Grilled Cuttlefish, Eggplant with Salsa Piccante

In Australia, cuttlefish have mostly been used as bait or for aquaculture feed. Sure, you’ll see them occasionally on restaurant menus and at the fish market, but this cephalopod is seen mostly as a poor cousin to it’s famous relative, the squid or calamari.
Cuttlefish flesh is thicker than calamari, and coarser grained so it can take a little more cooking and is ideal braised, in a soup or a curry. It seems to work well with robust flavours so there’s no need to worry about overpowering it.

But, think of this all you calamari lovers, they put chemicals with the calamari to soften the flesh, and what are you eating!

Cuttlefish contain an ink sac and the ink contained within was used in early photography to attain the distinctive sepia tone. This ink is also a delicacy used to colour and flavour all manner of dishes from risotto to pasta.

In Venice, cuttlefish are cleaned and sliced and fried gently in a pot with chopped onion and parsley, chopped ripe tomato is then added as well as a teaspoon of cuttlefish ink. It is then simmered slowly for an hour or so, seasoned with salt and pepper and served with polenta.

Cuttlefish goes with

Extra virgin olive oil, butter, garlic, onions, chilli, soy and XO sauce, balsamic vinegar, fish sauce, ginger, shallots, spring onions, lime, lemon, tomato, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, asparagus, beans, fennel, olives, capers, parsley, basil, coriander, most lettuces and leaves, especially roquette, watercress and radicchio, mayonnaise.

Ingredients

500gr ripe tomatoes

juice of half a lemon

1 chilli chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

good handful chopped basil leaves

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 medium sized eggplant

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for frying

salt

250 gr cuttlefish, cleaned

 

Method

Peel and seed tomatoes and chop them roughly into 1cm pieces. Place in a bow, and add the lemon juice, chopped chilli, minced garlic clove and chopped basil leaves. Season, add extra virgin olive oil, stir well and allow to sit for 1 hour.

Meanwhile cut up the medium sized eggplant into 2cm cubes. Heat 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil on a grill or pan and fry eggplant until they have browned and softened. Season with salt and allow to cool.

Cut cleaned cuttlefish into 4cm square tiles, heat 2tbsp of extra virgin olive oil on a skillet and fry the cuttlefish tiles on high heat until they become golden. Serve on the salsa with the eggplant scattered over.

 

Serves four.

RENT MY BRAIN…THE SOLUTION

RAMSAY WITHOUT THE F word

I have been telling everyone that I know that I am writing a cookbook, tell you something it is easy to say, and hard to put it on paper, but I am getting there. It will be ready for print next year. Here is little snippet…… Remember all proceeds will be going to Alzheimer’s cure.
Dinner service… the dining room is dimly lit, warm and inviting, guests are arriving, ready to celebrate by sharing a meal of fine cuisine and great wines, they are encouraged to take their time, relax and enjoy the moment. Upon serving his guests, the waiter leaves the table as unobtrusively as he arrived and glides back into the kitchen. He pushes through the large fire rated doors into another world.
Have you ever wondered what it is like in this white tiled, stainless steel clad room? This is the battlefield, the lights are bright, the noise incessant, the communication is succinct, brash and often just plain abusive, TAKE AWAY… table 12 beef cover one, lamb cover two.. NOW! … come on are you deaf.. move… what are you doing? I said I wanted two quail, one salmon, you idiot not two salmon, one quail! Listen to the orders more carefully! Here the serenity of the restaurant in unknown.

With temperatures rising in the high 40 the kitchen brigade of culinary professional fight like any well drilled military unit. The lethal armour of salamanders, deep fryers, scorching hot stoves and boiling pans is their territory. The cooks on each section are expert in attacking the area in which they work and they do so automatically, firing dishes continuously until the orders begin to retreat or their ammunition… mine en place … is exhausted.

