Inspired by my cousin’s guest post last month, I’m creating new categories for the blog. Plat du Jour will feature the easy ‘dish of the day’ that I often rely on to put together for my family. I am making a conscious effort to write down my favorite savory recipes in the hope that one day, I’ll be able to properly put them together in a book to leave as a legacy to the cooks in my family who will come after me. Gallic Ambitions, to be introduced next week, will chronicle my attempts to overcome my fear of tackling French cuisine and pastries which I hope will help me gain enough confidence to finally take on the macaron!
For my initial entry, allow me to introduce to you what I consider my ‘holy trinity.’ They’re not by any means the base of most dishes, sauces or soups like mirepoix, refogado or soffritto. They’re more like my go-to flavors when I have absolutely no idea what to prepare for dinner. They seem to work with my staple proteins, even with the occasional starch like couscous and black rice.
So what are they exactly? Well, to put it simply, they are flavors that excite the taste buds. Lemon (juice or zest) brightens dishes, parsley (flat-leaf) adds freshness and chilli (powder or fresh) provides mouth-tingling enjoyment.
Whatever protein I find in the freezer, I add these three flavors along with my standard salt, pepper and garlic to taste. Then onto the griddle, oven or grill. Today, it’s squid. And over some hot coals because I like the smokey aroma it lends to the dish.
Try them with pasta vongole, flash-fried prawns or scallops, baked chicken breasts, grilled flank steak and even cannellini bean salad. You might discover that sometimes the quickest of dishes can become outstanding meals with the addition of a few quintessential Mediterranean flavors. The kind that almost whispers to you, ‘Eat us and praise the Lord.’
And what am I supposed to say but, ‘Amen!’
Grilled Squid Santa Trinidad
|1/2 kg||small squid, cleaned and cut into 2-inch rings|
|3 cloves||garlic, finely minced|
|3 tbsp||olive oil|
|juice and zest of 1 large lemon|
|1/2 tsp||chilli powder|
|2 heaping tbsp||fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped|
|salt and pepper to taste|
In a bowl, mix together squid rings (include tentacles if you like), garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, chilli powder and half of the parsley.
Thread bamboo sticks through squid, 3-4 per stick. Season skewered squid with salt and pepper and grill for a minute on each side. Serve immediately sprinkled with lemon zest and remaining parsley.