Stuffed squid – Algarve’s Middle Eastern inherited recipe

While in London last summer, I had the pleasure to meet Bethany Kehdy at her book launch – The Jewelled Kitchen. This Middle Eastern cookbook was my travel companion back home, and I found quite surprisingly that the traditional Portuguese cuisine still honours on it’s repertoire at least two Middle Eastern inherited recipes: The Tomato soup with poached eggs (an Alentejo typical soup) and the Stuffed squid (a typical dish from Algarve).

The Jewelled Kitchen cookbook
The Jewelled Kitchen – a collection of Lebanese, Moroccan & Persian Recipes by Bethany Kehdy

The Portuguese versions of these two dishes are much lighter on spices. Spices were gold back then and only available at noble houses or convents, therefore I believe that the recipes were adapted to what was available to peasants.

While the Portuguese tomato soup with poached eggs (shakshoukah for the North African) keeps it’s inherited recipe untouched, the stuffed squid (stated by Bethany as an “example of the Levant’s flair for stuffing”) changes slightly by taking all spices out. The Portuguese version doesn’t use red chilli, dill leaves neither the lebanese seven spices, instead use as the only aromatic herb parsley. As per the stuffing we prefer the rice while the Middle Eastern recipe uses bulgur wheat.

With this recipe in mind and after several weeks roaming to the farmer’s market fishmonger for fresh squids and with the right size, I finally made it.

Ingredients
Serves 4 people
16 small squids
1 dl of olive oil
1 big onion
250g of ripe tomato
Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Parsley
16 wooden cocktail sticks

For Stuffing
1 big onion
2 garlic cloves
1 dl of olive oil
150 g of chouriço (portuguese chourizo)
250 g of ripe tomato
1/2 cup of rice
1 bay leaf
Salt
Parsley

Clean the Squids
1. Separate the tentacles from the bodies of the squids. Keep the tentacles.
2. Remove the guts from inside the bodies, and the coloured skin from outside.
3. Remove the two membranes from outside. Keep the membranes.
4. Rinse the squid under cold run water.
5. Rinse the tentacles and the membranes.
6. Chop the tentacles and membranes. Set them aside.

Squid tentacles and membranes
Set aside the squid tentacles and membranes for stuffing.

Stuffing
1. Peel and chop the onions.
2. Peel and chop the 1 garlic clove.
3. Peel and chop the tomatoes (keep the juices, do not drain the tomatoes)
4. Remove the skin and chop the chouriço.
5. Rinse the rice.
6. Chop the parsley.
7. Put a heavy saucepan on low heat, add the olive oil, the onion and the garlic clove, let it soft.
8. Add the tomatoes, and the bay leaf and let it cook, on a low heat.
9. Add the chopped tentacles, membranes and chouriço. Let it cook on a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Check the seasoning. Add fresh ground black pepper and salt if needed.
10. Add the rice, the parsley and stir for a few minutes. Remove the bay leaf.
11. Remove from the heat, let it cool before stuffing the squids.

Squid Stuffing
Preparing the squid stuffing
Uncooked stuffed squids
Uncooked stuffed squids

Assembling and cooking the squids
1. Stuff the squid with the mixture and secure using a wooden cocktail stick. Leave around 1/4 of the squid empty, otherwise while cooking the squid will crack.
2. Put a heavy saucepan on low heat, add the olive oil, the onion and the garlic clove, let it soft.
3. Add the tomatoes and let it cook, on a low heat, for 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Add the stuffed squids, sprinkle with parsley and cover with a lid. Let them cook for about 1 hour on a very low heat. Shaking the saucepan occasionally.
5. Check seasoning. Add salt if needed.

Serve with boiled potatoes, chips or rice.

Bom Proveito! (Enjoy!)

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