Wednesday, 6 February 2013

From Parker Quink to Nigella Squink and a dirty sink


Long ago are the days when we went to school armed with proper fountain pens, which we filled with real ink (Parker Quink).Gone too, the days when Portuguese fishwives bashed the living daylights out of squid on the rocks to tenderize it after having extracted the rich black ink.Nowadays its all too simple.You buy sqid ink in sachets over the counter from your peixeiro (fishmonger) or in the supermercado and you tenderize your squid by bunging it in the freezer overnight."Don't Knock It Till You've Tried It."
The whole point of this Nigella risotto is that it’s tinted black by the squid ink ( squink ). She had no desire to "lessen its impact with some pallid white wine". What’s more, squid ink is so richly, headily flavoured that nothing less than a robust red would stand up to it. While she was more than happy to eat it plain black, she couldn´t help feeling cheered by the "jaunty tricolore adornment" provided by the squid rings, red chilli pepper and parsley.

Squink Risotto as Nigella wrote it
1 litre/1¾ pints vegetable stock, preferably organic
8 tsp olive oil
6 spring onions, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled
250g/9oz risotto rice
125ml/5fl oz red wine
2 sachets squid ink (available from fishmongers or delicatessens)
1 fresh red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
250g/9oz (cleaned weight) baby squid, cut into fine rings
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
small handful chopped fresh parsley, to serve

Heat the stock through and keep warm in a saucepan over the lowest heat.
Warm 6 teaspoons (2 tablespoons) of the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat and fry the sliced spring onions until softened for 2 minutes. Keep stirring and don’t let them burn.
Grate in the garlic and turn up the heat. Toss in the rice and turn it in the oil so it is slicked and shiny.
Pour in the red wine and let it bubble up over the rice.
Adorn yourself with disposable gloves,( I am surprised Nigella forgot to tell us when she cooked it on TV) snip the sachet of squid ink and add to the rice. Carefully dunk the squeezed-out sachets into the separate pan of hot stock to get out any remaining ink.
Add and keep adding ladlefuls of the hot stock to the rice, letting one ladleful be absorbed before adding the next, stirring all the while.
When the rice has had 15 minutes, you can be less assiduous on the stirring front and get on with the squid.
In a frying pan, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil and the chilli until sizzling, then add the squid rings and cook, stirring or shaking the pan a little, for 3 minutes. Season with freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
By this time, the black risotto should be ready, so divide it between warmed shallow bowls or plates, top with the fried chilli and squid and scatter with the parsley.
The Verdict:
I found the overall dish, even after my embellishments to the original recipe, a little too bland for a main course plate. I think it would make a novel cracking starter.I used coriander instead of parsley and in place of the squid rings I used tentacles which made the presentation ten times more exciting and easier to eat.Having fried off the squid in chilli oil, I then dusted the plate with some dried chilli flakes and shredded some fresh chilli over the top of the risotto.And then dear Mademoiselle from Armentières, it was Hinky dinky parlez-vous  down to a pan full of smelly squink and an inky sink.

1 comment:

  1. Quink! There's a name you don't hear very often anymore. Ah yes, learning to write with a fountain pen was several circles of hell for me (that and Physics!) and inevitably would return home from school ink stained!

    Not sure what you can do about the risotto - except perhaps not make risotto but try some squid ink pasta with some really strong flavours!

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