I intended to take my camera to the market this morning but I woke up with a headache and was panicked that I was going to miss the good selection at the fish stall.  I did remember the dog and my wheeled bag, which earned its keep today.  Apples, cauliflower, broccoli, leeks — all gorgeous.  But most importantly, I was on a quest for more cockles.  When the 4 year-old eaters in the house request cockles (!), I don’t argue.  Sadly, there were no cockles today and I came home with clams and a cuttlefish instead.  The small eaters liked the clams, but declared that they weren’t as good as the cockles.  Better luck next week?  Or am I going to be chasing ghosts all winter?  I forgot to ask whether they were done for the season.

Also, I really like saying cockles.


So about that cuttlefish. My trusted fishmonger promised me that I just had to cut it open here, scoop the guts out and that the little sucker would be good to go. I finally got around to pulling our cuttley little friend out of the fridge before dinner, and… let’s just say this was one of the few times when I have had absolutely no idea what to do with the crazy thing I had lugged home.

What are you looking at?

The body was unexpectedly (and confusingly) hard. There was no obvious place to snip as Obi Wan Fish Guy had led me to believe. So, I resorted to Google and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.  These instructions got it done, though I know my food background is somewhat pedestrian when I am humbled by instructions like “the bony ball of mouthparts can be squeezed out in much the same way as you would a squid.” Riiiight. Luckily, it turns out that if one squeezes what appears to be the mouth of a cuttlefish, it does indeed spit out a bony little ball of mouthparts.  Who knew?

Hugh (based on one meeting, I can call him by his first name, right?) notes that “it can be tricky to locate the ink sac among the rest of the messy, soft innards.”  Indeed:

I think I was meant to snip it out cleanly and reserve it for some elegant squid ink stained dish.  Better luck next time.

Now I will admit that the cuttlefish wasn’t a complete lark.  Last week I made a huge batch of chickpeas and had been looking for a seafood pairing for them. I came across a recipe by  Micheal Psilakis for octopus and chickpea confit salad, so the cuttlefish was perfect.

finished chickpea confit

Last night, I made the confit out of my pre-cooked chickpeas.  It was easy and transformed the chickpeas into a rich, buttery base for the cuttlefish.  Better still, I love how make-ahead components simplify assembly of an otherwise complicated dish.  All that was left to do tonight was clean and sear the cuttlefish.  Considering the cleaning was 20x more complicated than I was led to believe, I was so grateful that my chickpeas were done.  And that my husband had brought home a lovely bottle of red wine.  The end result was, thankfully, lovely.  Really, really lovely.  Thanks, fishguy, Hugh, MP… and lots of good handsoap.

Michael Psilakis Chickpea and Octopus (or Cuttlefish) Salad

One Thought on “Seafood Saturday

  1. Kate K on October 25, 2012 at 5:22 pm said:

    Kate! Love the recipe. I just printed it and can’t wait to try it, although I doubt I’m brave enough to try to clean my own cuttlefish. Also, your food photography is great! It’s tough to make food look appetizing (even good looking food) and you’ve done it. Natural light is really the key. I look forward to reading your adventures in cooking and life overseas.

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