 

RENT MY BRAIN… THE SOLUTION

 

Squash Blossoms

Squash blossoms are a treat generally unavailable to all but home gardeners and habitués of farmers markets. The Prickly Pineapple team has sourced out these beauties. Both the male and female blossoms of winter and summer squash varieties can be used interchangeably. The male blossoms appear at the end of thin stems and can be harvested without curtailing production of squash. If using male squash blossoms, remove the dsc_1557stamens first. The female blossoms form at the end of the buds that grow into squash and are often harvested with the tiny, nascent squash still attached. Squash blossoms are edible raw or they can be incorporated into a variety of recipes. But once you’ve clipped them out of your garden or brought them back from The Prickly Pineapple, don’t dilly dally around for too long. “Squash blossoms live about as long as my cold carton of Corona’s—at worst a few hours, at best a few days, and only in ideal conditions,” To maximize longevity, Ramsay’s on the run recommends “rinsing them, letting them air dry on the kitchen counter, then wrapping them in paper towels, carefully nesting them in a sealed plastic storage container, and refrigerating them in the crisper at a precise controlled 4 degrees celsius.”

So we have prepared these little flowers, with the recipe below, it may sound a lot of work, but it is so worth it, but if you are feeling lazy, just cheat and mix a cream cheese and salmon mixture and stuff the flowers with it. Batter them with the batter recipe below. “Ramsay’s on the Run”, has been making some chilli jam which soon you will be able to buy it with our logo “Ramsay’s to Go”, look out for it in the future. I tried this Chilli jam with the flowers and it was divine.

dsc_1568

Squash flower fritters stuffed with Queensland mud crab, with green chilli mayonnaise

Green chilli Mayonnaise

2 tsp caraway seeds
2tsp coriander seeds
7 long green chilli halved, seeded and scraped
2 green bird’s eye chillies, halved, seeded and scraped
1 cup baby spinach leaves
250ml vegetable oil for frying
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
quarter of a cup coriander leaves
quarter of a cup mint leaves
250 ml olive oil
S & P

Lightly roast the caraway and coriander seeds until fragrant (3-4 minutes), allow to cool, and grind to a fine powder with a mortar and pestle. Sieve to remove the husks. Chop all the chillies very finely.

Heat the vegetable oil to 180C and fry the spinach leaves until crispy, drain on absorbent paper.

Place the egg yolk, white wine vinegar and dijon mustard in a food processor. Add the ground spices, green chilli paste, the coriander and mint leaves and the fried spinach leaves. Blend to a smooth puree. Slowly add the olive oil until the mixture emulsifies and thickens. Season with S&P

Squash flower fritters

18 flowers, with squash attached
quarter cup of chopped chives
quarter cup of chopped dill
quarter cup of finely chopped coriander
200 gr blue eye mousse
250 gr mud crab meat
1 lt peanut oil for deep frying
plain flour for dusting
900ml beer batter

Blue eye Mousse

150gr white fish
1 egg white
110ml pure cream
sea salt

Trim the fish of any skin and any blood. Dice the fish and put into a food processor, blend to a smooth puree and with the motor running, add the egg white. Pass through a fine sieve into a clean, chilled bowl and stir in the cream with a wooden spoon, season and place in fridge. Use within 24 hours.

Beer Batter

500 gr self raising flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp olive oil
500ml beer, preferably Corona

Sieve the flour into a large bowl and add the salt and olive oil. Pour in about one third of the beer and whisk to a smooth paste, Make sure there are no lumps, and gradually whisk in the remaining beer. Leave the batter to stand 20 minutes before use.

Carefully open each flower and pinch out the stamen. Place the chopped herbs in a large mixing bowl with the blue eye mousse and the mud crab and mix gently until well combined. Use a small spoon or piping bag to fill each flower about two thirds full, leaving space for expansion during cooking. Twist the top of each flower to seal, place on a tray lined with plastic wrap and put in fridge until needed.

When ready to fry the fritters, heat the peanut oil to 180C in a large pot or a small deep fryer. Place absorbent paper on a tray, hold the squash flower and carefully dust with flour, shaking off excess. Dip in the beer batter, then gently place into the hot oil, cook no more than three at a time, until the batter turns crisp and golden about 2 minutes. Remove and drain on the paper.

Place the chilli Mayonnaise into the middle of the plate arrange the flower on top and garnish with sprigs of watercress, with a lemon wedge.