I’m in heaven!
This Portuguese squid tops my list of favourite appetizers, ever! This squid is boiled until tender and then cooked slowly in a wonderful garlic, beer, and wine sauce.
Today’s post takes me back to my teen years, when I lived in Pico, Azores.
Every village, town and Island in the Azores has a dish they’re known for, which is usually the highlight plate at every one of the many festivals and social dances held throughout the year.
The highlight dishes in our town were “bifanas” (pork sandwiches), caldo de peixe (fish stew) and lula das Ribeiras (today’s squid dish). In fact, these were staples at the many festivals and dances in Ribeiras. I’m pretty sure I ate this lula dish at every Saturday night dance I ever attended.
The good ol’ days
I can remember as far back as 1982… my mom slipping me a few “escudos” (the Portuguese currency back then), so that I could go have a treat at the hall bar with my dance partner.
The treat often included a bifana, or a plate of fava beans, or squid skewered on a toothpick, along with a Kima de maracuja to wash it all down with. On that note, let me say that Kima de maracuja is best the ever passion fruit pop in the history of pop… yup, nothing you say will ever change my mind!
I have such great memories of the dances back then; both as a participant, and also as part of the band entertaining a hall of dancers. At the age of 16, some friends and I started a band called Vega 5. I’m sure you’ve heard us… no? 😂😜 We weren’t very good, but we were good enough to get people onto the dance floor for a few hours of fun on a Saturday night in a small town. I had a blast and I’ll forever remember those amazing times.
I’ve waited so long to make this in Canada!
I’ve wanted to make this exact squid dish, for a very long time. Unfortunately, where we live it’s quite hard to find squid large enough. Also, if you happen to find large squid, be prepared to pay a lot for it.
This week I visited Seafood Depot, a large Italian store in the city of Vaughan. They sell lots of Italian treats, kitchenware and a lot more, but their specialty is definitely fish and seafood. Basically, a toy store for foodies.
While scanning the freezer area for shrimp, I saw something that made me do a double-take. I noticed these packages with squid steaks. Cleaned, equally sized, and about 1/2 inch thick pieces of squid! Not only were they the right size, they were very well priced. Jackpot!
Finally… Lula das Ribeiras… whenever I want
I was so excited to get these packages of squid. On my way home from the store, I immediately called my mom to go over some cooking details with her. She was happy to know I was finally going to make the recipe at home. This recipe was, of course, already in my “book of traditions” – the recipe book she hand-wrote for me, years back. I was seriously excited to make this right away.
I like this dish so much that when visiting Canada in the past, she’s brought a care package of lulas already prepared for me. Ahem…um…customs friends, I mean “she brought me chocolates”. 😂 Ya….that’s it. No more questions, please.
We had some friends over for dinner last night. They’re from Pico too so I made a full traditional meal for them, which obviously included this squid dish. We had a great time eating and chatting about how grateful we are to have learned how to make special dishes like these.
We learned from our relatives and older town folks who were happy to pass along their recipes and methods. Those older folks felt a connection to those who taught them, and they wanted to pass those traditions and skills on so the next generation could take over; moving ahead in life, but bringing those traditions forward with them.
I am thankful that I have a passion for cooking. Especially being so far from my parents and the town that gave me such great memories, cooking dishes like this is a way for me to share those special parts of my life with my family, and to keep those culinary traditions moving forward.
Now my own kids know my story and they have their own memory of how we enjoyed it together here in our home, in Canada. They can choose to move it forward and keep those stories alive with generations that will follow.
Food has a way of bringing people together and transporting us to some special moment in our lives…whatever the food…whatever the place. It’s in our soul. What dish or ingredient takes you back to a special moment in your life? Reminisce with food, and eat well, friends.
- 4.4 lbs or 2 kg large squid about 1/2 inch thick, cleaned and cut into 1.5 inch squares (we purchased pre-cut squid steaks)
- 5 medium garlic cloves minced
- 3 tbsp hot pimento paste we use the brand Vinga, which isn’t too spicy. Feel free to add more if you like extra heat
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 tsp kosher salt (about 1 1/2 tsp if using fine salt)
- 1 1/4 cups beer
- 1 1/4 cups white wine
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
Place the squid in a large pot and add water just until below the top edge of the squid (don’t fully cover the squid pieces).
Bring the water to a boil and then lower the temperature and simmer for about 25 minutes.
While the quid is simmering in the water, whisk together the pimento paste, cinnamon, cumin, tomato paste, salt, beer and wine.
Once the squid has simmered until tender, discard the water and leave the squid pieces in the pot.
Add the sauce mixture and oil, and stir.
Heat the mixture on medium until it starts to bubble, reduce the temperature slightly, and simmer until the sauce has almost completely reduced. Stir occasionally. Ours took about 50 minutes to cook completely.
The squid pieces will soak up the sauce and you should have very little sauce left on the bottom.
We mention about 50 minutes to cook down the sauce. The time may very depending on the size of the squid pieces, the size of the pot and the simmering temperature. The key is to make sure the sauce is almost completely cooked down.
This is obviously personal presence, but I love eating these at room temperature as well.
You can save left-overs (that doesn’t happen often) and then reheat them in a pot with a splash of white wine.