Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Squid and the Tale

This weekend turned out to be a fruitful one, despite having no actual plans other than to run errands around the neighborhood. I knew I'd make yet another stop at the Hell's Kitchen flea market (I think this may be an every weekend event) to buy some antique art for my kitchen wall. I ended up finding exactly what I was looking for at the very decent price of 10 bucks for a set of two round, framed paintings of fruits and veggies. Delighted with my purchases I decided I should explore my new 'hood a little more thoroughly. After all, if decorating and design bargains were just down the block, who knew what kind of bounty the rest of the area might be hiding?

So, I set off through the crowds of 42nd street and down the slightly more vacant back alleys behind the Port Authority bus terminal. Once a vast wasteland that I avoided at all costs, I soon discovered that this random place held everything I sought. In the near distance I saw a sign heralding a meat market, and incredibly intrigued by what I might find inside, I entered. At first I thought I'd walked into some kind of discount family store, but soon found myself in the first of several refrigerated rooms. First a dairy room chock full of butter, yogurt and milk, followed by a poultry room, and then a pork, veal and beef room. It was like a dream come true! After stocking up on French butter, a few rib eyes and several kinds of chops, I made my way back out onto Ninth Avenue in search of another untapped resource.

After several minutes exploring a West African store and eavesdropping on a very interesting conversation about stewed goat and palm sugar, I headed back out onto the street and discovered a fairly large fish shop. This place was great, and fully stocked with not only a variety of fresh fish and seafood, but also a wonderful selection of frozen seafood. All sizes of shrimp, scallops and even crabs could be found, but I opted for a nice long piece of fresh cod and a half a pound of baby squid. Beaming senselessly as I walked towards home with my purchases, I couldn't help but feel a slight skip in my step. I couldn't believe how scared I'd once been of this area and of moving here. In reality, Hell's Kitchen has turned out to be a culinary oasis among the red sauce desert surrounding it. Finally arriving back at my apartment I stowed all of my purchases and made a late lunch/early dinner out of my baby squid. I usually make this simple dish during the summer, but I just couldn't contain my excitement. It was a nice light meal, and perfect with a glass of fresh iced tea. Here's the very simple and easy recipe for grilled baby squid. It would definitely serve 2 people as a nice simple starter:

Grilled Baby Squid

1/2 pound fresh baby squid, cleaned
olive oil
juice of half a lemon, plus wedges for garnish

1. Heat a grill or grill pan until very hot, almost smoking. Drizzle or brush it with olive oil.

Salt and pepper squid and grill on both sides until cooked through. It will appear to swell and pop, that's okay. Remove to a serving platter when done.

3. Turn off the heat and deglaze grill pan with lemon juice and pour it on top of the squid. If you used a grill, just squeeze the lemon juice over the plated squid. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!


No comments: