Fresh Squids stuffed with cured pancetta, rice, onion, garlic and mini bell pepper dices on a wine-paprika tomato sauce.Fresh Squids stuffed with cured pancetta, rice, onion, garlic and mini bell pepper dices on a wine-paprika tomato sauce.

Spanish Style Stuffed Squids

The Catalan gastronomy has a ton of “surf and turf” traditional dishes for example the meatball with squids, the chicken and crayfish, the mar y montaña paella, etc. They call it : Mar y Montaña which translate to sea and mountain. This recipe is inspired by the Catalan surf and turf, although instead of using the traditional ground meat I’ve used a stuffing of rice, cured pancetta, onion, garlic and bell pepper dices. The sauce is an easy traditional one of fried tomato paste, garlic and paprika with a touch of white wine (or water) and a few flat leaves of parsley for the final touch. This recipe is my personal twist on the Catalan Surf and Turf, it’s not a traditional dish, however similar in taste.

Spanish Style Stuffed Squids

A Catalan Tradition

The Catalans are the kings at mixing up sea products and the land ones, thanks to their geographical situation. The first “Mar y Montaña” style meal I’ve ever tried in Catalonia was the albondigas con sepia, meatballs and cuttlefish. It was an odd combination for me at first but once the first bite was in, I understood why those dishes are so popular in Catalonia. They are fantastic! I know there are many sceptics out there, and it’s fine, surf and turf isn’t for everyone but before you say “no” for eternity. I highly suggest you to try any great Catalan dish and if you are still not convinced, then you’ll be able to surrender…  In my opinion Catalans make those combos of proteins like no one else does!

So let’s make some Mar y Montaña magic happen!

Mar y Montaña Stuffed Squids

stuffed calamari surf and turfIngredients
  • 6 medium size squids
  • 100g of cooked rice
  • 60g of cured pancetta cut into small dices
  • 1/2 onion cut into small dices
  • 1/4 bell pepper cut into small dices
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
The tomato sauce
  • 100g of tomato paste (tomato frito)
  • 75ml of white wine or water
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of spicy paprika
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  1. Start by cleaning up the squids (check this video for more details)
  2. Cook the rice in water or use leftover rice
  3. Cut all the ingredients for the filling
  4. In a small pan, soften the onions for 5 minutes in some olive oil at medium high heat
  5. Add the garlic, pancetta, pepper, salt and pepper and mix it all together with the rice
  6. Stuff the squids pushing down gently to fill the whole pocket, close the end with a moist wooden toothpick
  7. Add all the ingredients of the sauce at the bottom of an ovenproof pot, mix
  8. Add the stuffed squids over the tomato sauce and top with a touch of olive oil and salt
  9. Cook at 180°C (350F) for 25 minutes until the squid are turning golden
  10. Serve with a few freshly cut parsley leaves



Spanish Style Stuffed Squids

Arroz Negro with mini squids and shrimps

A famous dish in Spain, is the famous “arroz negro” made with the fresh ink of cuttlefish. I don’t know why they call it “black rice” instead of “black paella” since it’s done exactly like a paella and it usually comes in the paella pan… Nonetheless, this dark paella is my personal favorite of them all! I know it can be challenging for some, even for me at first, the color and the fact that you eat the cuttlefish ink… but if you are courageous enough to take the first bite. Oh my! You will discover another world! The ink actually is a mouthful of sea aromas, salty, it’s really a flavour of it’s own. But if you want to be submerged into that meal… you’ll have to be brave enough to take the first bite and then it will become one of those printed memories you always dream of going back to. I’m not kidding… it’s so sad sometimes that our minds blocks us from stuff simply based on color…

Arroz negroThe dish comes from Valencia, Spain. It’s usually made with cuttlefish, as I said earlier, and its ink, pepper, onion, garlic, wine and fish stock. I did a slightly different one, I’ve used mini squids (Chipironnes) and shrimps, which is not uncommon to see in Spain. For you guys at home, you can use whether cuttlefish or squid, frozen or not. As for the ink, I believe they sell small conserves online or check your local European market or fishmonger. In Spain, I use for one medium size paella, 4 packs of 4 g which are small frozen sachets, the equivalent of 1 big tablespoon of conserved ink. Don’t forget to serve this dish with napkins or towels since it can become nasty around you lips… but the mess this dish does is really recommendable! Maybe except for a first date…

So… let’s make this black Spanish delight!

