Cuttlefish braised with red wine, tomato and garlic

Cuttlefish braised with red wine, tomato and garlic

A la Grecque
Mark Roper

Like kalamari and squid, cuttlefish is a cephalopod – a mollusc without a shell. It has a similar shaped body and eight tentacles covered with suckers emerging from the head. Like most cephalopods, cuttlefish have an ink sac, and squirt a cloud of black ink to help them escape from predators. But whereas kalamari and squid have an internal transparent cartilage, cuttlefish have an internal flat calciferous bone.

Cuttlefish flesh is a bit thicker and meatier than kalamari and squid, but it has a very similar flavour. Because it is fairly tough, it is particularly well suited to long, slow braising to tenderise the flesh.

To clean cuttlefish, pull the head and tentacles away from the body and set them aside. Slide your fingertips under the blackish membrane that covers the body and peel it away. Cut open the body and detach and discard the ink sac and guts. Remove the cuttlebone and discard it. Rinse the body inside and out then pat it dry. Cut into squares about 6 cm. Remove the beak and discard it with the head. Cut the tentacles into thirds.


Quantity Ingredient
1kg cuttlefish
190ml extra virgin olive oil
3 red onions, sliced
or 10 red spring onions, sliced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup parsley, chopped
250ml red wine
2 ripe tomatoes, halved and coarsely grated, skins discarded
2 teaspoons tomato paste, dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper


  1. Clean the cuttlefish as described above.
  2. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan. Fry the cuttlefish in batches then transfer to a bowl and set aside. Keep the heat high and be careful not to overcrowd the pan or the cuttlefish will boil, rather than fry.
  3. When all the cuttlefish is cooked, add the onions to the pan and sauté in the same oil, adding a little more if need be. Sauté until soft and golden, stirring to prevent them from sticking to the base of the pan. Add the garlic and parsley and stir everything together well. Add the wine then return the cuttlefish to the pan. Add the tomato pulp and paste and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and cover the pan with a lid. Simmer for 2 hours. The onions and garlic will melt into the tomatoes to create a thick, rich sauce. Serve in shallow bowls with crusty bread.
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