Sardinian couscous with cuttlefish

Serves 4
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The Independent Online

Sardinian couscous, or fregola, is an ancient type of semolina pasta that is particularly good in a salad or served hot with seafood. This unusual dish was typically served in fishing villages. Cuttlefish ink is pretty easy to come by these days, but order it in advance from your fishmonger to be on the safe side. If you can't find cuttlefish, squid will do a similar job.

200g fregola or Sardinian couscous
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large shallots, peeled, halved and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2-3 tbsp olive oil
600g cuttlefish, cleaned weight
6 sachets of cuttlefish ink (30g)
120ml white wine
250ml fish stock
60g butter

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 5.

Place the couscous into a small oven-proof dish, season and just cover with boiling water. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 15 minutes, remove and stir. Return to the oven topping up with a little water every so often until the grains have absorbed the water and swelled up; this will take about 30-40 minutes. Then stir in a tablespoon or so of olive oil and keep warm.

Meanwhile, cut the cuttlefish into 2-3cm pieces and the tentacles into similar-sized pieces. Heat the rest of the olive oil in a wide saucepan. Gently cook the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes, then add the cuttlefish, season and continue cooking on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes stirring every so often. Add the cuttlefish ink, squeezing as much as you can from the sachets, then add the wine and fish stock. Simmer gently for about 20-30 minutes, or until the cuttlefish is tender and the sauce has reduced and thickened. Cut the butter into small pieces, add and continue to simmer until the sauce has quite a thick coating consistency.

To serve, spoon the couscous on to warmed serving plates or bowls and spoon the cuttlefish and sauce on top.

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