If you find sea creatures like octopus or squid a bit yike-ish to look at then you may not want to scroll down on this post. Thing is, you're going to see a whole fresh cuttlefish. Which may look a bit weird if you haven't seen one before, or if you don't like weird-looking sea creatures.
And to make things worse, I managed to take a picture of it that looks like it's actually staring at you (well done Fotini!). Unfortunately, I was already editing it when I noticed that.
Anyways, the good news is I'm going to show you how to clean and prepare a whole cuttlefish, by removing its ink sack the cuttlefish bone and all. If you don't want to go through this process or can't find a whole or fresh cuttlefish, you can always use cleaned and frozen along with some ink that's sold separately.
What's This Cuttlefish Stew Made Off
But first things first, let me tell you a bit about this recipe. It's a one-pot cuttlefish stew with pasta. It's made with only 6 ingredients. Cuttlefish, small macaroni pasta, cuttlefish ink, tomato paste, onion and olive oil. No spices? Nope! We don't add any to seafood dishes like this in Greece.
And I know it's probably something you never tried before. Even in Greece, this dish is so traditional that in order to come upon it you'll have to travel to a small Greek island and visit a local home to taste it.
But it's so good, that if you like seafood and especially dishes like octopus and squid, you're going to love this! And what really makes it unique is the flavor that the ink gives to this dish. Just serve it with a big piece of feta cheese, a slice of rustic bread and a glass of red wine and enjoy true, old-fashioned comfort food.
As for cleaning and preparing a whole cuttlefish, that's all you need to know before you start:
- You have to carefully cut the skin using a pair of scissors so you won't destroy the ink sack that's located right at the bottom of the cuttlefish.
- Make sure to cut and remove the eyes and teeth that are located next to the feet as shown in the picture below.
- The cuttlefish bone can be used as a calcium-rich dietary source for cage birds (if you own any) otherwise discard. My grandma always saved one for her little parrot and they do love to pick their noses on it!
- You don't have to remove the cuttlefish skin but if you don't like its texture, then simply pull it and it will come out just like when cleaning a squid.
In the end, it should look like this
Now you can rinse everything well (except the ink sack) and cut the cuttlefish into bite-sized pieces. Clean and prepare the remaining cuttlefish in the same way.
Note: If using the fresh ink sacks, make sure you have enough to fill a tablespoon. Then when you are about to add them in the stew carefully slice them open to release the ink. Do this right above the pot so things won't get messy in your kitchen.
Other Seafood You Can Add To This Stew
You can also make this stew using octopus instead. Or a mix of cuttlefish, octopus, and squid. Don't try to make it substituting with just squid though. As its flavor isn't as strong as that of cuttlefish and octopus and will make the dish tasting a bit bland.
Greek Cuttlefish Stew With Macaroni
- 1500 grams / 3lb + 5 oz fresh cuttlefish (or 1000 grams / 2lb + 3 oz frozen and cleaned)
- 1 tablespoon ink
- ⅔ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 small onion
- 300 grams / 10.6 oz small macaroni pasta
- If using fresh cuttlefish clean and prepare as shown in the text above.
- Cut cuttlefish into bite-sized pieces.
- Add the cuttlefish along with the olive oil, tomato paste, ink, onion, and 5 cups of water in a cooking pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Season with salt and pepper.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer partly covered for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Or until the cuttlefish is cooked and tender. Take a piece of cuttlefish and try to slice it with the side of a fork. If it cuts easily then it's cooked if it still looks a bit hard and rubbery then simmer a bit longer.
- Add 6 more cups of water and bring the heat up, to bring to a boil. Then add the macaroni. Reduce heat to medium-low again and cook for 20-30 minutes more until the macaroni is cooked. Make sure you keep an eye on and stir occasionally from the time you add the macaroni in the pot. It tends to absorb a lot of water and will stick to the bottom very easily. If it looks like it needs a bit more water then don't be afraid to add some it will absorb it easily.
- Once the macaroni is cooked, remove from heat and serve. In Greece, we serve this with some feta cheese but you can go ahead and serve it with any type of hard cheese you like. Like Gruyere, Parmesan, or Romano cheese.
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