Cuttlefish is very popular in Italy, where it is most often used for risotto nero. But why don't we eat more cuttlefish over here? There's loads of it out there off our shores, but we choose to buy squid instead which costs double the price. I'm sure that once you taste cuttlefish you will be convinced of its merits.
Many fish shops sell cuttlefish, but you may need to order them in advance. If you can't find them with their ink sacs, ask your fishmonger for cuttlefish or squid ink in sachets.
For the polenta
For the cuttlefish
1kg small cuttlefish
5tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
125ml white wine
To make the polenta, bring 1.5 litres of water to a gentle boil in a medium heavy-based saucepan. Add the salt. When the water returns to the boil, add the polenta in a fine steady stream, stirring continuously with a wire whisk so that no lumps form. Reduce the heat to medium. After a few minutes, when the polenta begins to thicken, turn the heat right down. Cook, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon, for 30-40 minutes. The polenta is ready when it comes away easily from the side of the pan.
To prepare the cuttlefish, pull the head and tentacles from the body pouch. Set aside the ink sacs and discard the transparent quill and other innards. Cut away the mouth and eyes. Rinse the pouch and tentacles under cold running water. Peel the grey membrane from the pouch. Roughly chop the tentacles and cut the pouches into 3cm rings or strips. Dilute the cuttlefish ink in a small glass of water, or use the bought ink.
Warm the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over a gentle heat until the onion is soft and transparent and the garlic golden. Add the cuttlefish and season with salt and pepper. Stir the cuttlefish in the pan for a moment, then pour in the wine and cook over a high heat until the alcohol has evaporated, no more than 2 minutes. Stir in the diluted cuttlefish ink and cook for another minute.
Ladle the polenta on to soup plates. Spoon the cuttlefish in its ink on top and serve.Reuse content