Cuttlefish croquetas

Makes about 20

I had this dish in a tapas bar in Seville and it was one of the best things I have tasted in a long time; in fact, I liked it so much that I put it on the menu at Fish House. It's a real surprise biting through the crisp breadcrumb coating and into a jet-black silky filling.

500g cuttlefish, cleaned weight, cut into 5-6cm chunks and lightly scored
A little vegetable or corn oil for frying
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
130g butter
3 large shallots, peeled, halved and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
150ml white wine
500ml fish stock
100g plain flour
5 sachets of squid ink (about 20g)
A squeeze of lemon juice
2-3tbsp plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
50-60g fresh white breadcrumbs
Vegetable or corn oil for deep frying

Melt a little vegetable oil in a heavy frying pan, season the cuttlefish and lightly colour on both sides, then remove from the pan and put to one side.

Melt 30g of the butter in a heavy-based saucepan and gently cook the shallots and garlic for a couple of minutes until soft, then add the white wine, fish stock and cuttlefish, bring to the boil and simmer very gently for about an hour or until the cuttlefish is tender. Check the cuttlefish at regular intervals as it may well take less time than this. Remove the pieces of cuttlefish and put to one side to cool.

In a clean, thick-bottomed pan, melt the rest of the butter, add the 100g of flour and stir on a low heat for a minute or so, then gradually whisk in the hot cooking liquor to avoid lumps forming, then add the ink, squeezing out as much as you can from the packets (you can swish them out in the stock first).

Bring to a simmer and continue simmering very gently for about 20-30 minutes (a simmer plate is great for this), stirring regularly so it doesn't stick to the bottom. The sauce should be really thick and gluey, almost the consistency of mashed potato. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, finely chop the cuttlefish and mix in with the sauce; re-season if necessary and add a little lemon juice to taste. Place the mix in the fridge for a few hours then transfer to a piping bag with a 1½-2 cm nozzle and pipe in long lines on a tray lined with greaseproof paper or clingfilm. Place the tray in the freezer for an hour to firm them up then cut them into 2cm lengths.

Have three dishes ready, one with the 2-3 tablespoons of flour, one with the beaten egg and the third with the breadcrumbs. Pass the croquettes f through the flour, shaking off any excess, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Leave in the fridge until required or you can freeze them on a tray then transfer them to a freezer bag and cook them from frozen as and when you need them.

Preheat about 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large, thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep-fat fryer. Fry the croquettes for 3-4 minutes, turning them as they are cooking with a slotted spoon, then remove and drain on kitchen paper. Serve immediately.

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