Chipirones al romesco

by Leonardo Rivera Ruiz

Baby squid in a tomato-pepper sauce

Romesco sauce is typically served on the side of barbecued or pan-fried squid, octopus or cuttlefish, but in this recipe, which uses baby squid (chipirones), the ingredients are all cooked together to create a warming, homely little stew which is thickened at the end with a picada—in this case a paste of crushed fried bread, nuts and sautéed garlic. Traditionally, the stew would be made in a barro, or clay pot. If chipirones aren’t available, you can use small squid (calamares), up to about 6cm. It’s best to get the fishmonger to remove the black ink sack for you, while keeping the little tentacles intact and in place.


4 ñora peppers
3-4 ripe tomatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1kg chipirones, or small squid, cleaned (about 1½kg uncleaned)
250ml fumet rojo (red fish stock)
1 tbsp sherry vinegar

For the picada:
1 medium slice of country bread without crust, fried in olive oil until golden, then drained on kitchen paper
15g toasted hazelnuts, chopped
15g blanched almonds, preferably Marcona, toasted in a dry pan and chopped
2 tbsp olive oil


Soak the peppers in warm water for 30 mins, then scrape out the flesh and set aside, keeping the skins too. Either grate the tomatoes or, if you prefer, de-skin and de-seed them.

Heat a little oil in a deep pan or casserole, put on the whole pepper skins and garlic cloves and cook gently until coloured, then lift out, discard the pepper skins and keep the garlic to one side for the picada. Keep the pan, ready to cook the squid.

If you are using calamares, open them out and score them with a sharp knife diagonally in one direction and then the other to form a diamond pattern, making sure you don’t cut all the way through. Chipirones don’t need scoring. Put the pan back on the heat and when hot, add the chipirones or calamares and fry quickly until coloured on all sides. Remove from the pan and keep to one side.

Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan and cook for 10 mins until softened, then add the reserved pepper flesh, the chipirones or calamares and the stock and leave to simmer for 10 mins, until reduced by half.

To make the picada, break up the slice of fried bread and either pound with the nuts and reserved garlic using a pestle and mortar, or pulse in a blender. Add the olive a little at a time until you have a rough paste. Add the picada to the stew to further thicken the sauce, and then at the final moment stir in the vinegar.

Recipe: Leonardo Rivera