Half Scottish, Half Japanese. Tempura Mars bar?

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I began writing this blog in October 2010 as a new father documenting food in his family. Before I knew it, I was in the final of MasterChef 2012. Now cooking is no longer just a hobby.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Squid salad with red peppers, burdock and romanesco

There are quite a few pubs along the river between Putney and Hammersmith bridges but most of them, in my opinion, are duds that are too complacent to offer anything but a good location. The Crabtree is an exception - we ate there for the first time on Sunday and were impressed with the food, the service and the atmosphere. We have never had to put "family friendly" on our list of criteria, but ours was not the only pram.

Jemma had roast beef, I had roast pork and we shared a sticky toffee pudding. So we only wanted something light for supper that evening. I scoured the fridge and decided on a salad of things that needed to be used up: some squid, some red peppers, some burdock roots that my mum had grown and a romanesco that I bought at North End Road market (a romanesco is a cross between a broccoli and a cauliflower). It's nice when you come up with something that you haven't seen before in a restaurant or a recipe book, but it doesn't happen that often and when it does, there's usually a reason it hasn't been tried before. These particular ingredients, by accident of being in the fridge and near their best by date, worked surprisingly well together so I thought I would post the recipe.

Serves 2
Time 45 minutes
Cost: £2.50 per serving


1-2 whole squid
3 tablespoons of plain flour
Salt and pepper
1-2 red peppers
Half a romanesco
2-3 burdock roots
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons mirin (or sake with a teaspoon of sugar)
Salad leaves

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons walnut or sunflower oil
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1. Put the grill on high. Put the red peppers in a roasting dish under the grill. Put some sunflower or vegetable oil in another baking tray to heat up.
2. Wash the squid and cut into rings or triangles. Dry with kitchen towel.
3. The skins of red peppers should have started to char under the grill. If so, turn them.
4. Season the flour very generously with the salt and pepper. Coat the squid in flour and set aside.
5. Cut the romanesco into small florets and steam over boiling water for 5 minutes.
6. Remove the red peppers from the grill and leave to cool. Put some oil in the baking tray and leave under the grill to heat up.
7. Cut the burdock root into shards or julienne strips. Fry in a little oil, then add the soy sauce and mirin. Lightly braise for 5 minutes. Burdock has a unique taste and you may find it in Asian supermarkets. If not, use celery, for texture.
8. When the oil is hot, add the squid and grill on one side for 2-3 minutes.
9. Remove the romanesco florets, cool in cold water and drain. Rinse some salad leaves and toss them with the dressing and romanesco. Place in a shallow bowl.
10. Cut the red peppers into strips, removing any seeds. Add on top of the salad leaves and romanesco.
11. Turn the squid and grill on the other side for a further 2-3 minutes.
12. Add the warm burdock shards and squid on top of the peppers.

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