Warm salad of squid, chickpeas, olives, tomato and herbs with nutty za’atar

warm salad of squid, chickpeas, olives, tomato, herbs and nutty za'atar
It is difficult to conjure up a cracking meal with what can be only described as eff all. I am not a magician; I don’t even have the skills to do a basic card trick and I certainly do not possess the powers of alchemy.

What is not difficult though, is creating a cracking meal with what I was faced with tonight; fresh squid, herbs, spinach and tomatoes from the garden, our own marinated capsicum (peppers), olives, chickpeas and some za’atar with a bit of nutty addition for good measure.

If we are reading from the same book (but let’s face it; we are probably not. In fact I don’t think our books are even from the same library as I am ashamed to say I would’ve skipped on straight past the public book loan place and picked myself up a magazine from the news agent next door) we both know that there shall be a damn attractive salad emerge from this stack of ingredients. A fantastic, light, summery, still-trying-to-cling-on-to-those-last-few-warm-days type salad.

Anyway, you can see this shit is going to be good so I’ll get right on with the main event.

No magic involved here
No magic involved here

Squid and chickpeas getting to know each other
Squid and chickpeas getting to know each other

Eat it quickly... and without the children
Eat it quickly… and without the children

WARM SALAD OF SQUID, CHICKPEAS, OLIVES, TOMATO AND HERBS with NUTTY ZA’ATAR (serves 2 if you feed the kids toasted cheese sandwiches for dinner and then eat yours once they go to bed)

500g fresh squid, cleaned, scored in a criss cross (not Kris Kross. That would involve pants being worn backwards and that’s just weird whatever planet you’re from) pattern on the inside of the hood and then cut into 2x4cm pieces
1 cup cooked chickpeas (the ones from a tin are fine)
1 handful tomatoes, chopped
1 handful olives
1 handful roasted and marinated capsicum (peppers), sliced
A handful of fresh mint and basil, torn
2 handfuls of spinach, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons nutty za’atar (recipe follows)
A splash of oil
Juice of ½ lemon
Seasoning
A couple of beers or something white to wash it all down

• Get all of your mis en place ready before you start cooking because once you begin it’s all going to be over very quickly… yeah, a bit like your performance under the sheets last night
• Get a heavy based frying pan plenty hot. Add oil and then squid. Toss for 45ish seconds
• Remove from heat and add the chickpeas to warm through for a minute
• Combine with all other ingredients, dress with lemon juice and a splash of olive oil, season lightly and sprinkle with nutty za’atar-y goodness

NUTTY ZA’ATAR

2 tablespoons za’atar
2 tablespoons chopped almonds and walnuts

• Mix it all together and bam, there you go

Herb crumbed squid rings

This made my belly very happy
This made my belly very happy

We have just been to the Fisherman’s Co-op and procured ourselves a nice little bag of fresh squid. And how much did that squid cost us, I hear you ask. Well my friend, I am here today to tell you right now that it cost not a penny more than seven Australian dollars and thirty cents of the same nationality.

We have done our dawn fishing followed by a morning at the beach and the skatepark thing, so now is my time to sit back. As I write this (just for you) the kids are in two different rooms watching the same show in stereo. They don’t get to watch much of the picture box shows at home so I figure while on holidays they can pretty much do what they want… except catching pet snakes… or throwing dog poo at each other… or throwing dogs at each other… so they can’t to anything, but they can watch a little TV. And me? Well I’ll just sit back and have myself a cheeky beer, hit a few keys on my laptop (and I may even pay attention to what I’m doing so the words I form don’t resemble some kind of top security government code that only a kid with autism is going to be able to figure out) and convey to you a recipe for one of my all time favourite things to eat in the world. Ever.

Crumbed squid rings.

That’s right, crumbed squid rings. A childhood favourite of mine that has grown into an adult monster of an obsession. Like the Kaiju in “Pacific Rim”… a big monster just like that.

