Grilled squid and white beans

Grilled squid and white beans

Green Pickled Peaches
Chris Chen

The difference in this more formal presentation of the dish lies in the greater complexity in the composition of the accompaniments, and greater attention to creating a balance in the dish. The choice of grilled squid emphasises the importance I place on capturing spontaneity in taste and heightening flavour through the cooking method chosen.

For the cucumber juice


Quantity Ingredient
1 lebanese cucumber or cucumber with the greenes t flesh
2 gelatine leaves, softened in cold water
125ml milk
2 sichuan peppercorns, lightly crushed
80ml extra virgin olive oil

For the white beans

Quantity Ingredient
200g shelled borlotti beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon cognac
1 bay leaf
2 long sprigs thyme
juice from 2 fresh tomatoes
250ml extra virgin olive oil

For the squid

Quantity Ingredient
4 whole squid, about 100 g each
1 tablepoon cognac
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon finely sliced spring onion


  1. Prepare the cucumber juice:
  2. Peel the cucumber and cut into chunks about 2 cm thick. Put in a bowl and sprinkle with a little salt. Leave for 30 minutes to draw out some of the liquid, then drain. Purée the cucumber and strain through a fine sieve. Drain the gelatine leaves and squeeze out excess moisture. Put in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of warm water and stir to dissolve the gelatine leaves. Stir this into the strained cucumber juice. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before the next step. Warm the milk to blood temperature (test with your finger) and add the peppercorns to infuse for 30 minutes, then strain. Use a blender to emulsify the cucumber jelly with the milk and extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt to taste. Keep refrigerated.
  3. Prepare the white beans:
  4. Place the borlotti beans in a small saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Take off the heat and refresh under cold running water. Remove the skins of the beans. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the leek and garlic until softened. Stir in the borlotti beans and let the heat build up again. Add the cognac and let it cook out slightly. Add the bay leaf, thyme and tomato juice and 3–4 tablespoons of water and cook, covered with the lid slightly askew, for about 20 minutes until the beans are softened. Discard the bay leaf and thyme. Using a hand-held blender, purée the bean mixture. Add salt and white pepper to taste. Once the mixture is smooth, slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil with the motor running. Stop adding oil when the mixture is very smooth, white and thick. Season again and strain through a fine sieve. Keep warm.
  5. Grill the squid:
  6. Clean the squid by cutting off the head and removing the wings (but keep the skin on). Pull out the innards and rinse then dry the inside of the tubes. Cut the tentacles from the head and slice into individual tentacles. Marinate the tentacles in the cognac for 1 hour or so.
  7. I’d suggest using a plancha (metal griddle plate) or a stainless steel frying pan for grilling the squid. Heat the pan on the highest flame until it’s smoking hot. Scatter the salt on the pan, then add the squid and cook for about 10 seconds. Use a fish slice to keep the underneath of the squid that against the pan so that it’s golden and crusted. Turn the squid and repeat the process. Take out of the pan and season with white pepper.
  8. Heat the peanut oil in a pan and fry the garlic and spring onion over medium–high heat until fragrant. Turn to high heat and add the tentacles. Fry for no more than 30 seconds until they turn pinkish. Season well with salt.
  9. Assemble the dish:
  10. Place a spoonful of warm white bean purée on each plate. Add a few drops of the cucumber juice. Distribute the tentacles evenly among the plates. Serve each squid tube whole and arrange by the bean purée.
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