Ways with inky, tasty cuttlefish - The Best from Greece

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Posted on: 02/Apr/2012 The Best From Greece Culinair Cuttlefish flesh is white and tasty; as with all edible mollusks, it is extremely rich in iron. It doesn’t swim as much or as fast as its close relative, the calamari, so its flesh is more tender and it has more ink.

Cuttlefish (Sepia, or “soupies” in Greek) are found in nearly all warm waters and are fished the year round. Although their habitats are the coastal, sandy depths, they move into shallower water in Greece in June and July, tempting fish such as the blackfish (“rofos”) and common dentex (“synagrida”) into the shallows, much to the joy of spearfishermen.

Cuttlefish have a flat, oval shape with long side fins and 10 tentacles with suckers. They swim backwards by ejecting water out of their abdominal sacs. When threatened, they shoot ink from a gland to cloud the water around them.

Cuttlefish flesh is white and tasty; as with all edible mollusks, it is extremely rich in iron. It doesn’t swim as much or as fast as its close relative, the calamari, so its flesh is more tender and it has more ink.

The most common variety found in Greek waters is the Sepia officinalis, up to 30 cm in length. The dwarf cuttlefish (up to 16 cm) actually belongs to another family, the sepiolidae, and is particularly delicious.

Fresh cuttlefish comes from the Mediterranean, mostly from Greek waters. Prices start at around 8 euros per kilo. Frozen cuttlefish prices vary according to their size. Take care that the flesh is white .

As with the calamari, the more it is grilled, the harder it gets. If fried, it should only take about 6-7 minutes, on a hot grill just 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

They can withstand up to half an hour in a saucepan or in the oven, particularly if there is adequate liquid. They should be served hot if they are to be eaten tender.

Sepia ink

The ancients began using the sepia ink of mollusks to write and paint with. The Italians were the first to use it in cooking.
High in sodium content, the ink emphasizes flavors in dishes using pasta or rice, as well as sauces, which it also helps to thicken. It is generally accepted that cuttlefish ink tastes better than calamari ink.

To remove the ink from the cuttlefish, follow the instructions (right), remembering to use kitchen gloves. If it all seems too complicated, look in the supermarket for Italian pasta made with the ink.

Cuttlefish ink is also sold in many forms -- dried, in its natural liquid state and in a paste (for professional cooks).

If using the dried powder, use half as much as with the liquid. Use it to add flavor and color to fresh pasta, seafood sauces, risotto, soups or to enrich vinaigrette sauces for seafood salads.

How to clean cuttlefish

Using a sharp knife, cut the flesh away from one side of the backbone and gently push it out from the other side. Insert the tip of the blade carefully into the stomach sac and cut it from one end to the other. Carefully pull the head and guts out of the open abdomen.

Cut off the tentacles and keep aside, but discard the head and guts (or feed them to the cat). Carefully remove the ink sac to use in risottos or other dishes. Put the ink sac in a bowl and pierce it with a fork to remove the ink. Discard the sac.


Stuffed cuttlefish

Ingredients (for 6)

Six medium-sized cuttlefish (200-250 gr each), salted on the inside. (Don’t cut along the backbone but cut off the head as close to the body as possible and push out the guts.)
30 ml olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
1/5 tsp black peppercorns
For the stuffing:
Cuttlefish tentacles, finely chopped
2 medium-sized potatoes, cut into 1-cm cubes
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2.5 cups of sour frumenty (“xinohondros” or “trahanas”)
Bunch of rocket, finely chopped
30 ml olive oil
60 ml white wine
Freshly ground pepper, salt

Brown the onions over low heat for a minute, add the tentacles and potatoes stirring well, and then add the frumenty a minute later. Stirring continually, add the wine and a cup of water and let simmer until the liquid has been absorbed (about 15 minutes). Then add the pepper, salt and rocket and stir well.
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Stuff the cuttlefish and place them in a covered baking dish, add the peppercorns, olive oil and half a cup of water. Close the dish and bake for 50 minutes. Remove the lid and add the lemon juice and a little water if necessary and turn the cuttlefish over. Bake uncovered for another 10-15 minutes until browned.

Cuttlefish with sun-dried tomatoes

Ingredients (for 6)

1.2-1.5 kilos of cleaned cuttlefish, cut into 2-3-cm pieces, along with their tentacles.
300 gr sun-dried tomatoes, cut into 1-cm cubes (if salted, soak first)
2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped into 2-cm pieces
3 tbsp soaked capers
6 whole cloves of garlic
1 finely sliced garlic clove
3 tsp green peppercorns
1 tsp dried thyme
80 ml olive oil
125 ml white wine
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Saute the cuttlefish with all the garlic and green peppercorns in the oil for two minutes. Add the wine and stir for 1-2 minutes. Season and add the fresh tomato and half a cup of water; cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
Add the capers, thyme and sun-dried tomatoes and a little water if necessary, simmer for another 10 minutes.
Serve with rice (3 cups) or pasta (250 g), mixing it into the pot with the cuttlefish as soon as they are drained.





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