One of the best fish buys is squid, which is never expensive. I use it for stir-frying, steaming or poaching. It takes well to oriental, Mediterranean or Indian flavourings and it makes all the difference to a fish stew, dropped in at the last minute. If you are put off by having eaten rubbery squid it is almost bound to have been the result of prolonged or fierce cooking.
Serve this dish with basmati rice and a crisp green vegetable or, if you want to eat it cold, simply accompany it with a green salad and crusty bread.
Unless the squid are very small, cut them into thin rings. Leave on one side. Put the tomatoes into a large bowl, pour over boiling water and leave for about 2 minutes, then drain, peel and chop up roughly. Slice the red pepper in half lengthways, discard the seeds and stem and slice the flesh across fairly thinly. Cut the chillies open under running water and discard the seeds and stem. Peel the garlic and chop both chillies and garlic up finely. Chop up the mint leaves roughly.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a flameproof casserole or deep sauté pan over a medium heat. Add the red pepper, garlic, chillies and tomatoes. Then stir in the tomato purée, orange juice and a sprinkling of salt. Cover and cook very gently, stirring often, for 15-25 minutes, until the peppers are completely soft and the tomatoes have turned to a thick sauce. Taste and add more salt and
Just before serving, bring the tomato mixture almost to bubbling, add the squid and cook, stirring, for 2-4 minutes only, just until the squid is opaque. Stir in the mint leaves and remove from the heat. Serve at once.
© 1997 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.