Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Spanish Highs and Salt 'n' Papper Squid

I can say with the upmost certainty that we are absolutely loving Barcelona already and we’ve not even been here a week. It’s a whole new world of food inspiration and food exploration. The city is alive and kicking everyday, all day and well into the night. The pace slows slightly during the hours of siesta but not enough to stop any necessary shopping or eating. Tapas and Catalan restaurants abound; some great, some touristy and not so great, but you soon get the hang of spotting the good, locals-filled places, inviting you in with their thirst quenching mojitos, sangrias and Cava; and most importantly their tasty little morsels of mouth watering tapas. The new modern twists on old fashion-styled tapas are so far my favourites. They are inventive bursts of flavour on the end of a cocktail stick or in bite-sized portions. Perfect on a hot summer evening with a glass of something cold and clinking with ice as you people-watch under an umbrella, serenaded by a spot of live jazz. Music, food and shopping; we’ve been spoilt so far.

Funny how I thought that I was now becoming an early-to-bed sort of a girl; being 30-something, you know how it goes. However as luck would have it, it appears that I am still more than capable of dancing till 3:30 in the morning. And Oh how I danced! (a bit like no one was watching in fact – except they were watching apparently, all of them. Watch and learn people, watch and learn).

My next bit of news is that I have experienced my first Spanish market. You know what’s next by now – a plethora of market photos to patiently scroll through. Forgive me. Hey, you would too if you were there. It was ace. And it has coffee shops and bars and if you like, as the man next to Sian and I having a coffee at 9 30 in the morning, plainly did feel like, you can happily sit and eat tapas and drink beer or wine too.

‘Colourful’ seems a reasonably dull word to describe it. Inspirational it definitely was. I came back to the boat armed with the freshest squid and tortilla ingredients for the final crew lunch before we embark on our regatta sandwich diet. (The roof of my mouth is shuddering with the memories. A week of eating baguettes everyday deteriorates the hardest of gums. But from years of regatta baguette eating, I have learned the essential trick; turn the baguette upside-down. The softest side of the baguette then will not slice open the roof of your mouth on an everyday basis).

Salt ‘n’ pepper squid. That’s also Ace. And easy to make and the crew think you’re a genius. I never discourage that kind of thinking. Smile bashfully and soak it up. You never know when it’s going to stop.

This isn’t too painful in the mid-day heat either if you are as lucky as us not to have air conditioning – oh no hang on…

For salt ‘n’ Pepper squid you will need;

Fresh squid. For 12 people I bought 10 squid but that was as a side dish so you could eek that up to 15 or so if you would like bigger portions.
Sunflower or vegetable oil for deep frying
½ cup plain flour
½ cup of corn flour
1 tbsp rock/big salt
1 tbsp peppercorns


·        You can easily ask your fishmonger to clean the squid so all you have to do is slice the squid into rings or open it up and slice into 1 cm wide strips. Make sure you get the tentacles too – my favourite bit. If however you get your squid fully intact with ink, guts and skin then all you do is pull off the head which will be attached to the tentacles and pull out the insides of the squid including the funny plastic looking, lolly-pop stick-thing that goes all the way up inside it. Then peel off the purple skin, it comes off quite easily. Give everything a little rinse and hey presto, slice into strips as I mentioned above. The tentacle bit has the head and ink attached. Cut the head bit off which may contain the ink sack so that you are left with the tentacles. Make sure you can stick a finger through the skirt of the tentacles which will mean you’ve taken all the bits out that you need to. Easy. Rinse and pat dry with kitchen roll.

  •       In a large bowl add the flours and mix well. Then in a pestle and mortar, bash the peppercorns and   salt up together into a rough powder. Add this to the flours and mix.
  •         The squid might still feel a bit gooey but that’s ok, just bung it all into the flour mixture and with your hands toss well so that it is all well coated.

  •         Heat the oil in a large, deep saucepan. When the oil is hot enough to brown a small cube of bread in 30 seconds then it is time to fry the squid. I did small handfuls of squid at a time. It will take a few batch-fulls.
  •         After 3-4 minutes frying time, place the golden, crispy squid on a kitchen roll lined plate until you have got through the whole lot. Make sure the oil is fully re-heated after each batch before putting the next lot in.
  •         Serve with sweet chilli sauce, garlic mayo or a fresh chilli, coriander, lime and fish sauce dipping sauce like I did.

Our regatta starts on Thursday; the regatta crew is turning up as I type. We will be training with them tomorrow and Wednesday and then racing till Saturday. A short but sweet regatta.  The bit I worry about is the heat. It’s as hot as the sun here. Really that’s no exaggeration. And if there is no breeze out there when we’re ‘trying’ to sail, we’ll be doomed. There’s no shade or escape from the heat on a sailing yacht during a race. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Wish us luck. Thanks for reading and Adios Amigos!!


Ready-to-go Sangria