Last week I got stuck in a black and white rut. Somehow caught at work in a sea of printing, paper, and toner. All colour discarded for an aesthetic moment. Black and white can be beautiful in its starkness and rich inky saturation. All this reminded me of a dish of cuttlefish cooked in ink. This dish is Italian in origin, Venetian I think. Cuttlefish ink has a deep briny taste, not at all fishy. This dish is simple and flexible, stark plain and rich. It is one of those dishes that is more of a method than a recipe, easily adaptable and scalable as required. All you need is a bit of time.
Paying homage to the Italian origins of this dish I’ll describe recipe in a rather “quanto basta” manner, meaning with no quantities or “as much as you need / to your own taste”. Begin by slicing some cuttlefish into strips or chunks. In a heavy pot add a good glug of olive oil, some sliced garlic, and a crushed dried chili pepper. Saute over medium low heat until fragrant. Add the cuttlefish pieces and saute briefly, then a slosh of white wine. Next add some chopped, seeded, ripe tomatoes (to seed a tomato: cut it in half crosswise and scoop out the seeds by digging in each cavity with your fingers). Cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes. After which add a bit of cuttlefish ink (from a package / bottle / fresh) and a bit of salt to taste. Place on the lid again and simmer until tender (30 mins – 1 hour longer). Serve over white polenta! Fabulous as a dinner party dish.