I remember when my younger brother Matt would come home from “squidding” with a couple of big squid or maybe a cuttlefish (it didn’t matter, it was all the same to us) in hand and mum would crumb the lot of it up, deep fry it and we would eat squid for the afternoon. I’m a big boy now so I get to eat squid whenever I damn well choose to. One of those moments shall be today. Look out sqiddy, here comes Uncle Grazza…

You know what? There’s a heap of herbs in the garden at this place so I’m going to chuck some of them in too.

The boats dropping off the squid at the Fisherman's Co-op
The boats dropping off the squid at the Fisherman’s Co-op
Seven bucks and thirty cents. Buying squid for bait is more expensive
Seven bucks and thirty cents. Buying squid for bait is more expensive
A few herbs from the garden
A few herbs from the garden
All crumbed up and ready to go
All crumbed up and ready to go
Time for you little suckers to get in my belly
Time for you little suckers to get in my belly

HERB CRUMBED SQUID RINGS

This recipe is per person… work that one out for yourself

200g fresh at fuck squid (this stuff was landed at 8am today. I saw the boats come in)

1 small handful mixed herbs; I had parsley, rosemary and sage, chopped

1 cup breadcrumbs

½ cup flour

1 egg beaten to with-in an inch of its life (these jokes* clearly never tire with me), or just beaten with a splash of milk, which may be more applicable here

Vegetable oil or something similar to shallow or deep fry

Seasoning

Chips, salad, mayonnaise** (yes, I fricking love mayo alright. It is my favourite condiment ever. Although I do love anything you could call a condiment, mayo always comes out on top… yes, just like your gay lover) and lemon/lime to serve

  • Clean your squid by cleaning your squid. Keep the tentacles because they are the best part
  • Slice the tubes (this is what we call the body of the squid) into 1cm rings. Guys, do not be tempted to put the tubes in the microwave for ten seconds and use them as a tool for masturbation. This is not conducive to a tasty meal or a good family lifestyle
  • Mix the breadcrumbs with the herbs and a good hit of salt and pepper
  • Now the squid rings go through the flour, and then the eggwash, and then the crumbs. If you fuck with this system it will not work
  • Heat your oil to 180C-ish (flick a few breadcrumbs in there and if they sizzle up to the surface quickly you’re good to go)
  • Now fry your squid in batches of 10 or so (I would suggest doing this with a shirt on even if you are on holiday. Hot fat. Lesson learned) for 1 minute, turning regularly. They should be crisp and golden. If they are pale and soggy you should probably put them under your bed with those socks that look much the same…
  • Put the first batch aside on paper towel to drain and repeat until you’re all done. These puppies have a magical ability to hold their heat for a while
  • Sort the chips and salad out all by yourself. Here is a recipe for mayonnaise
  • Don’t forget to put some lemon/lime on the side

*Could be loosely termed as jokes I guess

**You could put a few cornichons, capers and a bit of dill through the mayo to make tartare, or some ketchup and Tabasco to make marie rose (seafood sauce), some sriracha hot chilli to make something awesome, or add whatever you want really…

Paul’s Caul… Salt and pepper squid

Salt & pepper squid

There is always a huge disparity between dishes us chefs think of being our best and the dishes that the people (you) like the most. This for years has driven me up the effing wall but as I get older I say give the people what they want, unless what they want is genocide, in which case I say give them a cup of tea (that always sorts it). In 2001 I came up with a salt and pepper squid dish, now before you all get on your high horses, I realize I didn’t create the concept of s&p squid any more then I created the running man (although in both cases my interpretation is what sets me apart) my dish was…

‘Salt and Pepper Squid on a watermelon chilli and mint salad served with a ponzu and aioli’

This dish turned out to be so god damn popular I haven’t taken it off any menu I’ve written ever since, now I assure you there are many times I’ve wanted too and the hatred I’ve felt for this dish has been real and intense. But at the end of the day it is delicious and it has a pretty decent food cost so its made me some coin along the way.

