This dish is a variation of the the Squid ink pasta with tomato-fennel-saffron sauce and pan fried shrimp. Here, chef Mark Doraszelski and I substituted the shrimp for calamari, and it was a very successful experiment. Ever since I discovered a new source for squid ink, our local fish monger in Noe Valley Billingsgate, I have been on a roll with black dishes. .
serves: 8 difficulty: complex prep time: 2 hrs
For the pasta
- 3 cups pasta flour – mix 50/50 all purpose flour and semolina flour, or 50/50 Italian “00” flour and semolina flour
- more semolina flour for dusting
- 4 eggs
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 tbs squid ink. As mentioned above, Billingsgate in Noe Valley in San Francisco is a good source.
For the sauce
- 3 medium fennel bulbs, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 tbs olive oil
- 1 generous pinch of Spanish saffron
- 2 8 oz can chopped (but not seasoned) tomatoes
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 lbs calamari, tentacles included
- 1 cup canola or vegetable oil (for deep frying the calamari tentacles)
- 2 tbs semolina flour for deep frying the calamari tentacles
First make the pasta dough. Lightly beat the eggs
Most pasta recipes call for adding a splash of olive oil to the pasta dough but I think the squid ink is plenty fatty.
Add the squid ink to the eggs and mix well.
Mix the two kinds of flour, pour the flour mixture on your work surface, and form “the well” as shown on the photo below.
Pour the egg-squid ink mixture in the middle of the well.
Using a fork, start mixing in some flower from the sides of the well while being careful not to breach the sides and let the runny egg mixture spill. You need to be careful only while he dark egg- squid ink mixture in the middle is runny.
Once it thickens into a paste, you can use a spatula to mix in more flour.
Set aside about 1 cup of flour on the side (because you never know how much flour exactly will be needed to form the dough). Shape the dough, and keep adding flour.
Once you have shaped the dough, start kneading.
Fold the dough in two, turn it 90 degrees, apply pressure with the palm of your hand down and away from you… Repeat: fold in two, turn 90 degrees, apply pressure….
Keep kneading for at least 20 min or up until the dough become silky smooth. The process is illustrated in this video.
Because we are using semolina flour which is coarser, it will take more kneading to get there. In this case, I kneaded the dough for 25 min. Once it is smooth, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 30 min or better – a full hour.
Once the dough has rested, you can roll out and cut the pasta. First split the dough in 3 parts; work with 1/3 and keep the remaining 2/3 wrapped in plastic wrap.
I use a very simple Italian pasta maker with a detachable electric motor.
Flatten the dough between your hands so that it starts forming a pancake – about 1/2 inch thick. Adjust the pasta machine rollers on the widest gauge (on mine that’s 0), and turn on the pasta machine (if electric). Run the dough pancake through it 2-3 times. At that point you will have an elliptical sheet of dough. Fold the narrow ends of the ellipse so that the width of the pasta sheet is only slightly less than the width of the pasta machine. Run the sheet through the machine couple more times. The goal is for the pasta sheet to be as wide as the width of the machine. Once you have achieved that, start tightening the gauge of the rollers (on my machine the numbers go up) and run the sheet through the past machine couple of times at each gauge. You may have to dust the pasta sheet lightly with flour. I go all the way to gauge 5 for cut pasta. Dust lightly with flour, then cut the sheet in 1 ft long pieces. You should have something like this.
The whole process is illustrated here.
It’s all right if the ends of the sheet aren’t perfect 🙂
Before you cut the pasta, you want to dry the sheets for about 20 min. I made a make-shift rack for drying the pasta sheets – i.e. I used our dish drying rack propped between two chairs.
Once the sheets dry for 20 min they will feel like leather.
Next cut the pasta. Attach the cutting attachment to the machine. You have options how wide to cut the pasta. In the final dish pictures you will see two different variations: tagliatelle and linguine. The cutting process is illustrated in this video.
You can also cut it by hand by rolling each sheet into a roll, and slicing the roll as wide as you want the pasta to be.
Dust the ready pasta lightly with flower, and put on a lightly dusted sheet tray. Repeat with the remaining 2/3 of dough.
Here is the finished product:
When the pasta is ready, cover the sheet tray with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to two days. Or you can freeze it for months.
To prepare the sauce, dice the fennel bulb and mince the garlic.
Heat a sauté pan, and add the olive oil. Once it shimmers, add the minced garlic and chopped fennel and sauté until lightly caramelized.
Open the can of tomatoes, and use a hand blender to puree the tomatoes. Add them to the fennel. Add the saffron. Continue sautéing for about 5 min. Add the chicken stock and simmer until the sauce thickens.
Cut the calamari tubes in 1/8 inch rings.
Set aside the tentacles.
Add the calamari tube rings to the sauce and cook for only a minute. Remove the sauce form the heat.
Heat canola or vegetable oil in a small sauce pan. Dredge the calamari tentacles in semolina flour, and dip them in the hot oil.
When you are ready to serve, fill a large stock pot with water, add plenty of salt (it should taste like sea water), and bring it to an aggressive boil. Cook the pasta for 2-3 min – taste it for doneness.
Once the pasta is done, take it out of the water and place it in the pan with the sauce. Mix well.
Plate the pasta, and top with the fried calamari tentacles and a few fronds of fennel.
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