Editor’s Note: We’d like to welcome our new columnist Cathy Erway to Nona. Cathy will be hitting Brooklyn Greenmarkets for Nona each week, picking out a particularly ravishing-looking seasonal ingredient, talking to the farmer who grew it, and speaking with a local chef about their favorite simple ways to prepare it.
We think Cathy is probably pretty darn qualified for this mission. She is the author of The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove, based on her two-year mission to forego restaurant food in the city and her blog, Not Eating Out in New York. Last spring, she launched a rooftop garden at Red Hook’s Sixpoint Brewery complete with egg-laying chickens and repurposed kegs as planters, which is the basis of her second blog, Lunch at Sixpoint. She hosts a weekly podcast on Heritage Radio Network, Let’s Eat In, which has featured guests ranging from Reverend Billy to Mark Bittman. She co-founded the documentary food film screening series, Hungry Filmmakers. She has written for Saveur, The Huffington Post, Edible Brooklyn and Brooklyn Based, and has taught cooking classes at the Greenmarkets, the Brooklyn Kitchen and WholeFoods. Whew!
Sooo…yeah. We’re pretty confident that Cathy’s one of the best people in the borough we could ask to serve up a weekly dose of Greenmarket inspiration.
This Week’s Greenmarket Highlight: Squid from Blue Moon Fish
By Cathy Erway
Squid. Calamari. Cephalopod. Not octopus, but close. These little buggers from the salty sea are more than good enough for a main course, yet it always seems to end up fried crispy like chips. I love fried calamari just as much as anyone, but squid are so local, plentiful, delectable and relatively inexpensive for seafood, that I thought, why not eat them more, and in more creative ways?
Plus, you’d be doing your local fishermen a welcome favor. “”Most of the squid from the East Coast comes from the waters Long Island. Not many people think that, but we catch a whole lot of them year-round,” says Stephanie Villani of Blue Moon Fish.
Stephanie’s husband Alex operates their 36 foot fishing boat (named, of course Blue Moon) throughout the week in the waters off Eastern Long Island from their dock in Mattituck Inlet. They bring their fresh catch to the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket each Saturday where you’ll usually find a long line of fish lovers queued up at their stand first thing in the morning. (You can also find them at the Tribeca Greenmarket on Saturdays, and at Union Square on Wednesdays).
Stephanie adds that squid are perfect for the lazy home chef: “You can either cook them really fast, in a minute or two, or really slowly, like over half an hour so that they’ll be tender in the end. Just avoid that middle range – cook them for ten minutes and they’ll be rubbery and stiff.”
There’s a health benefit too (take note pregnant moms and tuna addicts!) – Stephanie says, “There’s no mercury in squid.”
How does Stephanie suggest preparing it? “In the summer I like to make a squid salad, with chopped vegetables and olive oil.” For her salad, she boils the squid then transfers it to the chopped vegetables to chill and marinate in all the tasty juices.
I asked several friends who happen to know their way around the kitchen how they like to use squid. “Just throw them on the grill,” was the most popular response. And for good reason: the squid’s sweet flavor shines with minimal fussing.
“It’s like shrimp, only with more interesting texture,” said my friend Matt, whose summer occupation seems to be throwing barbeques. He was referring to the tentacles (God forbid you mispronounce them seemingly every time they’re served like I always seem to!) The tentacles have a tendency to crisp up nicely and take on a beautiful rich flavor when grilled – just like the gently burnt tips on grilled asparagus.
But I was most smitten by Roberta’s Pizza chef Gabe McMackin’s suggestion: “Just clean it, cut it into half inch rings, and throw it into a hot frying pan with olive oil on high heat. Add some slivered punchy green olives, chili flakes, orange zest and loads of pepper. Cook it until it’s just opaque, but no more. Serve with loads of parsley, celery leaves, and orange supremes.”
Now THAT, I have to try.
(For those who don’t speak ‘chef,’ orange supremes are separated orange sections that have had the pith – the white stuff – and membranes removed. Here’s a look at how to make them at home.)
Here are a few more tasty squid recipes for you: