When it comes to seafood, eating healthy, inexpensively, and sustainably is, to put it bluntly, really freaking hard. Fish that's good for the environment isn't easy on the wallet, and generally, cheap fish tastes little better than the mold lining Davy Jones' locker. So, in tough times, when I want briny goodness from seven leagues deep, I turn to crustaceans (crab), bivalves (mussels), and cephalopods (squid).
Low in fat and generally delicious, these scale-less wonders are solid options for those with little in the way of fundage. Squid in particular is one of my favorites, whether it's in a pasta dish or sautéed with a little lemon. Alas, I haven't prepared it much at home, due to roommate issues with the smell. I understand this. If 70% of my day was spent in a 10x12 space adjacent to the kitchen, I wouldn't want it reeking of mollusks, either.
As luck would have it, the roommates were out this week. So, I picked up a pound of cleaned squid ($6 at the farmer's market) and brought it home for a round of Mark Bittman's Squid in Red Wine Sauce. Squid is notoriously difficult to cook correctly over high heat, but Bittman's recipe avoids that whole boondoggle by employing a 45-minute braising time. The result is perfectly textured seafood with a deep, wine-infused flavor. I loved this stuff, and The Husband-Elect, generally ambivalent about eating marine life, scarfed it down like Homer Simpson incarnate. ("Tentacles ... mmm.")
Two quick notes if you should endeavor to persevere: first, while I'm usually an advocate of fresh herbs, dried thyme goes beautifully here. Second, the recipe asks for a fruity wine. I used Yellowtail Shiraz, which isn't exactly high-end stuff, and it worked really well. Plus, we drank the rest of the bottle the next day. Bonus.
So, next time you're searching for affordable fish, look beyond the fins. You might be pleasantly surprised. Of course, make sure the roommates are out first.
- Yield:serves 2 to 3
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 pound cleaned squid, the bodies cut up if large
- 1/2 cup fruity red wine, like Côtes-du-Rhône
- Several sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Chopped fresh parsley for garnish, optional
Put 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet with a lid, and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until lightly browned. Add the squid and stir, then lower the heat, and add the wine. Stir, add the thyme, and cover.
Cook at a slow simmer until the squid is tender, about 45 minutes. Uncover, season with salt and pepper to taste, raise the heat, and cook until most but not all of the liquid is evaporated. Stir in the remaining olive oil, garnish with parsley, and serve.