I saw a Balearic recipe for Sobrasada and Cuttlefish some time ago and thought, “Ooh, that would be fantastic with ‘Nuduja!” The butcher had ‘nduja this week, he sells a whole one (about 450g) for about £7.50 – being cured it lasts for a long time in the fridge and a 2cm slice will cheer up most meat and fish dishes, along with making pizza taste spectacular!
‘Nduja is a soft, spreadable salumi from Calabria and looks a lot like sobrasada from the Balearic Islands, however, the taste is completely different. ‘Nuduja is made with pork, salt, roasted red chilli peppers and spices, tied up in a pig’s intestine, which is then smoked and left to cure. This salumi takes it’s name from Andouille sausage (relative to previous French rulers of Calabria), but the peppers it contains relate to the Aragonese (sponsors of Columbus’ voyage to the New World) rule over two thirds Italy, from 1442 onwards (and later Spain, when the Kingdoms of Aragon and Castile became joined by marriage). ‘Nduja has an umami smokey hot chilli taste that builds up slowly in the mouth – it gets pleasantly fiery without quite blowing your head off.
The fishmonger didn’t have cuttlefish, but he did have some cheap squid. The squid is a cephalopod, from the Greek word κεφαλόποδες, kephalópodes, meaning head-feet. Cephalopods are closely related to the snail (gastropods). Like octopuses, the squid has an elongated head like body with tentacles. They produce a black ink which can be squirted at predators, in order to confuse and escape from them. Cephalopods catch their prey with tentacles and take bites out of it with a two part beak, located in-between the eyes, at the body end of the tentacles. Squid can change colour in order to camouflage themselves and to attract a mate.
Squid with ‘nduja and clams recipe (serves 4):
5 medium sized squid
a handful of clams (optional)
a 2cm slice of ‘nduja
1 large Spanish onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
2 tomatoes (grated)
2 baby courgettes (Sliced)
1 red pepper (chopped)
1 dessertspoon tomato purée
1 large squirt anchovy paste
2 teaspoon parsley (chopped)
1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 bay leaves
a glass dry white wine
1/2 pint fish stock
the juice of half a lemon
Clean the squid, removing it’s inner organs and the beak – a good fishmonger will do this for you if you don’t fancy the job. Open up the squid tube and dry it with a paper towel. Score it gently with a sharp knife – don’t press to hard or it will fall apart! Caramelise the squid (brown slightly, both sides) on a smoking hot griddle or a barbecue. You may need a fish slice to stop it curling up. Cut the browned squid into chunks and save for later. I kept the tentacles whole.
Gently poach (sofreír) the chopped onion, until it is soft. This will take 20 minutes or so.
When the onion becomes sticky, grate in 2 tomatoes – cut them in half, shred the wet side and discard the skin.
Add the rest of the vegetables.
Crumble the slice of ‘nduja into the dish. If you can’t get ‘nduja, sobrasada is the next best thing, but the flavour is completely different. Semicured chorizo could also be used.
The ‘nduja will melt into the sauce.
Mix in the anchovy paste, tomato purée, wine, fish stock and herbs, followed by the squid. Save a little fresh parsley for dressing, later. Cover the cazuela or casserole and cook on the lowest hob setting for an hour, stirring occasionally.
When the sauce is done, scatter a handful of small clams on top and cover for 5 minutes, or until they open. Squeeze on the juice of half lemon and a sprinkle of parsley. Serve with pasta and allioli (on the side). Season with salt and pepper, as required. I recommend drinking a glass or two of Camino del Peregrino (an Albariño from Galicia) with the squid and ‘nduja.