chopped sun dried tomatoes, tomato puree and anchovy paste. Stir in thoroughly and continue to cook for a few minutes. Drag the vegetable sauce to one side of the pan in a pile so they stay hot and moist.
Prepare the squid as rings or strips and gently fry in the clear area of the pan for a few minutes, turning so they don’t burn on one side. When thoroughly heated through, combine them with the vegetable sauce.
(Very) Approximate Macronutrients (whole dish)
P: 67g C: 22g F: 90g
Sustainability of Squid
Squid is one of the most sustainable foods you can eat. Here is a humorous look at why…