Slow-cooked calamari escabeche salad

Slow-cooked calamari escabeche salad

Chris Middleton

Slow-cooked calamari will raise an eyebrow as chefs and home cooks are always taught to cook calamari, squid and cuttlefish briskly with gusto or it becomes rubbery. This still remains best practice, but a thinking person’s chef will advise it’s the temperature that supports a pleasing texture, not just the time. Here the calamari is cooked in flavoured olive oil at 70°C for 3 minutes only, which is considered slow-cooked for calamari! Like all good salads it’s the dressing that underpins this dish and the bright flavoursome tomatillo verde does the trick.


Quantity Ingredient
Tomatillo verde

Slow-cooked calamari

Quantity Ingredient
500ml extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, split
3-4 tarragon sprigs
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted and smashed
good pinch sea salt
500g best-quality fresh, cleaned calamari tubes and tentacles, cut into quarters


Quantity Ingredient
250ml fruity white wine
125ml freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 orange, finely grated zest
2 garlic cloves, shaved or very thinly sliced
2 anchovy fillets
pinch saffron threads
100ml extra-virgin olive oil
squeeze lime
sea salt, to taste


Quantity Ingredient
2 bulbs spring onions, thinly sliced
1 large handful flat-leaf parsley
90g pitted black olives
2 bulbs fennel, thinly shaved using a mandoline
200g mixed variety of heirloom tomatoes
200g cooked heirloom beetroot


  1. To prepare the calamari, heat the oil, garlic, tarragon, cumin seeds and salt together in a medium saucepan set over low heat until it reaches 70°C. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature.
  2. Once it reaches the correct temperature, add the calamari to the oil and gently ‘slow cook’ for 3 minutes. The calamari will change colour from transparent to white. Remove using a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain. Cover and set aside to cool. Measure out 100 ml of the cooking oil into a heatproof pitcher and set aside for the dressing.
  3. To prepare the dressing, combine the wine, orange juice and zest, garlic, anchovy and saffron in a small saucepan and boil until reduced by half. Add the reserved cooking oil and process with a hand-held blender to combine. Season with lime juice and salt and set aside to cool.
  4. To prepare the salad, combine the onion, parsley and olives in a medium bowl. Add some dressing and toss to combine. Separately combine the calamari with the fennel and toss in the remaining dressing.
  5. Slice the tomatoes and beetroot into rounds and arrange on serving plates in a circular fashion allowing room for the salad in the centre. Pile the vegetable salad neatly in the centre, top with the combined fennel and calamari and surround with the tomatillo verde.

Paul’s tips

  • If you are time-poor, this salad still tastes great without the tomatillo verde.

    This salad can also be enjoyed in a tortilla with some guacamole.
Paul Wilson
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