Yum, Squid Ink!

What is it about squid ink that makes such a yummy sauce? The flavor is subtle and unique without being fishy, and the color, jet black, adds a visual richness to the sauce. Ever since I first tried squid ink sauce in Spain, chipirones en su tinta, I’ve wanted to try cooking with this black gold. In the U.S. you can buy it from such sources as La Tienda. If you are lucky enough to get it fresh, like we were at the Catania fish market in Sicily, have fun getting the blackness into the sauce and not all over you. Either way you’ll be rewarded with black, silky heaven!

Pasta al nero di seppia
Pasta with cuttlefish ink sauce
Based on the recipe in La Cucina Siciliana by Alba Allotta

1lb spaghetti, cooked in salted water
Olive oil for sautéing
1 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup tomato sauce
1 lb cuttlefish or squid
Ink sacks removed from cuttlefish or 3 4-gram packets of squid ink
2 T parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Generally in the U.S. squid is sold already cleaned, if not, clean the cuttlefish or squid removing the guts, eye and hard plastic like bone. Be careful to save the ink sacks. Chop the squid or cuttlefish into small pieces.  In a skillet large enough to hold the finished sauce, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion over medium heat until soft and beginning to color, about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and sauté a minute or two more. Add the squid or cuttlefish and continue cooking for a few more minutes. Add the tomato sauce and parsley and bring to a boil. Let simmer for about 25 minutes over low heat until the squid or cuttlefish is tender, adding a little hot water if the sauce becomes too thick. Add the squid ink from the ink sacks or packets and let simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes to meld the flavors. Correct the seasoning and serve over pasta.

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