Squids in

Squid, glorious squid!! Squid is a versatile, underused ingredient that makes dishes that are easy to cook, impressive to look at,delicious to taste and it is a fine basis for a quick, easy supper that makes you look like a pro.That is why I´m telling you it´s time for a bit of squid pro quo.Apart from going to the dark side and using squid ink to add dramatic effect to your dishes, the most important thing to remember when cooking squid is that it needs to be cooked either hot-and-fast or low-and-slow to achieve that perfectly tender, springy-but-not-chewy texture—anything in between is going to result in unpleasantly tough meat.Sear it, boil it, braise it, grill it, fry it.And what do you serve it with? I usually consider the simplicity or complexity of my squid preparation when picking a side dish to pair it with. Simple grilled or quick-sautéed squid flavoured only with lemon, chilli and garlic can take a more involved side dish than a braised or stuffed squid. With the latter,something like a braised squid with tomatoes, wine and harissa, I try to keep any accompaniment rather plain, so it doesn’t interfere with the flavours of the main dish.I love the tiny pellet texture of Israeli-style couscous. It’s less fluffy and more like regular pasta than the standard couscous.You could use fregola but I preferred to lightly toast the cous cous for a similar result but different texture. Combine this with Tarator (one of Turkey's finest sauces) a creamy nut and garlic blend, and you have the makings of a fine squid dish.Although the true tarator uses walnuts, local cooks often make it with whatever nut grows in their area.I thought I would put an Algarvian spin on it and make it with smoked almonds.
Griddled Squid with smoky almond tarator and peppers
serves 6
3 red peppers 
olive oil, for brushing 
900g (2lb) squid (cleaned weight) 
juice of ½ lemon, plus lemon wedges to serve 
2 red chillies, deseeded and shredded 
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

25g (1oz) coarse country bread, crusts removed
4 tbsp milk
50g (1¾oz) blanched almonds
¾ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves
125ml (4fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil (Greek is good for this)
juice of ¾ lemon, or more to taste

200g (7oz) Israeli or pearl cous cous,lightly toasted before cooking
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp coarsely chopped coriander leaves
juice of 1 lemon
3½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small avocado diced

1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3tbsp lemon juice
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil   

2 garlic cloves peeled and crushed with tsp flor de sal
Stir the cumin and coriander seeds in small  heavy dry saucepan until toasted and fragrant (about 30 seconds).Remove from the heat and stir in the turmeric and cinnamon.Allow to cool completely.Grind in a pestle and mortar. In asmall bowl combine the spices with the lemon juice,garlic,and olive oil.Whisk to blend well.this dressing can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator for a few days.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F/gas mark 4. Brush the peppers, deseeded and halved, with olive oil, season and cook in a roasting-tin for 35 to 40 minutes, until tender and slightly blistered. I love the charred skin, but remove it if you prefer. Slice into strips once they are cool.
Make the tarator. Soak the bread in the milk for 15 minutes. Purée in a food processor with the almonds, spices, garlic and seasoning, adding the oil and lemon juice as you go. Add 75ml (2¾fl oz) of water and whizz again. It should be thick but not stiff, so add more water if needed. Check the seasoning. You might need more lemon.
To prepare the couscous, you'll need about 1 1/4 cups of water or bouillon for every 1 cup of dry grain.For a  a bit more flavour, toast the dried pearls for a minute or two in a bit of butter,or olive oil before cooking, just like you would do for making a risotto. Simmer the grains stovetop, covered, for about 10 minutes. The grains fluff up just slightly, and, like barley, they have more an "al dente" mouth feel when done cooking.Cover while you cook the squid.Wash the squid, removing any whitish gunge from inside, and pat dry. If they’re small, leave whole. Otherwise, cut off the wings and put them aside with the tentacles. Cut the bodies down one side to open out. If they are very big, halve lengthwise and score on the inside with a cross-hatch. Put everything in a bowl with olive oil  to moisten.
Heat a griddle pan until really hot. Season the squid and cook in batches, pressing down to pick up the griddle marks. It needs only about 20 seconds on each side to turn opaque and golden. As each batch is ready, remove it to a plate and squeeze lemon juice over it. Add the chillies and coriander once it’s all cooked and toss together.
Toss the rocket with the cous cous in the dressing, top with the squid and peppers and put a dollop of tarator on the side of each plate, serving the rest in a bowl. Serve with wedges of lemon.


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