Chipirons à la plancha

chipirons2

Grilled squid with garlic and parsley

Chipiron is the name for squid in and around the Basque region of southwest France. In this recipe, the squid are browned quickly on a very hot skillet or griddle (plancha) and flavored with chopped garlic and parsley.

For best results, use fresh squid — the frozen variety contains too much water and won’t cook properly. If at all possible, have the squid cleaned by your fishmonger, leaving the skin intact. If not, the task of cleaning them yourself with add several minutes to the preparation time. Click here for a video showing how to do this (not for the squeamish).

If you’d like some heat, add a little red pepper. In the Basque country, they use piment d’Espelette, a mild chilli pepper. It can be hard to find outside the region, though, and crushed cayenne, while more fiery, makes a fine substitute.

This dish may be served during cocktail hour, as a first course, or as a main course accompanied by a green salad, perhaps some rice and a bottle of crisp white or rosé. The quantities below will serve 2 people as a main course, 3 as a starter.

1-1/2 pound (700 g) small squid, cleaned
2 cloves garlic
several stems fresh parsley, preferably flat-leaf
1 lemon

1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of piment d’Espelette or crushed cayenne (optional)

Rinse the cleaned squid under cold running water. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the body and the tentacles into bite-sized pieces.

Peel and finely mince the garlic. Rinse the parsley, shake dry, remove stems and snip or slice the leaves finely to obtain about 2 tbsp. Slice the lemon into wedges.

Place a large, nonstick skillet or griddle over high heat. The skillet should be large enough to accommodate all the squid pieces in a single layer. If you don’t have one that’s big enough, either use two skillets or cook the squid in two batches.

Allow the skillet to get good and hot — this is the trick to ensuring that the squid pieces don’t get rubbery. Add 1 tbsp. olive oil. Swirl to cover the bottom of the pan.

When the oil is sizzling, add the squid. Allow to cook on one side for a couple of minutes until starting to brown, then flip over. Add the garlic, parsley and salt. If using piment d’Espelette or cayenne, add it now. Cook one minute more.

Remove from heat. Transfer to a plate or plates. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tsp. olive oil. Serve piping hot, with lemon wedges on the side. Serves 2-3.


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