Now that summer is upon us, the barbeque gets a serious firing up. A perfect way to spend a lazy Saturday or Sunday, I sometimes struggle to see past the usual burgers, steaks, chicken drumsticks and kebabs. Often it can turn into a total meatfest. Recently though, we've been a bit more creative. Baby octopus, marinated in paprika, lemon juice and garlic get skewered, drizzled with oil and slapped on the hot grill so that it's tentacles curl up and you're left with juicy bodies with a bit of crunch. Razor clams have featured, the heat making their shells slowly open for the sweet tender meat to then be chopped roughly and dressed with lemon and olive oil.
I usually marinate squid in a citrus with some flavourings, score them and slap them on but have recently taken to stuffing them. Their little bodies, skewered closed with cocktail sticks become the perfect encasing for the fillings; able to withstand quite a high heat, they burst messily over your plate as you slice them. You can really make up the stuffing as you go along, but I think it's best to have some sort of grain in there to soak up all the juices. These are flavoured with chipotle and ancho chillis, so the rice was smoky and fiery all at once.
Dried ancho poblano chillis, which you can buy online here, are possibly my new favourite thing. It's a shame they don't come cheap but they have an intense fruity flavour while keeping a mild heat. Soaked in hot water, they collapse softly making them easy to chop or puree into a sauce.
Stuffed Baby Squid
1kg baby squid (I buy mine frozen from the Chinese supermarket - at £4.50 / kg they are quite a bargain)
2 cloves garlic
2 sticks of celery
1 dried ancho poblano chilli
1 dried chipotle chilli
1 tbsp tomato puree
100gr wild rice
A handful of coriander
Salt & pepper
Soak the cocktail sticks in cold water - this prevents them from burning on the barbeque. Bring a small pan of water to boil, and soak the dried chillis in the hot water in another bowl.
Dice the onions and celery and mince the garlic. In a frying pan, add a glug of cooking oil and cook slowly until softened and golden. Drain the chillis and chop finely, adding them to the onion mixture. Fry slowly for about 5 or 10 minutes. Add the tomato puree and the rice, stirring to coat. Add 100ml water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring every so often; if it's looking dry add more water. Wild rice is very forgiving so you don't need exact measurements of water. Simmer for another 10 minutes until the grains are tender and the mixture is moist but not sloppy. Take off the heat and season generously with salt and pepper. Squeeze in the juice of the lime and add the coriander, chopped finely. Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, remove the tentacles from the squid and chop finely. When the rice mixture is cold, stir the tentacles through. Stuff the rice into the squid using a teaspoon, carefully, and secure with a cocktail stick. Fire up your barbeque and when your coals are white, oil the squid and slap them on for 3 minutes or so each side.