Taste of South America, Part 2: Squid Ink Love in Buenos Aires

Dining in Buenos Aires is like dining in any other major city in the world–the options are plentiful.  There is no denying the superior beef my travel companions and I sampled during our visit but to assume that the city’s top offerings are limited to grilled meat is not entirely accurate.  I say this with a finger pointed at me.  Not quite knowing where I picked up this impression, I carried it to Buenos Aires with me for no reason other than sheer ignorance but I was happy to discard it as soon as I began to taste what the cosmopolitan city had to offer.

Case in point?  Buenos Aires fed my current obsession with all dishes featuring squid ink.  One of my favorite dishes prepared by my mother was adobong pusit (ah-doh-bong pooh-sit), the traditional Filipino preparation of cooking meats in vinegar, but rather than the typical chicken or pork, squid is the featured ingredient.  The meat is cut crosswise, sometimes left whole, the cartilage removed and the ink sack collected.  Then it is simmered in vinegar and the ink.  It is a simple dish–at least my mother made it look so–but I have never tried making it myself.  There are some foods I grew up eating that I am afraid to try out of fear that I would not do justice to my mother’s version.  This is one of them.  Black, rich and deeply flavored, pusit, as it is called for short, tastes more than just of the sea.  Squid ink imparts a complex flavor that I can’t quite describe but there is no denying I am in love with it.

 

On our third night, we secured a reservation at Osaka, a Peruvian-Japanese restaurant in the Palermo-Hollywood barrio of Buenos Aires.  Hip and alive, the neighborhood was hopping with a younger, trendy crowd.  Osaka’s menu was generous in its offerings, traditional Japanese sushi and gyoza saluting Peruvian tastes and Peruvian favorites nodding back with Japanese flavors.  My friends and I opted to have dinner tapas-style, selecting our favorites from the menu to share with everyone.  I took a picture of the menu so I could accurately describe the dishes when the time came (as in now) but my pictures did not deliver.  I’m only mildly disappointed, however.  As soon as I spotted the Arroz Negro con Calamares my vision blurred at the other items on the menu.  I had the honor of the first taste and unlike the disorganized service which marred just a bit our dining experience, the arroz negro didn’t disappoint.  Would it be bad of me to say that I wish I had the entire plate to myself?  Just being honest.

 

On our last day in Buenos Aires, before moving on to Mendoza, the nation’s wine capital, my friends and I had lunch at Sottovoce on Avenida del Libertador.  This was our first departure from Sylvie, our tour guide’s recommendations, but it turns out we made a good call, too.  Sottovoce is an Italian restaurant (sotto voce means whisper or under the breath) and specializes in pasta and fish.  The stuffed pasta is made on the premises while the dried pastas are provided by a pasta factory.

Sottovoce is a white-tablecloth establishment but the atmosphere is not at all stuffy.  Bread, slices of mortadella and other small bites were promptly set before us as we perused the day’s offerings.  My husband quickly selected a pasta with simple tomato sauce topped with fresh arugula, a friend ordered the stuffed pasta of the day, still another the lasagne alla bolognese while another, the pasta with anchovy sauce.  Me?  I invite you to guess.

As it was at Osaka, so it was at Sottovoce.  As soon as I saw the Spaghetti Nero con Gamberi, I put down my menu.  I am often disappointed by shrimp dishes because most of the time flavor is hugely lacking.  In this case, the shrimp tasted the way they should and were perfectly cooked.  But it was the pasta I was after.  The spaghetti had the squid ink essence I like so much and it was highlighted perfectly by the shrimp and sauce.  As is customary when dining with our close friends, we had a taste of each other’s dishes but I won’t deny that I was very happy to have the bulk of my squid ink pasta to myself.

 

In order to keep my squid ink love alive, I vowed to finally try my mother’s adobong pusit upon returning home.  However, it has been a month and I have not yet mustered the courage to deal with fresh squid and to collect the ink sack myself.  As a compromise, I attempted to recreate my pasta dish from Sottovoce.  I didn’t get around to asking for their recipe but my version proved just as satisfying.  The white truffle oil didn’t hurt either.  Next time, I’ll make my own squid ink pasta.

