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Recipe: Sautéed squid with tomato chilli relish, freekeh and fennel salad, by Alex Mackay

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Recipe: Sautéed squid with tomato chilli relish, freekeh and fennel salad, by Alex Mackay

Squid is an ingredient of extremes: it either needs to be fried in a flash or cooked slowly for a long time. The quick version suits the Magic Fridge best. The tomato  relish gets transformed into a glaze for the squid and a spicy vinaigrette for the crisp salad. Cooked freekeh is available in pouches; it can be replaced with cooked spelt or quinoa in this salad.

Serves 2
½ medium-sized fennel bulb
125g (½ pouch) ready-to-eat
freekeh, wheatberries or spelt
2tbs lime juice, plus a little for seasoning the squid
2tbs extra virgin olive oil
2-3 heads baby pak choi
(about 100g), leaves separated
4tbs tomato chilli relish (see below)
1 medium squid (approximately 250g) cleaned
1tbs vegetable oil
80g baby plum tomatoes, halved
80g chorizo, cut into 5mm slices
Salt, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika

Start with the salad. Put the half fennel bulb flat-side down on your chopping  board. Slice it finely. Put the sliced fennel into a large shallow bowl. Add the  freekeh, 2tbs lime juice and 2tbs extra virgin olive oil. Stir together well.

Put the pak choi, and 1tbs tomato chilli relish on top, but don’t mix them for now, so that the pak choi stays crisp. Use a sharp knife to open the squid tube, so that it turns into a rough square. Score it in a crisscross pattern on the inner side. Cut the squid tube into 3cm triangles and the tentacles into 5cm lengths.

Heat a large (30cm) frying pan with 1tbs vegetable oil until it begins to smoke. Add the squid in a single layer then leave for 30 seconds over your highest   possible heat. Toss the squid then return to the heat for 30 seconds.

Add 3tbs tomato chilli relish. Toss for 10 seconds, just long enough to glaze the squid. Take the pan off the heat. Season with salt, cayenne pepper and lime juice.

Add the squid to the salad ingredients. Add the tomatoes and chorizo to the pan.

Toss over a high heat for one minute to warm them through. Mix everything    together in the shallow bowl. Season to taste with salt and smoked paprika.  Serve.

Tomato chilli relish
Makes about 300g. Storage: unopened in the fridge for one month, opened in the fridge for 2-3 days; freezer for six months

1kg tomatoes
4tbs soft brown sugar
5tbs white or red wine vinegar
2tbs Thai fish sauce (or soy sauce for vegetarians)
2tbs peeled and grated fresh
root ginger
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
5tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to cover the mixture in your jars
Salt, caster sugar and chilli powder, cayenne pepper or smoked paprika

Use a little serrated knife with a sharp tip to cut out the green stem bit on top of  the tomatoes. Put half of the tomatoes into your food processor with the rest of the ingredients, except for the seasoning. Blend them to a smooth purée.

Pour the purée into a large (24cm) shallow pan; the higher the sides of your pan  are, the longer the mixture will take to reduce. Purée the second half of the tomatoes. I do this in two batches because it is very liquid and can make a real  mess. Add the purée to the pan.

Put the pan on a high heat. Bring the relish to the boil; it should bubble all over. Turn the heat down to medium. Simmer the relish for about 30 minutes, stirring at least once every five minutes or it will catch on the bottom of the pan. It can take longer and depends on how much water is in the tomatoes. The tomato chilli relish is ready when a wooden spoon pulled through the middle of the pan leaves a line that caves in seconds after you make it.

Season and spice to taste with salt, sugar and chilli. Remember that the relish will get stronger and hotter as it ages.

How to store
Store in clean, preferably sterilised, jars or bottles of the size that you are most likely to use up in one go. Fill the jars up to 2cm from the top. Pour over a layer of  extra virgin olive oil to seal the top: this stops the air getting to the relish and is vital. Cover the jars or bottles tightly with clingfilm first, then with a lid. Store in the fridge. You can also put some of the relish into very clean plastic containers, seal them with an airtight lid and freeze.

Once the relish is open, it can keep for two to  three days, or even longer, but be very careful to make sure the sides of the jar are clean and that you keep a piece of clingfilm directly touching the surface. The most important thing is to keep the air away from the food.

Recipe taken from The Magic Fridge, reviewed opposite. Photography by Peter Knab

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