The Great Squid Experiment, Perhaps Part One

In my last post, I asked for ideas about what to do with the bounty of freshly caught squid that our friend gave ECG and me. I brought the same request to my dad, who, before I was born, used to catch squid off the coast of San Diego. My dad told me about a stew he used to make back then, and while he read the recipe to me over the phone, I could hear my mom hollering in the background about how good this is. And, it is. If you have a friend who just happens to go deep sea fishing, catches a squid, and offers you some (because, you know, that happens every day), I suggest you make this. The squid loosens up with the long cooking, turning velvety and releasing its sweet ocean-y brine into the mess of tomatoes and peppers, eventually combining into a rich, satisfying sea and summer dish.

Dad’s Squid Stew
Adapted from: Complete Book of Italian Cooking, Veronica Sperling and Christine McFadden

Serves 2 generously, with leftovers, or 4 not-so-generously, with the need for extra side dishes

You will need:
2 pounds whole squid or 1 ½ pound tentacles, cleaned and peeled
3 T olive oil
1 large onion, sliced thinly
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1-2 sprigs rosemary (I didn't have rosemary on hand, so I used oregano with excellent results)
1 cup water and 2/3 cup dry white wine OR 1 ½ cup fish stock or water (I used the water/wine combo)
14 ounce can chopped tomatoes
2 T tomato paste
1 teaspoon paprika
2 T basil chiffonade
pound eggplant, gut into chunks (I used a couple of young Japanese eggplants and cut them into rings, leaving the skin on)
Parsley or rosemary to garnish (I garnished with chopped chives because I have so many of them on hand)

To make the stew:
Cut squid into ½ inch by 2 inch slices, and/or cut tentacles into two inch lengths. Heat oil in dutch oven and cook onion and garlic until soft. Add squid. Increase heat and continue to cook about 10 minutes until sealed and beginning to color lightly. The squid will not sear, like other meats, but will release a lot of water and firm up. Add red pepper, rosemary (or oregano), and wine or stock, bring to boil, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

Discard rosemary (or oregano) sprigs, add tomatoes, tomato paste, and paprika. Taste the soupy liquid for salt, and add it if necessary--you may not need any. Continue to simmer, covered, gently for 45 to 60 minutes, until squid is tender. In the last fifteen minutes, stir in eggplant chunks and basil then continue to simmer.

According to Dad, don’t shortchange the simmer time—at least 90 minutes total works to get the squid relaxed into delicious chunks. When the squid is tender and the sauce is rich, give it a good stir, adjust seasonings, and serve with crusty bread.

One delicious squid meal down, and a few more to go! I'm still open to suggestions.


foodette said…
Wow, that sounds so good. I am a little afraid of preparing squid on my own, but this recipe makes me want to try.
Anonymous said…
That looks really good. Never thought I'd be drooling over squid stew. If you want another recipe you can try takoyaki. Here's the link
I've never tried it but it looks good.
Wendy said…
That looks fantastic! The only time I have ever bought squid I followed a Bill Granger recipe for a light salad. It was fantastic. The recipe can be found at:
Anonymous said…
This blog rocks..I stumbled upon it once a few months ago and now have re-stumbled upon it.

I'm adding you on my blogroll at
Christina said…
Foodette: Go for it and try something new--it is worth it! I think you'll like it.

Anonymous: Thanks for the great idea!

Wendy: That salad recipe looks bright-flavored and wonderful. I'll have to give it a try.

Aaron Proctor: Thank you. I'm glad you keep "stumbling across" me.
Lucy said…
Squid is yum.

Glad that you found a use for that huge beast! Oregano would work even better than rosemary. Love this kind of fishy, slow cooking.

No sugestions, sorry, but I know Bill Granger's recipes well and Wendy's link might indeed be useful. Good luck.
Anonymous said…
Wow...I'm not sure I'm ready for squid yet. Kudos for your adventureousness (is that a word?)and it does look delicious! So I thought of a great recipe for you to try if you haven't already. Have you ever ate/cooked Baigan Bharta? It's an Indian eggplant dish that is very good. A few years ago I worked at an Indian restaurant in Santa Barbara that made this. It was really good! Add some Garlic Naan, maybe some Tandoori Chicken and a salad with Raita too...mmmm I'm making myself hungry.
Christina said…
Lucy: Thanks. After a couple days of squid stew (thanks to leftovers) and panfried squid with caper and lemon, I think I'm squidded out for a while. The rest of the squid is going into the freezer. But, I completely agree with you: squid IS yum, indeed.

Shea: Get out of my head! Bharta is one of my favorite dishes, and certainly one of my favorite eggplant preparations. I'm planning to include the bharta recipe I use later in the summer, when my larger eggplants start coming in. The Japanese eggplants are incredibly prolific, but they don't have the girth that I want when I make bharta. Thanks for the great, on-target recommendation!
Andrew said…
you are brave.

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