Calamar in its ink croquetas

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.squidcroquetapin

Spanish croquetas

Calamar in its ink croquetasIn 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

Calamar in its ink croquetasThe 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

Croquetas filling
  • Calamar in its ink croquetas1 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
Croquetas crust
  • panko or bread crumb (in a plate)
  • flour (in a plate)
  • 2 bitten eggs
  • olive oil (virgen) to fry
  1. Start by melting the onion into the butter in a pot at medium-low heat (5 minutes)
  2. When the onion is translucent, bring to high heat and add the calamari, garlic, paprika and cook for about 1 minute
  3. Add the flour and a bit of extra olive oil (if too dry) and cook another minute, while mixing
  4. 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)
  5. Let it cool, then leave it covered in the fridge overnight or a few hours to make the mixture moldable
  6. Add a the olive oil of your choice to a small pot or frying machine and bring to 185°C (365F)
  7. 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
  8. Make all the croquetas and reserve them on a pre floured plate
  9. 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
  10. Take them out on a paper towel, sprinkle with salt
  11. Let the croquetas cool 5 minutes before serving

Can be serve as tapas, or on a green salad. Enjoy!

Calamar in its ink croquetas

Calamar Ink Linguine on a spicy tomato sauceCalamari on an Ink Linguine with a spicy tomato sauce is a great way to spice up your next dinner. If you always wondered how those black ink pasta taste like but never got the guts to buy it and try it out, this recipe will make you buy them over and over again. Everyone is scared of those ink meals for some reason…I guess it’s the fact of eating what you usually write with, it just doesn’t quite belong in a plate. But I assure you, it’s quite the opposite. Since I’ve been living in Spain, they use the ink of cuttlefish for many of their traditional meals like squids croquetas in their ink, the arroz negro (black cuttlefish paella) or those black ink linguine. This recipe comes from my cooking school, well… we had to make the fresh ink linguine by ourself, so in this case, to keep it simple, I’ve just bought a pack of dry black pasta. This way the recipe takes about 20 minutes from start to finish.blackcalpin

Calamar Ink Linguine on a spicy tomato sauceThe taste of ink might worry some of you, but it doesn’t feel anything like tarry, earthy or whatever you believe your pen tastes like… no.. it tastes like a salty mineral water, or to be more precise it tastes like the sea. Although, making yourself the pasta with the fresh ink makes the sea factor more present, if you are comfortable with making your own fresh pasta, you definitely should make it for this recipe and add a tbsp of squid ink to your mix.

Calamar Ink Linguine on a spicy tomato sauceFor this recipe, I’ve used pre cleaned frozen squids, no need to defrost them either, when they are frozen and hard, they are way easier to cut with the mandoline into fine rings. Once cut, let 10 minutes pass and you’ll see; how fast those magically defrost. Finish it up by simply drying them up with a paper towel and they are ready to fry. Frozen squid is super tender when fried quickly at high heat. The muscles fibres in the calamar break down when they are frosted which leave their meat super tender, the trick here is to fry them fast and hard in olive oil for about 3-4 minutes, if you over cook them, it’s when they will get chewy… If this happens, you can always save them back, by letting them cook slowly (let say in this case into the tomato sauce) until they become tender again, for about 10-15 minutes.

Calamar Ink Linguine on a spicy tomato sauceI’ve used the most popular “spicy” dried pepper from Spain called “Guindilla” which is used to make the spicy paprika. It is still a fairly moderate spicy pepper, which won’t overwhelmed the sauce. Those peppers give some of the most iconic Spanish recipes like the gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimps), the bacalao al pil pil (cod emulsified in spicy olive oil) or even the popular Basques pintxo (tapa) called Gilda (a pickled guindilla, anchovy and olive tapa). If you do not find those precise peppers at home, simply chose a mildly spicy pepper or a touch of cayenne pepper to spice up your tomato sauce. Also, another aromatic for the tomato sauce is a single fresh basil leave, which you add at the end of coccion to give the tomato sauce an extra aroma. You’ll have to discard it before serving.

Let’s make this sea flavored pasta!

Calamari Linguine on a spicy tomato sauce

Makes 4 portions

  • 400g of ink linguine 
  • 400g of cleaned frozen squids
  • 400g of tomato purée or crushed (I used a can)
  • 1 guindilla dry pepper (or mildly spicy pepper of your choice to your taste)
  • 2 garlic cloves minced (1 for the tomato sauce and 1 for the squid stir-fry)
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 1/4 of a bell pepper cut into small dices (topping)
  • virgin olive oil
  • flat leaf parsley finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  1. Calamar Ink Linguine on a spicy tomato sauceStart by cutting the frozen squid with the mandoline 5mm cut, let the rings unfreeze on a paper towel
  2. Make a small cut on the dry Guindilla pepper
  3. Add some olive oil in a sauce pan
  4. Add 1 minced garlic and guindilla pepper to medium high heat, to release their flavors for a minute
  5. Calamar Ink Linguine on a spicy tomato sauceAdd the tomato purée, sugar, salt and pepper and let is simmer 5 minutes
  6. When the sauce is well infused, stop the fire, add the fresh basil leaf and cover
  7. Let it infuse for another 5 minutes
  8. During that time, cook the ink pasta in salty water
  9. In a wok or large pan, bring to high heat, add a 3 tbsp of olive oil
  10. When hot, add the squids (need to be really hot and enough oil)
  11. Add the other minced garlic, stir and cook for 3-4 minutes
  12. When done add the finely chopped parsley
  13. Serve the ink pasta on the spicy tomato sauce, topped with the garlic calamari, the pepper dices.

Serve with a lemon wedge and a touch of extra-virgin olive oil. Enjoy!

Calamar Ink Linguine on a spicy tomato sauce