Monday, 11 July 2016
Squid with baby courgettes, samphire and marjoram
I spent the weekend just passed on a whistle-stop visit to Brighton to celebrate my mum’s 68th birthday. And as is now tradition, I arrived clutching a bag of provisions to make lunch on the Sunday. Wherever they have lived, the kitchen has always been the central point of the house, and it was a total pleasure preparing food and catching up as they sat around the table with a glass of wine. As usual, I wanted to keep things simple and quick, just a few seasonal and tested ingredients together on a plate.
In the morning mum and I had driven to their lovely allotment on the hills overlooking the city, shrouded in the morning mist and spitting rain. There we collected beautiful courgette flowers, herbs, salad leaves and bulbs of garlic. They are always so humble about it, but I know how hard they work planning, digging, planting and watering, and I’m always blown away by the produce that flourishes in the neat beds and winds around geometric canes. It was exciting to collect food knowing that it would be on the plate within a few small hours.
First course out of my bag was a paper-wrapped package bulging with squid. Dad gasped. The man loves his squid, and some of my fondest childhood memories involve visits to fishmongers with him. Without fail, dad would always be drawn to squid, and we would rush home to fry them in a thin, crispy batter. On this occasion they were seared quick and fast, until charring at the edges, before being drenched in lemon juice.
I can’t get enough of samphire at the moment, so a few handfuls were also thrown into the mix. Combined with the incredibly tender young courgettes and a tangy dressing, they sat perfectly alongside the squid. This whole dish took about 15 minutes to casually put together, perfect for maximising time sat down eating together.
4 medium squid, cleaned
4 small handfuls of samphire
4-6 baby courgettes, with flowers if possible
2 sprigs of marjoram
1 clove of garlic
1 good pinch of dried chilli flakes
Extra virgin olive oil
Fill a saucepan with water, and bring to the boil. Fill a large bowl with cold water and add a good handful of ice cubes. When the water in the pan is hot, tip in the samphire and blanche for 20 seconds. Drain and transfer straight into the iced water to cool quickly. When cold, drain and shake dry, then add to a large bowl.
Tear up the courgette flowers (discarding the stamen). Slice the courgettes into long, thin batons. Add both to the samphire, along with the chilli flakes, the lemon zest and half of the juice, the marjoram leaves and the finely grated garlic. Pour in 2-3 tbsp of olive oil and a good pinch of seasoning and toss to combine.
Using a sharp knife, open up the cleaned squid bodies to create a flat sheet. Carefully score one side in a crisscross, and repeat with the wings. Slice the tentacles into a few pieces.
Bring a large, heavy frying pan to a high heat and add 2 tbsp of olive oil. When smoking hot, add the squid and a pinch of seasoning. Cook the squid, in batches if necessary, for one minute on each side, or until golden brown and caramelised.
To serve, layer the squid and the samphire and courgette salad onto each plate. Finish with an extra squeeze of lemon juice and a crack of black pepper.