I have an on going love affair with cephalopods.
Any menu featuring squid, octopus or cuttlefish is my paradise and if it features all three - then happiness quickly turns to agony re. choice. In Vejer we're spoilt for choice with availability of fabulous frito mixto in almost every bar and restaurant. Freshly deep fried Calamari with a squeeze of a freshly picked lemon has to be right up there as one of the best things ever. The area is well known for it's world class Choco's (cuttlefish), caught off the local shoreline
The sight of a racion of freshly fried Puntallitas can stop me in my tracks - it's almost as if those tiny tenticles are waving at me - come get me, come get me! And I do, with a glass of chilly Manzanilla in one hand, picking at these salty deepfried morsels with the other.
Freshly boiled Pulpo, served on warm sliced potatoes with a generous drizzle of fabulous Olive Oil, a scattering of the freshest Paprika and a sprinkling of sea salt has to be one of the simplest yet consistantly fabulous combinations.
Another irrisistable combination in my eyes is Arroz Negro. This week I made it with tiny baby chocos or Almendritas as they're know in town. It's a labour of love extracting each thick and crunchy backbone but well worth the effort. The ink from Chocos is far tastier and intense than ink from it's calamari cousin. If you're buying squid for arroz negro, try to ask for the ink sack from a cuttlefish. Excellent little sachets of ink are available from some supermarkets.
Chocos con Patats is yet another of my favourites. My good friend Linda in town asked me round to help her prepare the dish her way. While we were making it I thought - this could make a fabulous curry. A couple of days later I tried to do it and the result was spectacular.
I've kept to the traditional Chocos con Papas method of using shed loads of white wine, not a normal addition to curry, using a simple ready mixed curry powder, adding sachets of coconut cream and substituting sweet potatoes for white potatoes.
I served it to great applause to my regular Spanish Food Critics , Pepe and Fernando, using rice noodles but rice too would be great. This would feed 4 easily.
1 kilo cleaned and diced Cuttlefish
750gms sweet potato – scrubbed and diced roughly 1'' square
2 medium onions peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic peeled and chopped
1” square peeled Ginger chopped
3 tablespoons mild curry powder
3 tablespoons garam marsala
1 tablespoon sweet pimienton
A bottle of white wine
Sachect of coconut cream or a tin of coconut milk with liquid drained and hard cream retained
Sliced Spinach - optional
Chopped Fresh Coriander - optional
Peel dice and fry onions, garlic and ginger in a bit of olive oil. Keep striring for alomst 10 minutes until the onion looses it's acidity. Add the curry powder and garam marsala - stir for about 4 minutes. Add the chocos and stir for a further 3 mins. Cover with white wine and bring to the boil. You may not need the whole bottle to cover them. Always cook with wine you would drink. Once it's come to the boil and the alcohol has boiled off, add the diced sweet potatoes, pimenton and coconut cream. Perhaps you will need to add some water to ensure that everything is covered with liquid. Taste and add salt at some stage.
This will be ready when the sweet potatos are soft. At that stage fold through your sliced spinach and stir until wilted. Sprinkle with fresh corriander.