Arroz Negro with Mini Squids and Shrimps

Makes 4 portions | Cooking time: 20 minutes | Preparation time: 10 minutes

  • Arroz Negro with mini squids and shrimps300g bomba rice
  • 500ml warm fish stock
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 16g of cuttlefish ink
  • 2 tomatoes, grate the inside of each half onto a cheese grater to collect only the juice and flesh (see picture)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into small cubesArroz Negro with mini squids and shrimps
  • 2 small onions, cut into small cubes
  • 2 garlic clove + 1/2 a garlic for the picada (the last step)
  • 1 hand of fresh flat leave parsley
  • 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp of sweet paprika (pimenton dulce)
  • salt, pepper
  1. Start by sauté (high heat) the squid and shrimp separately in olive oil
  2. Reserve (keep a few for decorations and the rest goes in the arroz negro)
  3. Bring the fish stock to simmer
  4. Mix a few spoons of fish stock with the ink in a bowl, reserve
  5. Add half the wine, 50 ml, to the bottom of the pan to collect the leftovers from the previously cooked shrimps and squids
  6. Once all the goods are in the wine, add the onion and garlic to soften
  7. Let reduce slowly the onions, and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes
  8. Add the tomato paste and let all its water evaporate, about 3 minutes
  9. Makes a well in the center of the pan and add a little extra oil and the bomba rice in there, bring to medium-high heat, mix constantly until the rice is translucent, about 1-2 minutes
  10. Add the fish stock, top the rice (a small finger over it) and let cook high heat the first 5 minutes, no need to move it
  11. Add the cuttlefish ink mix (from step 4), squids, shrimps, paprika, pepper cubes, salt and pepper, mix briefly
  12. Lower the heat after the first 5 minutes to medium-high heat, cook for another 10 minutes
  13. Make the “picada” (aromatics that goes at the end of coccion) in a mortar, mash into a paste the parsley, 1/2 garlic, salt and a touch of olive oil
  14. Add the rest of the wine, the picada and a bit of fish stock if missing, until the rice is al dente or to your like (the whole cooking process takes about 17 minutes)
  15. When the rice is al dente, stop the heat, and cover with a clean towel
  16. Let it absorbs all the liquids left for 3 minutes
  17. Serve with the reserved mini squids



Arroz Negro with mini squids and shrimps

Squids a la plancha

Squids or Calamari are such a nice light meal, so simple and fast to make. Just need to heat up a pan to high heat, add the squids, cook for 2 minutes… That’s all!  Although, if is you cook them too long… they’ll get chewy… but you can save them by continuing cooking them into a nice fish, wine broth (you can filled them up with shrimp or else) for 15 minutes and they will get soft again. (15 min for medium size calamari of 10cm body length, longer if bigger)calamarpin

Squids a la planchaBack in Canada, I wouldn’t enjoy eating them, because they would often be tough and chewy, but here in Spain, when you pass in front of those clear eyes fresh calamari at the market, you have to stop and buy. They are so delicious and tender, no need to fry them into that fatty batter, simply cook them, and maybe filled them with croutons, add a little salt, garlic, flat leaf parsley and olive oil on top and voilà! In Spain, they have those really small calamari, the size of a nickel, which make great tapas. If you ever visit Spain, I highly recommend the “Calamar”, “Sepia”(Cuttlefish) or “Chipironnes” (small ones), even if you’re not a fan of it back home… you’ll see, you might suddenly change idea trying those spanish calamari.

This recipe is so simple, the only difference here; with a traditional calamari dish, is the fried croutons. I love some crunch with my squids but not the fried batter. So… I do a kind of reversed batter, which is healthier. Those croutons are optional of course, I simply fried cubes of leftover bread in little olive oil, add salt to them. That’s it!

So let’s make those tender and tasty sea creatures.

Calamari a la plancha

Makes 2 portions

ISquids a la planchangredients
  • 6 squids (medium sized; 10cm body)
  • leftovers of bread *optional
  • flat leave parsley
  • olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • salt
  1. Clean up the fresh squids, pull out the inside, keep just the tentacles, take the skin off (the fresher the Calamari the harder it is to take off the skin), the spine, the mouth and fins off
  2. Wash the inside and tentacles well
  3. *Some people make shallow cuts with a knife before cooking them, I don’t… you decide
  4. Bring pan to high heat
  5. Add 4 tbsp olive oil (at that point you can do your croutons)
  6. Add the squids, not more than 3 at the time, otherwise it’s won’t cook fast enough.
  7. Cook at high heat about 1 minute each side, until light brown (if oil disappear add more, since they like oil)
  8. Cook the legs until light brown (less than 2 minutes)
  9. Reserve,
  10. Add garlic to a mortar with salt and finely chopped parley, make into purée
  11. Add the 4 tbsp of olive oil and mix
  12. Add the croutons into the calamar, top with the parsley, garlic, olive oil sauce and voilà!

Serve with aïoli for extra smoothness and a lime, Enjoy!