Woodfired Salt & Pepper Squid
Often students on our wood fired cooking courses or fish courses will be reluctant to try squid saying they don’t like them as they are too rubbery. With a little encouragement, they are converted and say our woodfired salt & pepper squid is the best they’ve ever eaten! The high heat means the squid cooks so quickly that it stays tender and doesn’t overcook. You just have to trust that it will really be cooked (!) in a matter of seconds. In fact it will take longer to read the recipe or watch the video than to cook the squid itself! Woodfired salt & pepper squid really is the only way we cook squid now.
Lots of restaurants, like our friends at Rockfish and the Seahorse are serving squid now and lots of cookery writers are writing about it – some of our favourite fishy food writers are Rick Stein, Mitch Tonks and Nathan Outlaw. This means it’s increasingly easy to get hold of squid from your local fishmonger or supermarket. You can buy frozen squid tubes and then prep them yourselves and they do cook really well. If you can’t buy fresh but do want to use it, do contact Neil at David Walker & Son – he is right at Brixham Fish Quay and can overnight squid to you anywhere in the UK by courier.
We like to serve woodfired salt & pepper squid for a group of friends. Just pass round a bowl of peppery squid and some homemade lemon mayo – finger food at it best. But make sure you’ve got some finger bowls handy to wash messy hands!
Serves 6 as a starter or plenty for a crowd as nibbles
1kg/2.2lb squid, cleaned
3tbsp sunflower oil
2tbsp coarse seasalt
2tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
2tsp chilli flakes
Lemon wedges and lemon mayonnaise
- Slice the squid into 1cm/½” strips, rinse in cold water and dry thoroughly on kitchen paper or a clean tea towel.
- Heat a large cast iron pan in the oven on a bed of embers until super hot – this will take a good 10 minutes.
- While the pan is heating up, make the mayo (see the recipe below).
- Mix the salt, pepper and chilli flakes in a large mixing bowl so you can toss the cooked squid in it as soon as it’s ready.
- Put the squid in a large bowl with the sunflower oil with a good pinch of the salt, pepper and chilli mixture.
- When the pan is smokingly hot, put half of the oiled squid in it and stir fry it with a wooden spoon. It will take seconds to cook – it’s ready when the squid has turned a bright white colour. You may not even have to put the pan back in the oven as it cooks so quickly.
- Turn the squid into the bowl of salt, pepper and chilli flakes.
- Cook the rest of the squid in the hot pan in the same way and add to the already cooked squid in the bowl. Shake it all together with the salt and pepper and chilli flakes.
- Shake off any excess spices and put the squid in a serving bowl. Squeeze over a couple of lemon wedges and serve the woodfired salt & pepper squid at once with the lemony mayo.
Homemade mayonnaise is a fabulous accompaniment to your woodfired salt & pepper squid. It is so much better than opening a jar of the ready made stuff. Making it is one of those culinary things with a scary reputation however as long as you follow a few rules you’ll be fine. Once you’ve mastered making mayo, if you substitute the oil for warmed, melted butter you can then make hollandaise sauce. There – not so scary after all!
- All the ingredients should be at room temperature.
- Make sure to add the oil very slowly at first and as the mayo thickens up, you can add it in a steady stream.
- Use glass, porcelain or metal bowls and a metal whisk.
- You can make the mayo in a food processor but we find it’s difficult to see if the mayonnaise is thickening up or splitting as it all gets spattered round the outside so it’s actually easier to do it by hand and then you can see what’s going on.
- Once you’ve made your mayo, remember it’s got raw egg in it so eat it up quickly and keep it in the fridge until you need it.
1 egg yolk
Juice from half a lemon or 1tbsp white wine vinegar
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
1tsp mustard – we use French or grain mustard.
180ml/6fl oz sunflower oil
Salt and pepper
- Whisk together the mustard, egg yolk and lemon juice in a large metal, porcelain or glass bowl.
- Add the sunflower oil drop by drop, whisking all the time until the mixture thickens and resembles double (heavy) cream.
- At this point, start drizzling in the oil in a steady stream and keep whisking. The mixture will thicken up substantially and when you’ve used up all the oil, stop. If it gets very thick and blobby, add some more lemon juice to let it down and make it more manageable.
- Stir in the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper.
You can now add other flavourings too such as –
- fresh chilli or chilli sauce
- crushed garlic
- chopped capers, cornichons and chopped fresh parsley to make tartare sauce
- finely chopped fresh green chilli and chopped fresh coriander
- a little olive oil at the end for an olivey flavour or some chopped green or black olives
We do hope you enjoy cooking your own woodfired salt & pepper squid – do let us know how you get on. We’ll see you next week for our next Woodfired Weekly.