I adore squid. I’m sure it would feature in my last meal, the only debate being whether it’s a starter or the star of the show. So it always makes me sad when people don’t like squid because they’ve had it badly cooked and associate it with rubber. I’m on a mission to make people love squid as much as I do.
There’s one simple rule with squid: cook it for 60 seconds or 60 minutes, but never in between. It loves a brief connection with a searing heat as you grill or fry it, but it also comes into its own simmered slowly until tender for a more soothing dish. What it doesn’t respond well to is uncertain cooking that makes it curl up and beg for mercy. Be bold with squid. Cook it decisively and pack it with flavour. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
This dish takes advantage of the squid’s natural shape and is stuffed full of callaloo and okra, highlighted with chilli and tomato and then made special with a sprinkle of seafood garnish. It’s very easy, only needs one pot and you can size up the quantities to serve more people.
Stuffed Squid: serves 2
- 1 large squid, cleaned and tentacles reserved
- 1 tin callaloo
- 8 okra pods, sliced into 1 cm coins
- 100g cherry tomatoes
- 1 large red chilli, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (optional)
- two handfuls clams or mussels or cockles in the shell (optional)
- 1 tsp hot paprika
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- olive oil
- seasoning to taste
I bought my squid at Dagon’s. Ask them to clean and prepare the squid, leaving it whole and including the tentacles. At home slice the wings off and cut them and the tentacles into small pieces and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy based pan and saute the sliced okra, garlic and chilli in it until they soften slightly and you can smell the garlic cooking. Add in the paprika, half the callaloo and the chopped squid and remove from the heat. Allow the stuffing to cool enough to be able to handle it and then stuff it into the body of the squid. Take care not to tear the squid. Not all the stuffing will fit inside it.
Place the squid in the same pan you used, putting the remaining stuffing and the other half of the callaloo over the top. Add in the cherry tomatoes, keeping them whole and season with salt and pepper. Add just enough water to stop the callaloo sticking to the pan and then cook on a low heat on the stove with a lid on for about 50 minutes.
While the squid is cooking, soak your shelled seafood in cold water to clean them. Discard any that opens at this stage. Dry so that any excess water drains away. Add the seafood on top of the squid and put the lid back on, cooking for 10 minutes on a low heat. The shells will open and the seafood will flavour the vegetables. Check all the shells are open and discard any that aren’t as these aren’t safe to eat.
Serve the squid with the carb of your choice. On a warm summer day I’d favour some springy sourdough bread to soak up the juice from the tomatoes, but rice works really well. Your squid should be soft and tender, with the callaloo and tomato thickened by the okra and the whole thing given savoury flavour by the seafood. This dish should win over any squid sceptics!