Extracting Squid Ink
Get your tentacles on ink that can be used for printing or cooking.
From the column DIY: Harvest It
Squid Ink Risotto
A classic way to show off your hard-won squid ink is to give color to pasta or rice. Here's an easy recipe for squid ink risotto with squid.
- Make the risotto.
- Prepare the squid.
- Add the ink
- Cook the squid.
Finely chop one medium onion and a handful of garlic, and sauté in butter or olive oil over medium heat until the onion begins to brown and stick. Add about 1/2 cup of white wine (regular cheap stuff is fine, but cooking wine is definitely not it's full of added salt), and stir to deglaze the pan. When the wine has cooked off, add 1 cup of short-grain rice and stir until the rice is coated with oil and warmed through. Next, add a handful of chopped parsley and 2 cups of stock (homemade, purchased, or bouillon cubes + water), stir, and reduce heat to medium-low to keep the pot at a low simmer. Stir periodically to prevent sticking, and add more liquid as necessary; I use both stock and wine. This should take about an hour, so process the squid while the risotto cooks.
Collect the ink as described in Step 3, then prepare the squid for cooking. Scoop any remaining guts out of the body, and remove the thin plastic-like quill. Rinse the body inside and out, then slice into approximately 1 thick rings. Add them to the bowl with the tentacles, drain any liquid, and cover the squid parts with a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic, and the herbs or spices of your choice. Let them sit while you finish the risotto.
Taste-test the rice every time you stir, and when it's just cooked through, add your squid ink. You can either strain it into the pot as described above, or simply dump it into the risotto with ink sacs and all. The sacs are perfectly edible, and unnoticeable unless particularly large. Rinse the ink bowl with a bit of water, wine, or stock, and stir the ink into the risotto. The rest of the ink should squish out and color the risotto, turning it a purplish-gray. The flavor is quite mild, and will likely disappear behind the stronger flavors in the risotto. If you want a strong or specific ink color, start by mixing your ink into a small quantity of risotto, then dilute the mixture with more risotto until you're happy with the color. The remaining non-inked risotto can be finished and served separately, or saved for the next day's fried risotto cakes.
Return your inky risotto to the stove, cook off the rest of the liquid, and stir in a pat of butter. Your finished risotto should be quite thick, fragrant, and inky, with no standing liquid. Now quickly pan-fry your squid parts in a hot, oil-covered pan. Add just enough squid to cover the pan, and stir it around quickly with your tongs or slotted spoon. Squid cook fast flip them as soon as the first side turns opaque, after about 4560 seconds, and pull them out of the pan as soon as the other side is done, another 3045 seconds. Be careful not to overcook them, as squid can become rubbery after more than a couple of minutes cooking. Alternatively, cook your squid for more than 30 minutes; the meat will soften, and the squid will be tasty again. (I'm lazy and prefer the 2-minute method.)
Serve a bowl of risotto covered with squid, and sprinkled with parsley, fresh ground pepper, and grated Parmesan cheese.
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