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Fish and Shellfish, Mains

Seared squid with merguez sausage

HALIBUT cheeks and short ribs. Scallops and foie gras. Squid and pig's ears. Lobster and squab. Recognize the theme? It's surf and turf. For the guy shuffling chips at a Vegas craps table, hoping for a hot roller -- or ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes, plus 1 hour resting time | Serves 4

Mustard seed oil

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves

Step 1In a small saute pan over medium heat, combine the olive oil and garlic. Cook the garlic about 3 minutes, until it begins to brown slightly.

Step 2Add the cumin, mustard seeds and red pepper flakes and remove from the heat immediately. Allow the mixture to cool, then add the fresh oregano leaves.

Step 3Strain out 1 tablespoon of oil without seeds and oregano and reserve. Set aside the rest.

Squid, merguez and lentils

  • 1/2 pound squid, washed, cleaned and cut into about 1-inch rings, leaving tentacles intact
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1/2 fennel bulb
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup beluga lentils
  • 1 cup packed spinach, leaves only
  • 1 merguez sausage
  • 1 recipe mustard seed oil
  • 1 small tomato, peeled, seeded and diced (about 2 tablespoons)

Step 1In a small bowl, mix the squid with the garlic and season with one-fourth teaspoon salt and one-eighth teaspoon pepper. Cover and chill for one hour.

Step 2Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat the fennel with half a teaspoon of olive oil and roast until tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Allow the fennel to cool and thinly slice.

Step 3While the fennel is roasting, rinse the lentils and place them in a small pot with 1 1/4 cup water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer and cook the lentils until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Step 4Bring a small pot of water, with one teaspoon of salt, to a boil. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Drain and set aside.

Step 5In a small saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until lightly browned on all sides, about 4 minutes. Drain on a paper towel and set aside to cool, then slice.

Step 6Pat the squid dry and place it on skewers -- three rings plus a piece with the tentacles still attached on each skewer.

Step 7Place a medium-sized saute pan over high heat. Coat the pan with 1 tablespoon of strained mustard seed oil. Add the squid skewers to the pan and cook until lightly browned on both sides and the edges begin to curl, about 4 minutes. Remove the squid from the pan and set aside; keep warm.

Step 8Add 2 tablespoons of the mustard oil to the pan, including the seeds, garlic and oregano. Add the spinach, sausage and fennel to the pan and heat 1 minute while stirring. Add the lentils and tomato. Add 2 tablespoons more of the mustard oil mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook until heated.

Step 9On a large warm platter, spoon the lentil mixture in the center and top with the squid skewers.

Note: Adapted from Josie LeBalch of Josie Restaurant in Santa Monica. The restaurant uses sepia, but squid can be substituted. For the squid, you will need four 6-inch wooden skewers soaked in water for one hour. Merguez is available at select Whole Foods Markets and Bristol Farms stores.
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