Fregola stuffed squid

We gathered for my father’s birthday last Saturday. All week I pondered on recipes for the occasion. The family loves seafood, so I had a starting point, but the  whole sea to work with! During the week I mentally gathered images of my favourite seafood recipes, but as always I leave it to the day’s produce to inspire me.

On Saturday morning I jumped in a cab, I was on my way to the Sydney Fish Market. The sight of seagulls and gathering crowds marks the spot of what has been declared as the world’s second largest seafood market, in terms of variety outside of Japan.

I make my way to my favourite fish monger, my eyes are struck by a neat pile of Loligo Squid, also known as Hawkesbury Squid. They have mottled pinky-purple skin, thin bodies, pointy fins with eight shorter arms and two longer tentacles. They looked so fresh, I ask and get an immediate response ‘it’s today’s catch’, I didn’t doubt it.  I was sold at the sight of them, inspired to make stuffed squids in a tomato broth with okra, and excited to see my father devour them!

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Recipe

  • 8 small squid
  • plus 16 toothpicks
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 350g okra
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 100ml sweet wine (like moscato)
  • 3 tomatoes, cut into dices
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • picked dill
  • Salt and pepper
  • 200 ml water

Stuffing:

  • 150g fregola, blanched for 6 minutes and drained
  • 2 tbsp dill
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 40g currants
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Preparation

Place all of the stuffing ingredients in a large bowl along with salt and pepper. Mix well and taste.

To prepare the squid, pull away the fins and gently remove the tentacles with the head, then pull away the cartilage and guts. Discard everything but the cleaned tentacles and main tube.

Gently press in the stuffing until three-quarters full, seal the tube with the tentacles and secure with two toothpicks.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium frying pan, add the squid and sear for 2 minutes on each side, until golden. Remove the squid, add 1 more tablespoon of oil and sear the okra until  slightly charred, for about 1 minute. Transfer out of the pan into a bowl.
Add the remaining tablespoons of oil to the pan, sauté the onions and paprika until soft. Add the garlic and cook for about minute. Add the wine and allow to bubble for about 2 minutes, add the tomato and paste, lemon juice, sugar, salt and water. Simmer until the sauce has thickened a little.
Return the okra and cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, sprinkle some paprika, and sprinkle some dill. Serve immediately and enjoy with it with a chilled pinot noir!

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