Now a days you see S&P squid on every second menu you see, but most are shit and taste like rubbery pigs ears tossed in salt, now unless that’s what you want from your experience I will teach you a trick or two to make sure you get tender squid every time.

Now I hear you ask what is the difference between calamari and squid? Well I always thought that calamari was Italian for rings so in turn if you cut the tubes into rings then it was calamari…. I’ve since found out that I made this up and it is what we call in the industry… Bollocks!

Many chefs will tell you the only way to insure tender squid is to buy fresh… well I think the statement “the only way” is farcical and should only be used when speaking of the use of wheelbarrows…

“As I believe quite strongly that THE ONLY WAY to use a wheelbarrow is to pick up the handles and push”

Everything else in this world quite obviously has many ways in which to go about it… especially in the tenderization of squid like animals (is a squid an animal? Are fish animals? Holy shit I’ve just realized I learned nothing at school at all!!!!)

Back to what I’ve learned all by myself with no help from my Mrs Edwards my home ek teacher (home ek, I know I’m not spelling that right, but just can’t work it out, I mean cooking you do at high school)

I use frozen squid as its already cleaned, cheap and easily accessible, once I’ve defrosted it I slice it in two length ways (from top to bottom) then I score it on the inside… this does not mean I examine it closely and mark its quality out of ten, it means to cut groves in the flesh making sure not to go all the way through, you cut the grooves/slices about 3mm apart all along the inside of the tube then repeat on the same side but on a 45degree angle forming a nice kris-cross pattern… this performs several tasks, its allows the squid to cook quicker, it makes it look smarter/sexier, and obviously it goes without saying that kris cross will make you jump.

Now comes the science part of the process, so if you have a white lab coat whack that mother fucker on, as shit is gonna get all Dr Karl on your arse…
1. Fact 1 tropical fruit like kiwi and papaya have black seeds that contain enzymes that break down proteins
2. Fact 2 seafood and meat contain protein
3. Fact 3 I now think there was no need for the numbers written before the facts…
4. Fact 4 when I say fact I really mean assumption

So if you are clever then you would of stopped reading this post on line two, so I will assume that you are not clever and need me to continue with my explanation…
• For 1 kg of squid grab 4 kiwi fruit and take the skin off (this can be done with a spoon or knife, I prefer the combo)
• Simply mash the fruit up with your hands and rub into the scored squid tubes
• Leave for 4 hours
• Wash off very carefully
• Dry the tubes and cut each half into 6 pieces unless they are huge then maybe 8’s or maybe they are tiny then into 4’s (I use U5 this is squid size, feel free to ask for this size)

The tenderizing power of the kiwi is such, that if you where to leave the fruit on squid over night then it would just be a bucket of white mush, so be careful to set a timer and stick to it… you want it to be tender not so soft it resembles the texture of pre chewed macca’s!!

Now you have you tender squid ready for frying, I use a flour mix that is made up of …
1. Plain flour
2. Paprika (sweet not smoked)
3. White pepper
4. Salt
5. Sechuan pepper
And I just add quantities according to how it tastes and what colour I want to achieve, just add little of each to the flour and keep dipping your finger in and trying until you achieve what you think tastes good.

Now in a hot deep fryer or a large pot filled with hot oil, fry you squid that is tossed in the flour mix for a few seconds until it is crispy and has colour… then drain and if need be sprinkle a little extra salt on it.

So at this point you have created super tasty crispy S&P squid or as the Germans would say “uber tasty crispy S&P squid” and you can go off and serve this to your hearts content with whatever you want too… but I like to serve mine with watermelon, chilli and mint salad, why you ask? Fuck knows but I do …

Here’s how to make said salad…
1. Chop up watermelon into 1.5cm cubes (half a small watermelon)
2. Finely slice mint (1 cup full of leaves)
3. Finely chop chilli (as many as you want, 2 long red)
4. 2 tablespoons of chilli jam (we have given you recipes before, if we haven’t then google that shit you’re already on the internet so don’t tell me your problems)
5. Mix all together

That’s it pretty effing simple if I do say so my self… now I know my dish is served with ponzu and aioli but I can’t be fucked writing out recipes for them today but if you get stuck see point number four of the watermelon salad.

