Having just found out that a move to Spain is on the horizon for us for the near future I am becoming more inspired to try out new Spanish dishes. I am a big fan of good tapas – my favourite places for this in London are Boqueria and Barrafina – and I have tried to recreate some of the simpler dishes before. I have had Rick Stein’s ‘Spain’ book for quite a while but haven’t really made much from it. With a bit more time on my hands in the school holidays I had a look through and decided to try out the cuttlefish and meatball recipe here which appealed to my wholehearted love of squid!
As always I made a few adaptations to ingredients based on what I can get locally, but the thing I found most difficult was actually following the recipe in a logical order. It took me far longer than it needed to due to the order that I followed the instructions, so I have written out a more simple version below that I hope is useful if you try it yourself. I have never made a picada (traditional sauce used in Catalan cooking to thicken and blend sauces) but it was quite simple and was a nice way of thickening the sauce.
You could easily serve this for two people with some crusty bread for soaking up the delicious sauce, but I chose to have it as one of a few tapas style dishes meaning that I had lots of leftovers. It tasted really good the next day too!
Ingredients (serves four as tapas)
- olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced/grated
- one white onion, finely diced
- glass of white wine
- 200g ripe vine tomatoes
- one tablespoon tomato puree
- 150ml chicken stock
- 300g raw king prawns (I had already peeled ones but you could use the shell-on prawns for added glamour and flavour!)
- 375g whole squid sliced into thick rings
- 100g frozen peas
- 1 garlic clove, minced/grated
- one slice of crustless white bread (I used gluten free) soaked in a splash of milk
- a handful of chopped parsley
- a grating of fresh nutmeg
- 500g minced pork
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- one slice of white crustless bread (I used gluten free)
- one vine tomato
- small handful of parsley leaves
Method (doable in 45mins but allow an hour if its your first time)
In a large frying pan or paella pan sweat the onion and garlic for the sauce – it will take about 10-12 minutes on a gentle heat.
Meanwhile, in a separate frying pan start to prepare the picada. Fry the slice of bread and whole garlic cloves in oil until nicely toasted. Add these to the remaining picada ingredients to a blender (I used the mini insert for my food mixer but you could use an upright or hand blender). Once blended set aside.
Now go back to the sauce. Halve and then grate the tomatoes so that you are left with the skin that you will discard. Add the wine, the grated tomatoes, and the tomato puree to the pan and leave to simmer while you get on with the rest of the recipe.
During this time, make the meatballs. Scrunch together the milk-soaked bread with he rest of the ingredients with your hands until it is all mixed together. Roll into small balls (about 3cm in diameter) and fry in the frying pan you used for the bread earlier until they are browned on all sides (about 4 minutes).
Finally the seafood. Take the meatballs out of the frying pan and set aside. Use the same pan with new oil and turn up the heat. Flash fry the prawns, remove, and do the same with the squid. You want it to start becoming nicely caramelised which you will only get if the pan it hot enough – you don’t want to boil the seafood in it own juice.
Assembly time. Stir the picada and the stock into the tomato sauce and allow to thicken for a couple of minutes (it will still be quite a juicy sauce so don’t be alarmed if its still runny – thats what your bread if for dipping in at the end!). Add the peas and season (tasting of course) with salt and pepper. Finally scatter the meatballs, seafood and parsley and allow to come together and combine the juices for a few minutes before serving.
Serve the whole pan on the table and let everyone help themselves!