To make this squid-enhanced snack you will need approximately 15 minutes and these high-flying ingredients:
• 250g frozen squid tubes or steaks
• 1 big green chilli • 2 cloves garlic
• 1 lemon • extra-virgin olive oil
• fresh basil or parsley
• freshly ground coarse black pepper
• salt to taste
• half a loaf of fresh French bread
There are times, usually in-between meals, when the stomach cries out for more than just another peanut butter sandwich. And while a peanut butter sandwich is indeed one of the all-time great instant comfort foods, the demanding snacker needs greater complexity when snack time comes up on the internal clock.
Now the whole thing about snack-related hunger is that it requires instant gratification. Instant gratification is a bad thing, more suited to the very young rather than the urbane cosmopolitans who read this column. So, as they say in all the bad movies, baby, this one’s for you.
Begin with the bread. Cut a couple of slices on the diagonal. This geometric requirement produces a better-looking slice of toast and, given the small diameter of your average French loaf, a bigger slice as well. Place these in the toaster but do not toast them until the rest of the show is on the road.
Thaw the frozen squid tubes or steaks by placing them in room temperature tap water for 10 minutes or so. When thawed, pat them dry with a paper towel, then arrange them on the cutting surface. Take the point of a thin-bladed, very sharp filleting knife and score the squid flesh halfway through, creating a diamond mesh pattern on the surface. The purpose of this seemingly arcane procedure is to hasten cooking, given that an overcooked piece of squid changes almost instantly from high cuisine to old gumboots.
Now for the second and last little fiddly bit. Take the single large green chilli, slice it vertically and carefully remove every last little white pip. If your skin is very sensitive, wear rubber kitchen gloves for this procedure. Having removed and discarded the pips, finely chop the green chilli. Select a tiny bowl or a demitasse coffee cup and mix the chopped chilli with two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil.
Peel and chop the garlic; chop the basil or parsley.
Cut the scored squid into sections.
Note that you can buy squid already sectioned, but whole tubes or steaks allow you to score the flesh and so promote quicker, better cooking.
Heat two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a frying pan and when hot, add the squid and the chopped garlic. After 30 seconds add the chilli and stir-fry the squid for another 40 seconds.
Toast the bread. As soon as it pops up, put it on a plate and pour the squid over it.
Sprinkle the freshly chopped basil or parsley over the squid, squeeze on the juice from a quarter of fresh lemon, add a teaspoon or two of extra-virgin olive oil, dress with coarse black pepper, add a tiny pinch of salt and eat the darn thing.
Boy oh boy, does this beat a peanut butter sandwich! – David Basckin |fw