Friday, December 23, 2011

Cuttlefish Appetizer

Octopus, cuttlefish and squids (Cephalopods) are notorious for being tricky to cook. There are basically only two ways to cook them: very hot and short (under 1 minute) or long simmer, braze or bake, around 1 hour. Yup, that is a big gap to go from 1 minute if you miss to one hour! I have never tried the long cooking method before until now. Am I ever glad that I did try it! The cuttlefish came out so tender and buttery that I will use this long cooking method more often from now on. I have also read that pressure cooker gives excellent results and shortens the time three-fold so I will have to try this method as well.
For this recipe I used cleaned large cuttlefish tubes that I bought frozen in Asian supermarket. There were 2 tubes in a vacuum packed bag and were about 8” long and 3-1/2” wide with thick wall, absolutely ideal for my recipe.

Open up the cuttlefish and score the inside of the flesh in a crisscross pattern, being careful not to cut right through, then cut the cuttlefish into diamond shaped pieces. If you cut at angle the pieces will be very decorative, almost like a flower, once it is cooked.
To prepare a braising liquid: for each cup of cuttlefish pieces mix 2 cups of water, 1 cup of white vinegar and 1 Tbs. of Kosher salt. Place the squid in a pot large enough to hold the squid and braising liquid, cover the pot and turn on medium heat. When it comes to boil lower heat to simmer and continue cooking for about 45 minutes.
Strain the cuttlefish and wash under warm running water and then drain in colander.
While the cuttlefish is cooking prepare your pickling marinade by combining 1/4 cup of white balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup of olive oil and hot pepper flakes to taste for each cup of cooked cuttlefish (they will shrink by about 1/3). Place the squid in a jar leaving about 1/4 of empty space and pour marinade over the cuttlefish. Fill with white wine to 1/8” from top, close and refrigerate overnight. Serve at room temperature with crusty bread as an appetizer.

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