Squid ink always remind me of a holiday. We spent our honeymoon in the Amalfi Coast where I enjoyed a beautiful dish of squid ink spaghetti with mussels and clams. One of my favourite memories of eating this silky, black ink is from a trip to Dubrovnik where it was simply smeared onto the plate under a pile of grilled and tender octopus. For our first wedding anniversary dinner in Madrid last year I had a wonderful dish of squid risotto with a load of squid ink drizzled on top. After a few scoops of the tender rice with soft bits of squid I soon had the squid ink mixed nicely into the whole dish and it was absolutely delicious. Squid ink is an extraodinary ingredient and adds so much complexity to a dish. It smells of the sea and tastes a little salty yet the flavour is mild enough without giving it a fishy pungent flavour. It really is a beautiful ingredient and one of my favourite things to eat in Mediterranean cuisine.
I had never cooked with squid ink before making this dish. To be honest, I rarely get the chance to even eat it when out in Berlin as I do not often see it on the menu. One of my favourite local Italian restaurants, Terra Sarda, that has a changing menu sometimes serves it and it never disappoints. But apart from the odd dish eaten out, squid ink is often an ingredient saved for the holiday. And while I think it is nice to have certain foods that you only really associate with being on holiday I also find it such a shame that we don’t cook with it more often. One problem is that it is not so readily available in supermarkets. In fact, it is fair to say that it is impossible to find in a German supermarket! I mean the German supermarket’s have only just really started to get fresh salmon in … squid ink might be taking it a little too far for now! But this past month I have been making more of an effort to visit local deli’s and smaller specialised supermarkets and came across fresh squid ink in Mitte Meer, a Mediterranean supermarket that sells plenty of delicious cheese, cured ham, salami, wine and olives. It also has a great fish counter with salmon, squid, scallops, octopus and much more on offer!
This is by no means a midweek meal unless you are cooking for a special occasion. While it is actually a very quick and easy dish to cook, the fresh fish does make this a more expensive dish. I have mentioned a few times that fish in Germany is hard to find and also very expensive. My go to place for fresh fish is the Galeria Kaufhof at Alexanderplatz, mainly because it is close to the office to stop by after work and also because it is close to home! But I will certainly be giving Mitte Meer a go next time!
I marinade the fish in some olive oil, chilli flakes, parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and a bit of black pepper. The fish literally needs just 4-5 mins in total in a hot frying pan or griddle pan so I cook the risotto first and then keep warm while I focus my attention on cooking the fish to perfection. Some squid ink risotto recipes also add some squid into the risotto but I just find this a bit of a waste to cook down such a beautiful piece of fish like that. I pile the fish up high on top of the black risotto so that it can be mixed together when eaten. I simply cook the risotto with some garlic, finely chopped onion, lemon zest, white wine and vegetable stock before stirring in the squid ink just before the end and then season with plenty of fresh parsley.
- 2 small sachets of black squid ink
- 100g risotto rice
- 100g squid (or 2 small squids) (bodies cleaned and then cut into thin rings
- 4 scallops
- 4 raw large king prawns
- Olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon plus the zest
- Small bunch fresh parsley (finely chopped)
- 1 tspn dried chilli flakes
- Salt/ pepper
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 small onion (peeled and finely chopped)
- 100ml dry white wine
- 700ml hot vegetable stock
- Add 2 tbpsn olive oil, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, half of the lemon zest, half of the fresh parsley and the chilli flakes to a mixing bowl. Add the fish and coat well. Season with black pepper and keep in the fridge until needed.
- Add a dash of olive oil in a large/ deep frying pan and then add the onions and garlic. Cook on a medium heat until the onions soften and start to brown. Then add the rice and half of the lemon zest. Mix well and then pour in the white wine. Cook until the wine has reduced then add about a quarter of the vegetable stock. Mix well and keep cooking until it is reduced then repeat with the next bit of vegetable stock and keep repeating until the stock is finished and risotto rice has absorbed it all. Just after you add the last bit of stock, stir in the squid ink (for around the last 5 mins). This will take around 25 mins in total. Stir regularly. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
- Heat a large frying pan or griddle pan. Once hot add the plate of marinaded fish with all the oil and seasoning. Cook on each side for just 2-3 mins or until soft and just cooked through. You don't want to overcook the fish.
- Plate up the risotto and then pile the fish on top. Scatter the rest of the fresh parsley on top and season with more black pepper if needed.