When I was in Los Angeles over the holidays I was hoping to get some fresh California Market Squid because it’s one of my favorite kinds of seafood and is the largest fishery in the state but was disappointed to find frozen Thai squid at Santa Monica Seafood. I’d already planned the menu so there wasn’t much I could do. Most of the squid you’ll find in the market comes from these frozen blocks whether from Thailand or California anyway. It’s very rare to find it fresh unless you’re getting it straight from the fisherman at the Greenmarket. Now that I’m back in New York I got my hands on a 1kg block of frozen California squid from a Chinese grocery store in Brooklyn. Such is the state of our modern food system.
This time of year there’s not much available in the way of local produce available so I opted to go for a total pantry lunch of Livornese style stewed squid from Marcella Hazan’s The Classic Italian Cookbook. Every home cook should have onion, garlic, Italian parsley, canned tomatoes and frozen peas in the pantry. Along with my newly acquired block of squid I was good to go. It just took a few minutes under running water to separate out enough squid for one serving before putting the rest of the block back in the freezer. Squid has a reputation for being chewy and rubbery but that’s mostly a function of how long it’s cooked. You either need to cook it really fast on high heat or low and slow. Figure less than 3 minutes or more than 30. I’m still trying to perfect the fast and high method but the low and slow is pretty foolproof. It makes a great light lunch served along with a slice of grilled bread.