This week started on an absolute high. Appearing on live TV for the first time, whilst also cooking a completely new meat for this challenge; my 52 meats in 52 weeks, and making sure to not only avoid muddling my words or ramble aimlessly, but to speak clearly, confidently and get my story and message across in the short time slot available, was quite frankly- terrifying.
From this high I returned to Sydney and to my normal, not so TV appearance heavy (yes, I’m calling one appearance heavy…) life, back into its daily swing. Of course this meant talking about the interview many many times and sharing the story which inevitably became more and more embellished each time. Artistic license I believe it’s called…
This seemed to pass the days quickly enough- “Yeah I was on TV. Ah, it was pretty cool, you know, no big deal…”. Then soon enough it’s Thursday, I’m all of a sudden fending off TV contracts before I realise, it’s a new week- I need a new meat! Not only this but I’m heading overseas next Wednesday for 3 weeks and have to bang out that week’s meat before I go.
A slight panic set in, and my now inflated life as a TV star came to an abrupt halt as the realisation grew. Meat Mike Campbell, you’d better get your head out of your ar$e and do what you do- source another meat, cook it and eat it! Then get preparations under way for another one early next week.
Where does one go for last minute meat options?
My first port of call was the ever evolving list. Since my TV spot I’ve had a whole heap of suggestions, many of which are completely new, but I fear too hard to source. Plus some people think it’s a step too far to eat a turtle. Your thoughts?
I find my list is quite cool to have a look at from time to time. This week nothing too outrageous or easily available popped out. I can’t really just get a whole rack of moose ribs from the supermarket now can I? Luckily for me I have some great friends, and they think about my meaty options too, so one has informed me he’s got his hands on something special for me to do before I take Meat Mike Campbell further abroad. I locked that in for next week and settled for an ‘easy’ seafood option this week.
What did I have?
I say easy, but to me most things from the water are foreign with many being very intimidating. I’m still very much the ‘7 year old Michael Campbell heading to a new school, desperately not wanting to leave mums side’ when it comes to cooking things from the water.
Simple fish is ok, but that’s far too boring for this adventure and cooking a crab has me in a world of confusion and anxiety! I will get there, but not this week.
It was down to the fishmonger for some fresh squid, or calamari. I entertained the idea of searching for the evasive Giant Squid, however, this was for a nano second. This mysterious guy sounds very tricky to come by, let alone angry, check out these ‘pictures’:
I consulted with the much more seafood experienced NN and the result was some nicely cleaned calamari for me to ease my way back into the shallow end of the seafood cooking waters. A weak effort perhaps, but I have flat out never cooked squid before, never ever, so it was still a complete mystery to me.
How did I do it?
The general feeling I got form my esteemed colleague, Mr. Jamie Oliver et al, was that it’s a tight rope with calamari and if the correct care is misplaced, it can easily turn into something resembling a device for erasing, or perhaps a waterproof overshoe..
I decided to use a stuffed calamari recipe. This needed some tweaking from me with skinless Sicilian sausages replacing chorizo and cous cous replacing breadcrumbs. I got the required ingredients, as well as some greens to accompany and headed home with a blasé- this’ll be no sweat- attitude front of mind.
It wasn’t ‘no sweat’.
Once I’d made the super tasty filling, I soon discovered the stuffing of that filling into the little squid tubes was a delicate and time consuming process. I tried my best, and did ok, but it soon had NN (impatiently) waiting on the couch as I got my hands dirty and painstakingly stuffed the tubes one by one. There were six, so it didn’t take all night, but it was after 8pm before they hit the pan!
Did they turn into something valued for its shock absorption and elastic properties?
In a word- no! They did not start to resemble the sole of an old boat shoe.
These cylindrical pockets of meat and stuffing were perfect. Once I’d carefully tended to them in the pan, I sliced and put onto some finely chopped tomato, and dressed with flat leaf parsley, salt & pepper and fresh lemon juice. We sat down to taste it. The calamari was cooked perfectly and the taste, combined with the stuffing was simply wonderful. I loved it straight away and so did NN.
The same can’t be said for the greens unfortunately. Someone else **cough** was in charge of them subsequently left them a touch (an age) too long. We got by and the meal was a success judging purely on the beautiful stuffed calamari. (I may pay for the above comments!)
I was pretty pleased with the end result. Yeah cooking squid meat isn’t exactly earth shatteringly outrageous or adventurous in anyway, except for extreme landlocked populations. However, for my familiarity with it, I may as well live in North West Mongolia (that’s quite far from the sea, you see).
Would I eat or cook it again?
Yes I would eat it again! In fact there was a couple of tubes worth left over that I devoured for lunch the following day. This is something I do most days- have cold leftovers from dinner the night before, and the risk with the remaining squid was a tough eat, more like the waterproof overshoe we’ve discussed already. It wasn’t at all, it remained delicious and had me forgetting the exasperating stuffing process and vowing to cook this dish again. The greens I left for, ah, someone else.
Other than a scrumptious meal, why else should I eat squid?
Just as most animals from the ocean, squid is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids. Now before you scream ‘FAT!!!’ let’s remember that some fats are awesome for us and omega 3’s very much fall into this category. As one of my more common mantras goes- make sure it’s quality! Squid is also a great source of protein, however, unlike a lot of other fish which have a reasonably high protein content, squid only contains about 15-16g/100g. It also is a great source of other vital nutrients including many B vitamins, zinc, phosphorous and selenium.
Try some quality stuffed squid today!
And that is week…. 29!
It’s almost frightening how fast this 52 meats is flying by! So the same week I catapulted myself well out of my comfort zone onto live TV, I also ventured ever so genteelly out past my seafood comfort zone to cook some squid meat, or calamari as it’s often known. I admit this isn’t amazingly adventurous and I will endeavour to reach further out next time when it comes to meat from the water, but sourcing some of the more out there ones is a tricky one- so any suggestions or help is more than welcome!
Be sure to tune in next week for a very different twist on a very common meal. One I’m already planning and salivating over as I sit here writing.
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Until next meat,