October 2007

Technique: Squid Powder
Chef Elena Arzak of Restaurante Arzak – San Sebastian, Spain
Adapted by StarChefs

In her twist on a traditional Basque squid dish, Elena Arzak seasons the main ingredient with itself – namely, a dusting of freeze-dried, powdered squid. Seasoning squid with squid (or mushrooms with mushrooms, and so on) sounds like a tautology, but it's a logical culinary step that heightens the flavor without complicating it. Why freeze-drying versus dehydration? According to the FDA, the benefits of using a lyophilizer (freeze-dryer) are as follows: enhanced stability in a dry state, removal of water without excessive heating of the product (heat damages delicate flavors), and rapid dissolution of reconstituted product. Arzak’s explanation is even simpler: she tried both, and freeze-drying yielded the best concentration of flavor.   

Step 1: Cook squid in olive oil on a plancha or in a hot pan
Step 2: Place squid in a freeze-dryer for 40 hours
Step 3: Grind to a fine powder and store in a dry place until use

Squid “Begi Haundi,” in Abstract
Chef Elena Arzak of Restaurante Arzak – San Sebastian, Spain
Translated and Adapted by StarChefs.com

Yield: 4 Servings


    Squid Powder:
  • 100 grams squid
  • 25 milliliters olive oil

    Grilled Squid:
  • 1 large squid (approximately 700 grams), trimmings reserved
  • Garlic oil
  • Salt
  • 8 grams orange peel, chopped and dried
  • Pinch parsley, chopped
  • Ginger powder
  • Sasparilla powder

    Earth Sauce:
  • 3 onions
  • 1 leek
  • Olive oil
  • 100 grams squid trimmings
  • 50 grams mushrooms, cleaned
  • 60 grams composted earth
  • 1500 grams water
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch of ground dried mushrooms

    Parsley Sauce:
  • 10 grams Earth Sauce
  • 4 grams orange peel, chopped and dried
  • Pinch of mushroom powder
  • Chopped parsley
  • 50 milliliters olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

    To Assemble and Serve:
  • Squid Powder
  • Parsley
  • Saffron threads
  • Salvia flowers

For the Squid Powder:
Cook squid in olive oil. Place in a lyophilizer for 40 hours to dehydrate, and grind to a fine powder.

For the Grilled Squid:
Clean the squid and reserve the wings and tentacles for the Earth Sauce. Cut the body length-wise down the center. Cut into 6-centimeter squares and score one side. Macerate the squid filets for 12 hours in garlic oil, salt, dried orange peel, parsley, and ginger and sasparilla powders.

For the Earth Sauce:
Julienne the onion and leek then sauté in olive oil. When cooked, add the mushrooms and squid trimmings and fry well. Combine earth and water, incorporate into the mushroom mixture, and cook for 15 minutes. Puree in a Vita-Prep and strain, and season with salt, pepper and a pinch of mushroom powder.

Parsley Sauce:
Combine Earth Sauce, dried orange peel, mushroom powder and parsley. At the last minute add the olive oil and season with salt and pepper, being careful not to over-mix.

To Assemble and Serve:
Grill squid on Jade Plancha until colored. Dust with the Squid Powder, another pinch of parsley, and saffron threads. Stand squid filets in the center of the plate (leaning against each other, so as to keep vertical). Drizzle Earth Sauce and Parsley Sauce, paint a stroke of Earth Sauce across the plate, and decorate with salvia flowers.