This dish pulls from two food cultures I love immensely: Italy and Thailand.
I wanted a dish that was simple yet refined, which is so much of what good Italian cooking is about. At the same time, I wanted to add an element of surprise, which comes in the form of a little bit of funky fish sauce. Lastly, a good dose of acid from both vinegar and lemon juice, as well as heat from red pepper flakes, mimics the spicy Thai salads I crave daily.
What I ended up with is a dish of stewed chickpeas and celery that is topped with pan-seared squid, which is tossed with fish sauce, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and red pepper flakes. A last-minute scattering of celery leaves adds a nice bit of crunch and ties everything together.
To learn more, read "Fin City."
Squid with Chickpeas and Celery
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
1 pound squid, cleaned, bodies and tentacles left whole
2 large garlic cloves, mashed into a paste, plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
Salt, to taste
Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, undrained
1 fresh bay leaf
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced, leaves reserved
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Zest of half a lemon
Fish sauce, to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1. Place the bodies of the squid in a medium bowl. In a separate small bowl, place the tentacles.
2. In a small bowl, combine the garlic paste with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Evenly distribute the garlic oil to the squid and toss. Let the squid marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium pot over medium-high heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions. Season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute until softened, another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chickpeas and bay leaf; reduce the heat to medium and cook until the chickpeas are very creamy but still intact, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the celery and cook until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Season with salt and keep warm.
4. In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat, add half the squid. Season with salt and cook, tossing occasionally, until the squid is lightly charred and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and repeat with the remaining squid.
5. Place the squid on a cutting board and slice the body into rounds. Toss with the celery leaves, vinegar and lemon zest. Season with fish sauce and red pepper flakes.
6. Serve the squid over the chickpea stew. Top with a drizzle of olive oil.