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.
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?
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.
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.