Rob’s Squid with chilli & mint (serves 4 as a starter)
You will need:
4 medium size squid, cleaned and cut into large bite sized pieces, or rings
Juice of 11/2 large lemons
Large bunch of mint roughly chopped
2 fresh chillies, finely chopped, seeds and all - this is supposed to be hot.
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 shot glass of Pernod, Ouzo, Ricard or any aniseed spirit
Rock salt & black pepper
Crusty bread or Ciabatta to accompany
This is a squid dish for those that like to be smacked around the head with flavour. It isn’t subtle; it’s hot and salty and you treat it like knocking back a shot of vodka. You can’t be delicate because it’s rustic like an Italian dish eaten al fresco in the sunshine. I have found when people try cooking this they tend to be shy regarding the amount of chilli, garlic and Pernod they’re throwing at it. Be brave and really go for it! Also, fennel & aniseed complements seafood very well, hence the Pernod!
Cut up the bread and put in a basket on the table. Get four bowls warmed and ready, because this will only take a couple of minutes.
Get a frying pan properly hot and put in a good glug of olive oil. Throw in the chilli & garlic and shake the pan. Before the garlic burns throw in the squid and shake the pan again or stir with a long handled spoon. Get the pepper mill and grind some black pepper over it. Now, lots of liquid is coming out of the squid. This is good, trust me. Get the Pernod (or similar) and have yourself a shot, after all, this is fun stuff and you’ve got to be relaxed about it! It also sets the palate and will give you a perfect background to the squid when you get to it. If you’re feeling generous - let your guests have one too! Now, get a good pinch or two of the rock salt and throw it in. Don’t overcook the squid, but give it a minute in the pan, then add the lemon juice immediately followed by the mint (all of it). Give it a final stir, taste it and season accordingly. You’ll know when it’s ready, because you’ll go ‘wow!’ If it isn’t, add more lemon juice, salt or chilli. If that has taken over three minutes, it’s overcooked, so be quick!
Serve in bowls and make sure you share out all that juice - you’ll be dipping your bread in it at the end.
My husband likes to ‘invent’ dishes and this is one he conjured up about 3 or 4 years ago. He tested it out on us (me and our three children - his willing guinea-pigs!), adjusting the chilli for the youngest members. Guess what? We loved it! We beg him to make it for us on a regular basis (especially when the sun is shining, it seems to taste even more magnificent then!). It’s also a real hit with friends, served either as a starter or a main and accompanied, of course, by a glass of wine.
Born and bred in the sunny seaside town of Brighton, one of the first literary conundrums SHANI STRUTHERS had to deal with was her own name – Shani can be pronounced in a variety of ways but in this instance it’s Shay-nee not Shar-ney or Shan-ni – although she does indeed know a Shanni – just to confuse matters further! Hobbies include reading, writing, eating and drinking – all four of which keep her busy enough. After graduating from university with a degree in English and American Literature, Shani became a freelance copywriter. Twenty years later, the day job includes writing novels too. Her debut novel The Runaway Year was released on 2nd July 2013 from Omnific Publishing.
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