I concede that stuffing squid isn’t the speediest of jobs, and will require a fair bit of patience, but the result is as delicious as it is visually impressive – kitchen time very well spent.
- 16 whole baby squid (700 g gross or 500 g cleaned baby squid tubes and tentacles), plus 16 toothpicks
- 60 ml olive oil, plus extra to finish
- 400 g okra, trimmed
- 2 small onions, finely diced (240 g net)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp sweet paprika, plus extra to finish
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 80 ml raki or ouzo
- 5 tomatoes, cut into 1 cm dice (560 g)
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 5 g picked dill
- salt and pepper
- 100 g bulgur, blanched for 1 minute and drained (275 g prepared)
- 20 g dill, roughly chopped
- 15 g mint, roughly chopped
- 10 g oregano, roughly chopped
- 1 courgette, coarsely grated (220g net)
- 1 lemon, zest finely grated
- 40 g walnuts, chopped
- 50 g currants
- 15 ml lemon juice
- 45 ml olive oil
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
First make the stuffing. Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl along with ¼ teaspoon of salt and some black pepper. Mix well and set aside.
To prepare the squid, pull away the wings and remove the tentacles and head, emptying the main tube from any cartilage or slime. Pull away the eyes, beak and anything else that feels hard or slimy from the tentacles. Discard everything but the cleaned tentacles and main body tube. Wash well and then pat dry.
Pierce the end of each squid tube before using your fingers to gently press in the stuffing. Once three-quarters full, seal the tube with the tentacles and secure with a toothpick.
Heat 15 ml oil in a medium frying pan, add the squid and sear for 1—2 minutes on each side, until golden. Remove the squid, add 1 more tablespoon of oil and sear the okra until charred, about 1 minute. Transfer out of the pan into a bowl, add ¼ teaspoon of salt and set aside.
Add the remaining 30 ml oil to the pan and sauté the onions, cinnamon and paprika for about 8 minutes on medium heat, until soft. Stir through the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the raki and allow to bubble away gently for 2 minutes before adding the tomato and paste, lemon juice, sugar, ¼ of a teaspoon of salt and 200 ml water. Simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened a little.
Return the okra to the pan and then top with the squid, pushing their tails down into the sauce. Cover with a lid and simmer gently on a medium heat for 20 minutes, until the squid are plump and the sauce has thickened and looks rich.
Remove from the heat and drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with some paprika, and finish with the dill. Serve at once.
View all the recipes from Ottolenghi's Mediterranean Island Feast.