Hope this is a success and the dish then haunts you for life as It has for me, and for those still reading all the way to the end… I thank you

Food truly is the best shit ever part 2… the seafood feast

 

And now, the eagerly awaited (for at least two hours) gripping sequel to my last post*. The heart wrenching story of a man with a passion for food, a love for good friends and family, a hankering for a nice glass off something with an alcohol content and a strange magnetism toward midget circus freaks.

 

Here we go.

 

This is a seaside, old wharf, salty old sea dog feast not be be effed with. You don’t even need to prep anything, unless you’re keen to make your own tartare sauce and coleslaw… but I can condone shop bought varieties for this outing. All you really need is a good purveyor of fresh fish and a dirty old boat shed for your back-drop. Then it is this easy;

 

  1. Go into a shop that sells bread and buy yourself a loaf. Compliment the counter chick on how good she is looking while you’re there.
  2. Go into a shop that sells salad type things. Buy yourself some salad-y type things. This will impress the shit out of your girlfriend and probably increase your chances of another “fish feast” later on.
  3. Go into a shop that sells fresh fish (This will not work if you are at the road house in the back yard of the county’s biggest sheep station, you really need to be close to the ocean, or a decent sized lake at the very least). Buy yourself some kind of array of fresh and cooked seafood
  4. Take all of your supplies to the old boat shed and eat like a boss!

 

 

Prawns, oysters, calamari and other things are a good start
Prawns, oysters, calamari, chips and other things are a good start

 

I put a pile of shit into a roll. Just because that's how I roll...
I put a pile of shit into a roll. Just because that’s how I roll…

 

Don't forget the boatshed
Don’t forget the boatshed

 

 

*you can see that last post by simply clicking on the button that says just below

 

 

Cal the burger

Straight into it. No foreplay today folks. It’s Monday, I got things to do!

First get yourself a kilo of fresh local squid. This may not be practical if you do not live next to an ocean that has an abundance of seafood, and more specifically squid. If you don’t feel like a sea change or relocating your whole family for the sake of a burger… I think you should take a long hard look at yourself. When you’re done with the good hard look, maybe go out and find yourself a quality frozen product. Or even just use a budget, pre-crumbed, kinda doesn’t really resemble squid frozen squid ring, post it on Facebook and see if you don’t get torn to shreds by cooksuck.com.

Equal first or maybe secondly, get a nice cold beer to go with the weird spring storm that’s going on right now

Gently pull the tentacles and the guts and shit should come with them. Now remove the quill (the feather shaped internal fin or “bone”).

Cut the body just below the eyes so you have the tentacles and no other rubbish. Do not, I repeat do not be afraid of the tentacles. They will not creep up on you in the night and murder your family and goldfish. The squid is well and truly dead. They are tasty shit.

Cut the squid tube into rings and crumb that shit up. Drink a cold beer as you go.

Fry the squid in batches so you don’t take all the heat from the oil and have them stewing away in a greasy broth. 35-40 seconds should be sufficient to get them nice and crisp and golden brown. Too much longer than that and they’ll start to toughen up. Let the oil come back up to temp after each batch. 180C is good if you have a thermometer otherwise test it with your finger and if it burns the crap out of you it’s good to go!

Serve on some kind of bread receptacle with iceberg lettuce and jalapeño mayonnaise (recipe follows).

Jalapeño mayonnaise
2 tablespoons jalapeños
4-5 tablespoons homemade or good quality mayonnaise
• Blitz until combined. Not that difficult, eh?

Moby Dick.