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Summer Starters from Spain - Crispy Baby Squid - 'Puntilla'
03 August 2016


The summer is here and the season for paella at the beach is full steam ahead, so I thought I would introduce you to one of my favourite starters, a classic and one that always gets ordered whenever we have a paella away from home: ‘Puntilla de Calamar’, unbelievably tasty, moreish and easy to prepare. The reason we love it so much, is not just because of its taste but also because it is a light starter that doesn't kill your appetite before a paella, which can often be quite a heavy meal.
 

 
‘Puntillas de Calamar’ are effectively ‘baby squid’ and are eaten all over Spain as a starter but mainly on the coast and normally they accompany rice dishes, as they are light and flavoursome. They are effectively like seafood popcorn and I just can’t put them down when I get going! With or without  a little squeezed lemon, they are just fantastic. 

 


 
You will need for 4 people :


800gr Young Squid – “Puntilla de Calamar” (they reduce in size by around 50% when cooked)
Wheat flour - Tempura 
Bread crumbs (optional) 
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt 

They are extremely easy to prepare and a few details need to be addressed to achieve the best results. Firstly you will need to clean and prepare the ‘puntilla’. This means removing the eyes, which we will then dispose of, and removing the the transparent tough membrane that goes along the inner body, effectively like a back bone and it just slides out when you pull on it. Then we thoroughly wash and dry the puntilla.  This is the first of the key points that need to be addressed. If the puntilla are not dry the flour with go all stodgy and cause a real mess. So before we flour the squid make sure it is completely dry.  

Now to flour the squid: You can use a sieve or a plastic bag, which ever you find easier. So place the squid in a bag or a sieve, salt them lightly and cover with flour and shake repeatedly, ‘tempura flour’ is best but any wheat flour will work. Hear comes another trick, although it is not always done and using just flour will work just fine, a good trick to get a nice and crunchy squid is to blend the flour with bread crumbs in a 50/50 mix. This will give them that crunchy edge which I love. Notice we are not adding egg here, we don’t want a batter, of any sort. Once the squid is completely covered with the flour mix we need to deep fry.

At this point we need to fry the floured baby squid ‘puntilla’. Lastly it is very important to make sure the olive oil is very hot, but not smoking. You can test the temperature with a small piece of bread, if it browns fairly quickly, its ready. The oil needs to be hot so the squid doesn’t soak up any oil and the flour crisps properly, so if you are doing a large batch be careful how many you put in the pan or the fryer as the temperature will drop if you place too many in at once so do them smaller batches and make sure you have abundant olive oil in the pan, so they can float. Once they are golden in colour, remove them and place them on kitchen towel. Dry them and serve immediately with a few lemon quarters.

 


 

 
So there you are, an extremely easy starter. Now this same technique can be used for many types of seafood such as Large squid rings – Calamari or even large prawns for dipping.


Enjoy!



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