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Old 02-17-2019, 11:50 AM
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Squid ink cuisine


I had my very first encounter with squid ink cuisine last night. To celebrate the littlest Mercotan's birthday (she's now 30) we dined out at the restaurant of her choice. She picked a Milwaukee tapas joint which also featured paella. She craved seafood paella.

What none of us noticed when ordering was that the paella (table sized portions, serves 4) featured not only shrimp, mussels, calamari, etc. but also squid ink. In fact, the name of the dish was "pescadita negra" or "black fish". And it looked something like this, but without the lemons.

Black, very black. Never have I seen an entree so dark.

Still, our family is nothing if not adventurous when it comes to food. So we shrugged and dove in.

However, it certainly had a flavor like no paella I'd ever tasted before. I see that squid ink is described as imparting a 'briny, salty' flavor. Perhaps that's what we got here. It gave everything a rather uniform flavor; the shrimp, the mussels, the squid rings, and whatever else that was in there but too black to properly identify. And for the life of me, I can only describe that flavor as dark. Not bad, not fishy, not overly salty, just, well, dark. It all tasted dark.

We ended up treating it like just another tapa, eating as much of it as we cared to before moving on to the Rabbit Empanadias (delicious!), the Jamon Serrano Croquetas (OMG, sooooo good!), the Lamb Carpaccio (the birthday girl loved that one), and other delights.

Afterwards we all agreed it was interesting to try a squid ink dish, but we were not anxious for repeats with that ingredient. Especially looking at each other and seeing the blackened lips, the grey teeth, the ebon streaked napkins we all wielded.

So, anyone out there enjoy squid ink dishes? If so, which ones? Can you teach me more about squid ink cuisine? I could read endless reviews of the joys of ink-blackened pasta or rice or even a whole Lasagna for the Dark Lord. I've already perused a lot of such literature. But I hope to hear from dopers about their experiences with the Black Carbs of Doom.
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Old 02-17-2019, 11:53 AM
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I've had it, also at tapas places. I can't say it necessarily did anything amazing to the flavor. But it did look cool.
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Old 02-17-2019, 12:03 PM
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I only had squid ink pasta in a Blue Apron kit - it was ok, nothing special though but that was just pasta probably dumbed down anyways.
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Old 02-17-2019, 01:11 PM
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Didn't some contestant on the original Japanese Iron Chef make squid ink ice cream, which the Japanese celebrities were nodding and shrugging about until the middle aged battle axe food critic said right out, "This is the worst thing you have ever made!"?

I miss that old battle axe. She'd be great on Chopped.
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Old 02-17-2019, 01:57 PM
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I have had it in risotto. It did give the dish a certain flavor, so it was not merely for looks. Since this was not recently I cannot give you a full review, but I thought it was pretty good. This was in northern Italy.
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Old 02-17-2019, 02:03 PM
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It seems squid ink in pasta dishes is making a comeback in terms of popularity in menus in Italian restaurants here in the North Jersey/NYC area. I remember it was very popular in the 90s. I've had dishes like squid ink lobster ravioli and linguini, and the slight fishiness and saltiness did add to the dishes. In Northern Italy I've had risotto with squid ink (risotto al nero di seppia) which was excellent and I've had squid ink (ikasumi) in ramen in Tokyo, which I recall only being "meh."
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Old 02-17-2019, 02:16 PM
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I've had squid with squid ink in pasta or risotto. I like it quite a bit, since it has such a distinctive flavor. However, I would think there would be less point to mixed seafood like paella with squid ink, since as you say the taste of the ink would tend to overwhelm the taste of individual ingredients.
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Old 02-17-2019, 03:42 PM
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I had it in some kind of pasta dish many years ago. I don't remember much about it except that I've never had any desire to repeat the experience.
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Old 02-17-2019, 03:51 PM
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I had it in a rice dish in Spain. I liked it. It does have a unique flavor, but I didn't find it off-putting.
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Old 02-17-2019, 04:40 PM
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Like others, had it at a tapas place. And, like others, thought it was inoffensive but have no eagerness to order it again.
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Old 02-17-2019, 06:23 PM
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I've seen squid ink pasta but never purchased it. Guess I won't now that everyone says it's unremarkable.

When I was in community college biology, we dissected squid and several people there were aware that squid ink was used in some cuisines. One of my classmates said he was familiar with it because one of his co-workers had once worked at Sonny Bono's restaurant, which had it as a menu item. Someone else excitedly said, "Oh, really?" and the other guy said, "Yeah, he said he was an asshole." I always think about this conversation whenever I hear about squid ink in food.

