Calamari (squid) in its Ink Croquetas (Croquetas de Calamar en su Tinta) is my personal favorite Spanish “Tapa” Croqueta. Made with the scary for some and divine for others, Squid ink to give it extra “sea” taste and this bold, dark color. Croquetas are considered tapas in Spain, and this “black squid” tapa version is one you should definitely experience whether in Spain or in your own place. Here is my version of it, I’ve modified slightly the original recipe and added a touch of spicy paprika and garlic to my croquetas which result into a lightly spiced croqueta, barely noticeable. You can also omit it, then you’ll be making the traditional squid croquetas. The spices are not overpowering, just enough to give the beloved calamari a little kick which I believe goes to perfection with this recipe.
In Spain, they have a wide variety of croquetas, ranging from cured ham (check my recipe), mushroom, cod, chicken, and so much more. If you go out on a “Tapas bars” crawl in Spain, the chances you’ll end up with a croqueta in your plate are high. Try to aim for the calamari in its ink one, they are an experience for the eyes, and the tastebuds. Spanish croquetas are composed solely with a thick bechamel and a protagonist ingredient (ham, calamari, mushroom,etc) resulting into a crunchy exterior croqueta with a super creamy and light inside that melts on the tongue. Compared to other types of croquetas, rice or potatoes filled types, which can result heavy and filling, the Spanish croqueta will let you some space for some more tapas afterwards. The Spanish croquetas might need a tad more preparation; a longer resting time for the bechamel filling to become hard and moldable but the overall experience of biting into this fluffy and airy yet crunchy tapa filled with flavors is just irresistible.
The calamari ink
The calamari ink can be a psychological barrier to overcome for some, but I assure you, all it tastes… it’s the sea; a salty black paste, that’s all. It’s nothing else but a color. I believe you can buy the ink online in small pots or european markets if you are lucky. In Spain, they use frozen fresh ink mini packets of 4 g each. Oh.. and for those who are wondering, yes your hands and tongue are going to turn black for a few minutes but it won’t stain you forever, so no worries. Although I would recommend an apron for the making of the croquetas, cause it can get messy.
Let’s make those Spanish black beauties!
Calamari in its Ink Croquetas
Makes 12 croquetas | Difficulty: medium | Preparation time: 1 night + 30 minutes
- 1 calamari (squid), skinless and cut into really small pieces
- 1/2 onion really finely chopped
- 60g butter
- 60g flour
- 1 tbsp of ink (or 8 x 4g packets) (until you like the color)
- 400ml of cold milk
- 1 garlic finely chopped *optional
- 1 tsp of spicy paprika *optional
- salt and pepper
- panko or bread crumb (in a plate)
- flour (in a plate)
- 2 bitten eggs
- olive oil (virgen) to fry
- Start by melting the onion into the butter in a pot at medium-low heat (5 minutes)
- When the onion is translucent, bring to high heat and add the calamari, garlic, paprika and cook for about 1 minute
- Add the flour and a bit of extra olive oil (if too dry) and cook another minute, while mixing
- Add the cold milk, the ink, salt and pepper and mix constantly with a whisk and wait until it thickens (when the first bubble of heat burst, take off)
- Let it cool, then leave it covered in the fridge overnight or a few hours to make the mixture moldable
- Add a the olive oil of your choice to a small pot or frying machine and bring to 185°C (365F)
- Make small balls of 3 cm with the filling, then drop in the flour, then the egg mixture and finally in the bread crumbs / panko
- Make all the croquetas and reserve them on a pre floured plate
- Add them to the oil carefully 4 at a time max (otherwise it lowers the oil temperature), let them cook about 1 to 2 minutes until light brown
- Take them out on a paper towel, sprinkle with salt
- Let the croquetas cool 5 minutes before serving
Can be serve as tapas, or on a green salad. Enjoy!