Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Nero di Seppia
by SuSu, Wraith6, Sakim

Much to Padmé's surprise, Anakin not only knew what seppia was, but he said he actually liked it, having had it since childhood. He was sensitive about his early life as a slave, and so she never asked him about how a slave in a dry, hot planet got access to this watery creature. But on her staff was JarJar Binks, who had been in the Tatooine markets when Anakin was discovered by Qui-gon Jinn. The Gungan had told her about a squid-like animal with tentacles that was offered for sale by the merchants; they'd been grown in the relatively moist sewers beneath Mos Espa!

She didn't want to think about what the squiddy animals fed on in those damp sewers; quite frankly, she didn't want to deal with cleaning them anyway!

Padmé did love a particular dish that used the ink of the squid as well as the bodies, making for a brown or sometimes startling black sauce. She wanted her husband to try it too, ut her relationship with Anakin was against so many rules, they'd decided not to be seen together in public. This meant that if she wanted to share this meal with her secret husband, she needed to make it herself — or get someone she trusted to make it for her!

So, it fell to the 'droids to do the shopping and cooking for their mistress and master. Perhaps the fishmonger who dealt with the order for the ink of the squid did wonder what it was being used for. But seppia is the name for a brownish-black ink used in old-style printing ... perhaps the fishmonger simply thought the Naboo-born senator was trying to create a unique tablescape?

  • 2 lbs squid or cuttlefish, uncleaned and whole with squid ink (Unless you can pay or cajole someone else to do it, you'll need to clean the squid or cuttlefish. And when you do, you have to be sure to save the tiny, thin, silvery-black inksacks. For a step-by step, see below. Or if you can find it, buy the ink which is sometimes available in little packets, and the chopped squid separately.)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed, peeled
  • 4 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon crushed black pepper, or to taste
  • hot water, as needed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup white wine
  • salt, as needed
  • 1 lb / 450 g spaghetti
Chop the squid hoods and tentacles into bit-sized pieces. Keep the squid ink separate from the rest of the squid, and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pot and toss in the whole, cracked garlic. Poach gently without browning the garlic. When it starts to color slightly, add the chopped squid, the parsley, and black pepper. Cover and simmer over low heat for 40 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. The squid will become tender. If the liquid level is low, add a little water as needed.

Add in the tomato paste and white wine, and stir to combine. Simmer uncovered for another 30 minutes. The sauce should have a thickened sauce-like (but slightly thinner) appearance. Season to taste with salt, as needed. Turn off the heat, and stir in the reserved squid ink.

Boil the spaghetti till it's slightly underdone. Reserve a bit of the pasta water, then drain the pasta, and add to the squid sauce while hot. Toss to combine; if it seems too dry, add a bit of pasta water to loosen up the mixture. You'll notice the solid bits tend to the fall to the bottom — be sure to scoop it onto every serving.

Serves 4 as a main course, or 6 to 8 as an appetizer.

    Cleaning Squid and Collecting the Ink

  1. Remove the guts from the head by firmly grasping above the eyes with your major hand (usually the one you're comfortable writing with), and tugging. While you're there, also pull out the plasticky looking flexible bone called the quill. Discard the quill.

  2. You'll have the tenticles in your major hand, and the hood in your minor. Put aside the hood for now in a bowl. Observe the elongated silvery ink sacks. Carefully separate the sacks into a small bowl and reserve.

  3. There are also inky glands by the eyes. To access them, cut the head below the eyes and above the beak. You will see dark "dots" — about six of them in all — around the outsides of the eyeballs. Squeeze the ink into your recepticle, popping them with the tip of your knife if needed to get the ink flowing.

  4. Discard the eyes and guts.

  5. Open the ink sacks with the tip if your knife and collect the ink in a small bowl.

  6. Between the eyes and the tentacles, there will be a beak. It is surrounded by fleshy tissue and needs to be removed and discarded.

  7. Going back to the hood, peel off the fins, then peel the mottled skin off the hood and the fins. Use a paper towel to get a better grip, if necessary.

  8. To clean the inside of the hoods, invert them by putting the blunt end of a chop stick into the pointed end on the outside of the hood, and pushing it inside out. Scrape off the white muck, remove stringy and fibrous bits, etc. Reverse the hood when you're done.

  9. Wash the tentacles and bodies with cold water.

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