You need 3 things; super fresh squid, a cast iron frying pan and a lot of heat.
I get up at the crack of dawn a couple of times a year and drive to Billingsgate Fish market to buy squid that has come straight off the fishing boats. I buy at least 3kgs and freeze them. When I was there last week, there were both Scottish and Cornish squid. I went for Scottish as I assumed that the icy Atlantic Sea would make the squid more tender and flavoursome as they grow much slower in cold water.
Autumn is the best time to find British squid (Cornish or Scottish) in the fishmongers. The supermarkets don’t seem to sell British squid and prefer to import frozen squid from the other side of the world – I’ve tried to cook with this squid and it is very rubbery.
If you haven’t got a cast iron frying pan and you love your food to have that chargrilled flavour (steak, chicken, scallops, well anything really) then it’s worth investing (yes, they are expensive) in one. The reason for using cast iron is to get the pan incredibly hot and you need that huge heat to sear and cook the squid in minutes so it stays soft and tender.
You've probably ordered chargrilled squid in a restaurant and wondered how to replicate it home, this is how.....
Miraculous ingredients: very fresh Cornish squid, extra virgin olive oil
Squid, whole cleaned body and tentacles – at least 2 squid per adult
Extra virgin olive oil for frying
Sea salt and ground black pepper to season
Chilli, garlic and lemon oil
1 red birds eye chilli, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed with a garlic press
½ lemon, juiced
50ml extra virgin olive oil
Method Put the cast iron frying pan onto the highest heat setting on the hob and leave to get very hot while you prepare the squid, about 5 minutes.
Rinse the squid and tentacles and then dry well with kitchen paper. Cover generously in olive oil – I use my fingers to make sure every part of the squid is oiled, you don’t want them to stick to the pan. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
When the frying pan is very hot, pour a tablespoon of olive oil in and spread it all over the pan with some scrunched up kitchen paper. It should start smoking it’s so hot. Immediately add all the squid and tentacles and leave to fry for 2 minutes. Do not be tempted to move the squid around as it will have stuck to the bottom of the pan, tear and make a mess. It needs 2 minutes to form a chargrilled crust that won’t be stick.
Use long tongs to turn the squid and tentacles over and leave to fry for another 2 minutes. Take the tentacles out and leave on a warm plate, they’re done. If the squid is large you might need to turn the squid to chargrill on a third side for 2 minutes to make sure the whole of the outside is grilled.
Once the squid is cooked all over (the colour will change from a slightly translucent white to an opaque white), remove from the pan and leave to rest on a warm plate while you prepare the oil.
To make the oil; mix the finely sliced chilli, crushed garlic, lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl.
Drizzle a little of the oil onto the squid and enjoy with a cold glass of white wine and some bread to pick up the juices.
Preparation time 10 minutes, cooking 10 minutes, adult and children portion – choose the number of squid per person