A few years ago, my Mum and I spent a week in Spain celebrating her [big] birthday. We took our time exploring the beauty of Spanish countryside on Gran Canaria, marvelling at Picasso’s abstract paintings in Madrid, gasping at Gaudi’s eye-catching architecture in Barcelona, but above all, we enjoyed eating our way through Spain.
Because there is no better way to explore a culture and get to know the people than through sharing a meal at their table.
It seems it was around the same time that the beautiful city of Sydney began it’s own love affair with Spanish flavours; many restuarants and cafes began incorporating tapas as well as more hearty Andalusian, Catalan and Basque dishes into their menus. Just as they were in Spain, many eateries are now offering seafood-studded paella, amazingly fragrant and fresh gazpacho, rustic tapas, bocadillos con queso (Manchego, of course), jamon, and not to mention churros!
The following recipe is my interpretation of what Spanish food is all about. On one hand it’s rustic in preparation and simple in ingredient choices: fresh seafood, cured pork, peppers, olives… But on the other, it couldn’t be more bold, colourful and full of passionate flavours. Just like Spain itself.
Squid and chorizo in a smoked piquillo pepper sauce
- 150g calamari tubes // or 1 large squid tube
- 1 chorizo
- 1/2 cup water
- 140g roasted piquillo peppers from a jar + the oil
- 12 cherry tomatoes // or heirloom tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp Spanish olives
- 1 tbsp baby capers + 1 tsp juice
- 2 tbsp tomato sauce
- olive oil
Slice chorizo and cut squid into bite-sized pieces. Score the fleshy side on the squid in a criss-cross pattern. Chop up piquillo peppers roughly and crush the garlic. Halve tomatoes.
Heat 1 tsp of oil in a heavy-based saucepan and fry off chorizo until lightly charred. Remove from pan and set aside. In the same oil (it will taste of smoked paprika, yum!), sear squid pieces. Add tomatoes, garlic, olives and stir until fragrant. Return chorizo to the pan, add capers, piquillo peppers, tomato sauce and water. Bring to the boil and lower heat to a simmer.
Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring and adding extra water if the sauce becomes too thick. It should have the consistency of a slightly runny pasta sauce when serving.
Serve with chunks of chargrilled sourdough or on a bed of rice for a more substantial meal.
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