Saturday, 2 March 2013

Tunisian stuffed squid


It feels absurd that it's already been two years since I lived in Tunisia and had the front row seats to  the upheaval that was the Arab spring. My friends there are not feeling too hopeful about the future (still) and it is commonly feared that they have merely made a transition from one tyranny to another. 




Lately my thoughts have been with Tunisia and the chaos that the country now has descended to. So, today the inspiration for the stuffed squid came from Tunisia.

For this I used a slightly bigger variety - 20 cm x 8 cm kind. Cleaning them only seems like a lot of work. Messy it can be, mind you (though I'm sure that eventually we'll manage to clean the kitchen curtains too...) And once you get the hang of it, it can be rather... relaxing.

Pull the head off, then pull the plastic-looking spine thing sticking out, remove any intestiney-mess left inside the tube, pull or cut of the fins and then pull the purple-coloured skin off. Trim the head-part right below the eyes, pop off the little ball in the middle and that was it! For stuffing squid (especially this size) you really need intact tubes, so I tend to buy a couple of extra, just in case. I clean them and freeze the cleaned tubes for later use and the broken ones along with tentacles separately for other purposes, such as salads, stuffing or croquetas.

This is an excellent waste-minimazing mission too: the leftovers from the cleaning are used for the stuffing and the ink is used to dye the couscous. Squid ink is sold here individually, too, and can be used to dye rice, pasta and mayonnaise, should you be in that way inklined (geddit? INKlined?) There's no need to fear the taste, it only has a hint of ocean, whereas especially for couscous it lends a beautiful, caviar-like appearance.


Serves 2


Stuffing:  

2 squids, cleaned
1,5 dl spinach
1 dl parsley, chopped
1 egg
1,5 dl squid tentacles and such leftovers
0,5 dl couscous (uncooked)
1,5 tsp mint
1,5 tsp dill
1 heaped tbsp sprin onions or chives
1 heaped tsb grated lemon zest
salt, pepper to taste


Sauce:

1 onion
1 tsp garlic, chopped finely
1 dl tomato concentrate
3 tsp harrisa paste
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp fennel seeds
6-7 dl water

Mix the ingredients for the stuffing and stuff the squid with it. Don't overstuff, as they might explode. Close the tube openings with a couple of tooth picks.

Heat some oil in a pan and fry the garlic and onion. Then pour in fennel, paprika, harissa paste and tomato concentrate. Mix well and cook for a while. Then add water and stir to a smooth sauce.

Place the squids into the sauce and cook on a medium heat for 30-35 minutes (depending on the size of the squid). Keep checking that the liquid hasn't evaporated and while doing that, spoon some sauce on top.

When cooked, slice the squid and serve with couscous and the rest of the sauce.

(Cook the couscous according to the instructions on the package. If using squid ink, 1 sachet is enough for 2 dl of uncooked couscous)






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