IT WAS A SPRING AFTERNOON AND WE HEADED TO A RESTAURANT JUST OUT OF SAN SEBASTIÁN LOOKING OUT OVER THE BEACH. WE WERE AMONG WELL-DRESSED FAMILIES IN A ROOM FILLED WITH SOFT LIGHT. CHILDREN WITH WET COMBED HAIR SAT WITH THEIR PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS. IT WAS VERY POLITE AND QUITE BEAUTIFUL. I WAS BROUGHT BACK TO MY SENSES, LITERALLY, BY THE SMELL OF A PLATE OF WHITE CUTTLEFISH IN BLACK SAUCE PLACED IN FRONT OF ME. I COULD SMELL THE SEA, SWEET ONIONS, BAY LEAVES, GARLIC, COOKED WINE — SENSATIONAL. SOFT PIECES OF BRAISED CUTTLEFISH SAT IN A RICH SAUCE OF ONIONS, WINE AND TOMATOES, TINTED BLACK WITH SQUID INK. NOT AN UNUSUAL COMBINATION, BUT IT’S THE WAY THE SAUCE IS COOKED THAT REALLY SETS THIS DISH APART.
To clean the cuttlefish, pull the tentacles out of the hood, cut off the tentacles just below the beaks and discard the top half. Remove the ‘wings’ and the skin from the hood, then cut the hoods in half lengthways.
Add the squid ink and stir for 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low-medium, stir in the wine, then cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until the wine has cooked out and the sauce has thickened slightly.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over high heat until the oil is nearly smoking. Add half the cuttlefish hoods and tentacles, season to taste and cook for 1 minute, or until light golden. Turn, season again and cook for another minute, then remove from the pan. Reheat the pan over high heat and repeat with the remaining cuttlefish.
Add the cuttlefish to the squid ink sauce and bring to a simmer. Add
Spoon the cuttlefish onto warm plates and spoon over a little sauce. Serve hot.
© 2009 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.