Last edited by nearwildheaven; 02-17-2019 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 02-18-2019, 02:21 AM
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The aforementioned risotto al nero di seppia is a Venetian speciality, and I like it a lot.
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Old 02-18-2019, 02:37 AM
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I'm a big advocate of squid ink, and cook with it regularly - primarily in Italian dishes (seafood spaghetti/risotto type dishes), although I've also had it in Spain and Portugal, usually in rice dishes.

I often buy black spaghetti or linguine to make seafood pasta, as well as the sachets of squid ink. In contrast with what others have said, I find it adds depth of flavour to seafood dishes, bringing out the umami. I don't find it 'fishy' - more salty and tangy.

I also make a squid salad which uses a squid ink sauce involving shallots and lemon - it packs a punch of flavour.

So, mark me down as a fan.

Last edited by SanVito; 02-18-2019 at 02:40 AM.
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Old 02-18-2019, 05:43 AM
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Concerning squid's close "cousin" cuttlefish: when that can be got fresh in the UK, it seems to be a "lottery" whether the creature comes with its ink sac, or without -- those who sell the cuttles, seem to have little control in this matter. Our writer on organic food and cuisine, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, takes the view that ink-less cuttlefish is fine; but ink-ful, better still -- "if it has ink, enjoy it to the full !"

I've made his recipe for braised cuttlefish, a few times: once, it chanced to be with an "inky" specimen. As PPs have observed, it turned the entire thing black. I was aware (deficiency in my taste-buds, maybe) of little or no difference in taste, between this, and the same dish without the ink -- tasted grand, either way.
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Old 02-18-2019, 11:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sangahyando View Post
Concerning squid's close "cousin" cuttlefish: when that can be got fresh in the UK, it seems to be a "lottery" whether the creature comes with its ink sac, or without -- those who sell the cuttles, seem to have little control in this matter. Our writer on organic food and cuisine, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, takes the view that ink-less cuttlefish is fine; but ink-ful, better still -- "if it has ink, enjoy it to the full !"

I've made his recipe for braised cuttlefish, a few times: once, it chanced to be with an "inky" specimen. As PPs have observed, it turned the entire thing black. I was aware (deficiency in my taste-buds, maybe) of little or no difference in taste, between this, and the same dish without the ink -- tasted grand, either way.
This story makes me shudder to remember the one and only time I have gutted an ink-filled cuttlefish in my kitchen. Between spraying my kitchen walls in black ink, whilst also attempting to hand roll my own orechiette to feed a dinner party of 8 people, well, let's just say, it was also the last time I attempted that particular dish. And cuttlefish in general.
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Old 02-18-2019, 07:13 PM
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So, I'm the only one juvenile enough to comment on what it does to your poop.

Had squid ink pasta with seafood at a very nice Italian place. It was very good, but visually it just wasn't appetizing to me.
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Old 02-18-2019, 09:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spud View Post
So, I'm the only one juvenile enough to comment on what it does to your poop....
This really should be a public service warning to anyone that has never tried it, because it scared the crap out of me the first time, no pun intended. Let’s just say, googling ‘black tarry stool’ doesn9t lead you to good news. But That dish, squid ink spaghetti with seppia, green chilis and scallions, is still my go-to pasta when I go to my favorite Italian seafood place, Esca. Delicious.
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Old 02-18-2019, 09:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackknifed Juggernaut View Post
no pun intended.

I don't believe that for a second... and it was very well played.

I thought the taste difference was minimal and the dish would have been much more appealing with a usual or even wheat or spinach pasta with the nice seafood and herbs on top.
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Old 02-18-2019, 11:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spud View Post
So, I'm the only one juvenile enough to comment on what it does to your poop.

Had squid ink pasta with seafood at a very nice Italian place. It was very good, but visually it just wasn't appetizing to me.
I gather it does not turn your stool green, the way other "black" foods do when eaten in excess?
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Old 02-19-2019, 05:56 AM
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I honestly don't recall noticing any effects. Maybe I didn't eat enough. Small plates and all.
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Old 02-19-2019, 06:23 AM
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The only squid ink dish that I have tried was many years ago. My friends and I ate regularly in Sydney's Spanish quarter and one dish we always shared was Chipirones en su Tinta - Squid in it's own ink.
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