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Cuttlefish Koftas with Fried Capers and Red Pepper

Tim Phedon from United Kingdom

Serves
6
Preparation
45 minutes
Cooks in
15 minutes
Country of origin
Spain

It’s a Monday afternoon in April and I’m upset because lunch is over. I am currently on a Workaway placement at a cooking school in Vejer de la Frontera. I undertook a week’s cooking course at this same school (Annie B’s Spanish Kitchen) last July because all I wanted to do was to cook and explore a part of Spain I had never heard of. It was an eye opening experience and I continued to stay in touch with the school’s founder. In March 2016 I was offered the opportunity to assist her at the cookery school.

Whilst I was preparing a foodie Instagram post (a daily ritual at the school) a post from food journalist Fiona Beckett instantly caught my eye. It was of a spectacular looking dish from Moro Restaurant in London. I visited their page and recognised that it must have been their Cuttlefish Koftas with Fried Capers, sitting proudly on a chargrilled red pepper. It was stunning and I had to recreate it.

The following morning, after having eagerly searched for a recipe to understand which other ingredients were used, I realised my best option was to ring the restaurant itself. So I did. I called up, explained to Front of House that I was a crazy foodie living in Andalucía and desperate to reproduce what I had seen on my Instagram. Within a few minutes I found myself speaking directly with co-founder Sam Clark who was the nicest gentlemen and enthusiastic to share the ingredients with me. This in itself was mind-blowing, since I adore eating at Moro when I’m in London and find the story behind the restaurant’s opening really inspiring. During our conversation both Sam and I shared a common passion for Mediterranean food.

At this point I was buzzing (the only way I can describe it). I headed straight for the Barbate fish market (the meca of fresh fish on the Costa de la Luz) to buy my cuttlefish and got straight to work. I have created this recipe with the ingredients at hand, letting the ingredients speak for themselves in this Moorish/Andaluz inspired dish.

Ingredients

  • For the Koftas:
  • Cuttlefish (1kg)
  • 1 small Onion / Half a large onion
  • Olive Oil
  • 200g Tomatoes (Deseeded)
  • Handful of Parsley chopped
  • 50g Bulgar Wheat
  • Teaspoon of Lemon Zest
  • Teaspoon of Salt
  • Quarter Teaspoon of Chilli Flakes (This might be a safe measure depending on taste)
  • For the Garnish:
  • 2 Tablespoons Capers in brine (drained and patted dry)
  • 2 Large Red Peppers
  • Parsley

Method

  • Grab your peppers and either barbecue, char on the cooker or roast in the oven whole (I use my gas barbecue).
  • Soak the Bulgar Wheat for 30 minutes until al dente (read packet instructions)
  • Meanwhile chop your cuttlefish into large chunks
  • Blitz three quarters of the cuttlefish in a food processor until it is ALMOST puréed. Dice the remaining quarter into small chunks to give the Koftas some texture. (If you don’t have a food processor, worry not! Simply finely dice the cuttlefish). Add all the fish to a large mixing bowl.
  • Finely chop your onion and place into a frying pan on a medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil, stirring occasionally until soft and translucent. (I always add my onion to COLD oil)
  • TURN YOUR PEPPERS!
  • Meanwhile wash, core & deseed your tomatoes and finely dice the flesh. Add to the cuttlefish.
  • Finely chop the parsley, reserving some for garnish, and add to the mixture.
  • Add the Bulgar wheat, fried onions, lemon zest, salt and chilli flakes to the same bowl and mix it all together (with your hands course!)
  • Once mixed well, form fish cake sized Koftas (a few centimetres thick) from the mixture and set aside. (I recommend half the size of your palm, but make your Koftas however large you like!). At this point the Koftas can be cooked straight away or left to rest in the fridge for later on
  • CHECK THOSE PEPPERS! Whatever the cooking method, you’re looking for the peppers to be nice and soft to be used as a throne for your Koftas while adding a natural sweetness to the dish. Once cooked, remove the peppers, set aside and cover with cling film for 5 minutes. Then remove the skin, deseed and slice your peppers and finally place in a colander to let the juices run free.
  • With the same pan used to fry the onions, heat the rest of the olive oil on a high heat. Once hot, add your Koftas (either all at once or in batches depending on the size of the pan)*. SEE NOTE
  • Press each Kofta down to cook faster and turn over once starting to brown. (Each Kofta should only require a minute on each side). #apron
  • While frying the Koftas, place another smaller pan on a high heat covering the base with half a centimetre of olive oil. Once the oil is sizzling add your capers. Fry them until they become nice and crispy.
  • Time to plate up. First whack the peppers onto a serving platter, place your Cuttlefish Koftas on top followed by the fried capers and sprinkle with the remaining chopped parsley.
  • *NOTE: There are only 2 ways to cook Cuttlefish to avoid toughness: fast or slow. Here we’re cooking fast.

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