Calamari, cucumber, tomatillo

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Preparation info

  • Serves 8

    starter portions
    • Difficulty


Appears in

Mile 8: A book about cooking

Mile 8

By David Higgs

Published 2018

  • About

The salted dried cucumber gets this intense seaweedy flavour, which then softens on the palate and adds a fullness to the dish. These little calamari tubes are a great idea to put on the fire while it’s too hot to cook meat. Lovely little starter. You could just eat them straight off the coals.


Dried cucumber skins

  • 2 cucumbers – the skins
  • 7 g coarse salt


  • 240 g (or 32 small) calamari tubes – cleaned
  • 1–2 lemons – for squeezing
  • salt and pepper

Charred cucumber

  • cucumber flesh left over from making the dried skins

Tomatillo sauce

  • 125 g tomatillos
  • ½ medium-sized red onion – sliced
  • 1 green jalapeno
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 63 g cherry tomatoes
  • ice bath
  • 30 ml chicken stock
  • 2 limes – the juice
  • 10 g fresh coriander
  • 7 g fresh oregano
  • 3 g ground cumin
  • 3 g sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 12 fresh tomatillos – halved horizontally
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • 56 garlic flower petals
  • 24 chive flower buds
  • 2 celery bunches – washed, with outer layer removed
  • 16 g chives – rinsed, drained, dried and sliced into small rounds


Peel the cucumbers in ribbons (you need 24 for this recipe) and place the skins in a vacuum bag with the salt – reserve the flesh. Vacuum pack the skins and hang the bag at room temperature for 12 days. After 12 days, remove the skins from the bag and brush away any remaining large pieces of salt. Place the skins on a dehydrator rack and dehydrate at 54°C for 48 hours or until the skins are dark in colour and completely dry.

Rinse the calamari tubes and pat dry with paper towels. Grill for 30–40 seconds until tender. Remove from the grill and squeeze some fresh lemon juice over them. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Use the cucumber flesh reserved from making the dried cucumber skins. Shave 24 thin ribbons off the cucumber, avoiding the seeds in the centre. Lightly torch the cucumber until the outside is charred, and reserve until needed.

Grill the tomatillos, onion, jalapeno and garlic until soft and the outside is charred. Remove from the grill, and roughly chop. Transfer to a Thermomix and blend on high for 3 minutes. Score the cherry tomatoes and blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds or until the skin begins to peel back. Drain the tomatoes and transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Remove the skins from the tomatoes and transfer the flesh to the Thermomix jug with the remaining ingredients. Blend on high for 5 minutes until the sauce is smooth, and season with extra salt and pepper if needed.

Dress the tomatillos in olive oil and salt, and grill on both sides until soft and slightly charred.

Arrange each plate as you like or by following the photo. Per plate, use 4 calamari tubes, 3 ribbons each dried cucumber skins and charred cucumber, 5 drops (3 large and 2 small) tomatillo sauce, 3 tomatillo halves, 7 garlic flower petals, 3 chive flower buds, 7 celery leaves and a pinch of the sliced chives.