Squid Ink Calamari With Bulgur and Peppers

Hila Alpert

30 minutes

6 servings

Squid ink calamari & bulgur stuffed peppers
Illustration: Rotem Biksenspaner

“There is great magic in black food much like in this recipe, where the ink pockets dye everything,” Hila Alpert explains of the dish she chose, inspired by Amos Keinan’s “Book of Pleasures.” “Today I cook with squid ink a lot, but at the time, when I first read the book, I was very surprised to learn that it was being used as an ingredient.”

She adds: “I debated between bulgur and freekeh, but decided the smoky flavor would not sit well here and I have also grown somewhat tired of it.”

Discard the heads of the squid, but remember to first disconnect the ink pockets from them. Please note: the calamari will probably be ready before the bulgur but that’s ok. Once you mix them with the warm bulgur, they will reawaken.

Read more about the “Book of Pleasures” on the Asif Journal.

Ingredients

  • For the calamari:
  • 1kg / 2.2lb fresh calamari, uncleaned
  • A pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup white wine
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced 
  • For the bulgur:
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 red hot chili peppers, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 2 sweet red peppers, seeds removed and diced into small cubes 
  • 6 scallions, cut from the white part to the edge of the green part into 0.4-inch / 1-cm pieces
  • 1 flat teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coarse bulgur
  • 1 lemon, zested

Preparation

  1. Prepare the calamari: Separate the heads from the bodies, detach the ink pockets from the heads (they are attached to a lining which is also welcome in this recipe) and transfer to a bowl. Gently insert two fingers into the calamari’s body and pull out the clear sliver of cartilage and any small fish that may happen to be there. Rinse the calamari and dry well with paper towels. Slice into ¼-inch / 5mm thin pieces and transfer to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, pour the white wine over, and let soak for 10 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a deep pan over medium heat. Drain the calamari from the wine (but keep the wine), shake to get rid of excess liquid and fry the calamari, a handful of each time, for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the wine, reduce to a low heat and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the parsley, garlic ,and ink pockets and cook for 7 minutes.
  4. Simultaneously, prepare the bulgur: Heat the olive oil in a small pot over a low heat, add the peppers and fry until they soften, occasionally stirring, for about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the scallions and the salt, stir, and fry for 1 minute. Mix in the bulgur and pour boiling water to cover. Cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes as the bulgur continues to cook in the steam.
  7. Transfer the calamari to a serving bowl. Add the bulgur and lemon zest, mix gently and taste, adjusting the seasoning if necessary.

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