Heston’s recipe for squid and cheese sounds like another one of his weird combinations that shouldn’t work. But this umami-rich pairing is deliciously savoury.
I have loads of fun combing through Heston’s old Guardian articles. This kind of treasure-hunting for “lost” recipes is probably the closest I’ll ever come to being Nathan Drake without a joypad. Or a catastrophic mental breakdown.
One of the more fascinating articles is this one from July 2002, discussing the science of umami and the food pairings richest in it. It’s an enjoyable and detailed read, giving you some great info about the “fifth taste”.
I’m not always comfortable discussing umami – even 11 years after articles like the one above came out it can still feel like knowledge that “foodies” use to sneer at the less-aware, or less-nerdy. However, as a fan of Parmesan, shiitake mushrooms, Beef Monster Munch and other umami-laden foods I do love any recipe that uses this factor to boost savoury taste. Example: Heston’s Perfect Bolognese, which uses a combination of umami-rich seasonings like soy, fish and Worcestershire sauces, to increase the meatiness of the dish.
Heston’s Umami recipe for marinated squid with parmesan ticks all the right boxes. It combines two umami-rich ingredients, challenges the rule against pairing seafood with cheese, and is ridiculously easy to prepare as well.
Special Equipment: None
Special Ingredients: None
Time: About 10 minutes, plus marinating overnight
- 1kg cleaned squid
- 500g red peppers
- 75ml olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, peeled & thinly sliced
- ½ a lemon
- Handful each of parsley & coriander leaves, chopped
- ½ a red chili
- 1 shallot, peeled & thinly sliced
- 10g peeled & finely grated ginger
- Salt and pepper
- Quarter the peppers then grill until charred. Seal in a bowl under Clingfilm, skin when cool.
- Use boiling water to blanch the garlic for 1 minute, refreshing it with cold water immediately after.
- Thinly slice the pepper. Finely chop the herbs and chili. Juice the lemon.
- Combine the ginger, herbs, chili, garlic, lemon juice and oil.
- Char the squid using a hot griddle or pan.
- Completely cover the cooled squid in the marinade
- Refrigerate overnight. Serve with bread.
Step 1: Preparing the Marinade
We’ve got some leftover jarred peppers that need using. But if you’re roasting peppers from scratch there’s no point messing around with grills or wasting Ziploc bags. Just bash the peppers flat (or neatly quarter them, fancypants) and bung them in your toaster. One they’re done just drop them in a bowl and cover with a snugly fitting plate until cool enough to peel.
But, like I say, we’re using jarred ones.
Preparing the rest of the marinade requires little more than the ability to cut things. Try to squeeze-out the lemon after you dice the chilli, the leftover juices can help neutralise those burning compounds, protecting your eyes and other sensitive bits.
For the garlic we just used a crusher rather than slicing. Blanching was achieved using a ramekin, kettle water and a tea strainer. With Booths Media City and Leigh Tesco out of stock we gave up on tracking down shallots, making do with some finely sliced onion and a tiny pinch of sugar.
All the ingredients were mixed into a bowl on some scales to get the weights correct.
Step 2: Cooking the Squid
Searing the squid is the only “tricky” part of this recipe. But if you’re confident enough to get it out of the pan before it overcooks even this step is simple. You just need a sharp knife and a hot griddle or pan.
Heston’s recipe contains only the vaguest instructions on how to prepare and cook the squid, so here’s some useful info from the marvellous BBC Good Food website. We decided to score our squid and cut it into small triangles.
Step 3: Marinating
Now just put everything from step 2 into step 1, making sure all your squid is covered. Once it’s cold leave it in the fridge overnight. That’s it.
To serve simply pile it onto good bread -we toasted ours on one side- and cover with (not too much) shaved parmesan.
We were kind of dubious about what cheesy cephalopod would taste like. The answer is surprisingly delicious. We’d guess this is partly down to the huge number of flavours at play in Heston’s Marinated Squid recipe.
It is very savoury. Artificial umami savouriness is usually added to food in the form of MSG, the salt of glutamic acid synonymous with Chinese restaurants and bad reputations. Parmesan cheese has one of the highest concentrations of naturally occurring MSG. So while accepted kitchen wisdom says seafood and cheese shouldn’t work, the high umami-levels of the squid and parmesan, combined with the other flavourings, make this one of Heston’s unusual food pairings that is definitely worth trying out.
We love squid, buying the frozen stuff by the kilo at the Wing Yip Cash & Carry. Since we keep nearly every other ingredient bar fresh coriander in the house (its murder to grow – and the chilies we just stock in the freezer) this is definitely one we’ll be making again soon. If you’re a fan of squid, umami or just simple-to-make food this is an excellent recipe.
As a purely personal preference we’d replace all the parsley with coriander and add more lemon juice.
Also, it’s a good idea to give the squid 10 – 20 minutes out of the fridge before serving, allowing it to come up to room temperature. That way you can strain off some of the otherwise cold, congealed oil that makes it taste slimy.
What is your favourite umami recipe, and are you a fan of –umami rich foods? Tell us below in the comments section.