Bulgar stuffed baby squid with tomato and okraPrint Recipe
16 whole baby squid (700g gross or 500g cleaned baby squid tubes and tentacles), plus 16 toothpicks
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
400g okra, trimmed
2 small onions, finely diced (240g net)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sweet paprika, plus extra to finish
3 garlic cloves, crushed
80ml raki or ouzo
5 tomatoes, cut into 1cm dice (560g net)
2 tsp tomato paste
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp caster sugar
5g picked dill
Salt and pepper
100g bulgur, blanched for 1 minute and drained (275g net)
20g dill, roughly chopped
15g mint, roughly chopped
10g oregano, roughly chopped
1 courgette, coarsely grated (220g net)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
40g walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
I concede that stuffing squid isn’t the speediest of jobs, and will require a fair bit of patience, but the result is as delicious as it is visually impressive – kitchen time very well spent. Serves four
First make the stuffing. Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl along with ¼ teaspoon of salt and some black pepper. Mix well and set aside.
To prepare the squid, pull away the wings and remove the tentacles and head, emptying the main tube from any cartilage or slime. Pull away the eyes, beak and anything else that feels hard or slimy from the tentacles. Discard everything but the cleaned tentacles and main body tube. Wash well and then pat dry.
Pierce the end of each squid tube before using your fingers to gently press in the stuffing. Once three-quarters full, seal the tube with the tentacles and secure with a toothpick.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium frying pan, add the squid and sear for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until golden. Remove the squid, add 1 more tablespoon of oil and sear the okra until charred, about 1 minute. Transfer out of the pan into a bowl, add ¼ teaspoon of salt and set aside.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan and sauté the onions, cinnamon and paprika for about 8 minutes on medium heat, until soft. Stir through the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the raki and allow to bubble away gently for 2 minutes before adding the tomato and paste, lemon juice, sugar, ¼ of a teaspoon of salt and 200 millilitres of water. Simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened a little.
Return the okra to the pan and then top with the squid, pushing their tails down into the sauce. Cover with a lid and simmer gently on a medium heat for 20 minutes, until the squid are plump and the sauce has thickened and looks rich.
Remove from the heat and drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with some paprika, and finish with the dill. Serve at once.