"Romesco sauce is typically served on the side of barbecued or pan-fried squid, octopus or cuttlefish, but in this recipe, which uses baby squid (chipirones), the ingredients are all cooked together to create a warming, homely little stew which is thickened at the end with a picada (seasoning) in this case a paste of crushed fried bread, nuts and sautéd garlic. Traditionally, the stew would be made in a barro, or clay pot.
If chipirones aren’t available, you can use small squid (calamares), up to about 6cm. It’s best to get the fishmonger to remove the black ink sac for you, while keeping the little tentacles intact and in place."
- Soak the peppers in warm water for 30 minutes, then scrape out the flesh and set aside, keeping the skins too.
- Either grate the tomatoes, or, if you prefer, de-skin and de-seed them.
- Heat a little oil in a deep pan or casserole, put in the whole pepper skins and garlic cloves and cook gently until coloured, then lift out, discard the pepper skins and keep the garlic to one side for the picada. Keep the pan ready to cook the squid.
- Place the dish or tin in a deep roasting pan. Pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the pan and put into the preheated oven for 1¼ hours until, if you shake it gently, it has a more solid jellylike texture. Switch the oven off and leave in the oven for another 45 minutes.
- If you are using calamares, open them out and score them with a sharp knife diagonally in one direction and then the other to form a diamond pattern, making sure you don’t cut all the way through (chipirones don’t need scoring). Put the pan back on the heat, and when hot add the chipirones or calamares and fry quickly until coloured on all sides. Remove from the pan and keep to one side.
- Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan and cook for 10 minutes until softened, then add the reserved pepper flesh, the chipirones or calamares and the stock and leave to simmer for 10 minutes, until reduced by half.
- To make the picada, break up the slice of fried bread and either pound with the nuts and reserved garlic, using a pestle and mortar, or pulse in a blender, then add the olive oil a little at a time until you have a rough paste. Add the picada to the stew to further thicken the sauce, and then at the final moment stir in the vinegar.