 

5.0 from 9 reviews
Squid Ink Spaghetti with Shrimp and White Truffle Oil
 
Squid Ink Spaghetti pairs well with seafood but a drizzle of white truffle oil takes this simple dish to new heights.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 pound squid ink pasta (you can find this at specialty stores)
  • 1 pound (15 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 6 oz jar of clams with juice (I would prefer fish or other seafood stock but I forgot to defrost mine from the freezer. If you have it, substitute about ½ cup stock in place of the clams)
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup half and half
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • Juice of ½ large lemon or 1 whole
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Chopped Italian parsley for garnish
  • White Truffle oil
Instructions
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente while you prepare the sauce.
  2. In a pan large enough to accommodate the pasta, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat and add the crushed red pepper. Follow with the garlic and cook for a minute making sure not to brown it.
  3. Add the clams and juice (or fish stock if using) and turn the heat up to high. Follow with the wine and cook for 2-3 minutes until the wine has reduced a bit.
  4. Add the lemon juice then the half and half. Simmer for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the shrimp, cover the pan and cook for a minute or two just until the shrimp turn pink. Season with salt, to taste.
  6. Add the pasta, toss until combined with the sauce. It make seem like you have a lot of sauce but the pasta will quickly absorb it.
  7. Arrange the pasta on a plate and drizzle with truffle oil. Garnish with parsley and serve.

 

 

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Comments

  1. Oh man – this is my favorite ever kind of pasta – and then you throw in truffle oil? I would kill for this!

    • lemonsandanchovies says:

      Kiri, the truffle oil is what made this dish. The original in Buenos Aires didn’t have it but I’m so glad I used it here. :)

  2. I don’t like squid all that much bit how you presented your plate I would try in a heart beat!!!!! Beautiful photos!!!!!

  3. What a beautiful dish! A little intimidating looking for sure, but I bet very, very delicious! Thank you for sharing your recipe and memories of your travels!

  4. This sounds really good! Where do you get squid ink pasta?

    • lemonsandanchovies says:

      Hi Amy, I got mine at a specialty store in Carmel but later found it closer to home. I bet you can order it online. I’ll check for you. :)

  5. Jean, I’m so enjoying your trip and I’m thrilled to see the food through your eyes. Squid ink… hmmm… Now that is something I’ve never had, and if it were not for your recommendation I would run the other direction if I saw it on the menu. Now after reading this post I’m intrigued. The dish you made sounds absolutely amazing, and as always, your photos are beautiful!
    I’m hoping there are more parts to your travel adventure!!

    • lemonsandanchovies says:

      Kim, thanks so much! I hope you don’t end up saying “no more of South America!” because I’ve got a few more posts planned!

      The squid ink gets people’s attention but I assure you it’s quite good. I grew up eating it but for reference, my husband didn’t and this is now one of his favorite pasta dishes. :)

  6. I’ve never tried squid ink, but your pasta does look delicious. If you made it, I’d sample it! :)

    Here’s a fun story for you about squid: Years ago when we dined out as a family, my brother and I always wanted chicken tenders. If we were at a seafood restaurant (and we often were in Monterey & Carmel), my dad would point to calamari on the menu and, with a wink, ask the server to bring us the “chicken tenders.” This charade went on at least a year or so until we finally caught on!

  7. I love remembering my travels through food! I’ve never had squid ink but I’d definitely try it — this is stunning, Jean!

  8. Beautiful dish, love the last shot makes me want to taste something that I would at first glance have a tough time trying since the noodles are so dark they remind me of something not so pleasant ;). Your trip sound amazing now has me thinking a trip to South America needs to be planned.

    • lemonsandanchovies says:

      Oh my gosh, Suzanne, that didn’t even occur to me but now that you mention it, I know what you mean! I promise–squid ink pasta is good! :)

  9. This is an absolutely gorgeous dish! And it looks like it tastes amazing. I’m so jealous of your trip, sounds like it was wonderful!

  10. I don’t know what it is but I LOVE squid ink everything! I fell in love with squid ink pasta about 6 years back in Miami and recently found a love for squid ink paella & fried rice. So good! Your dish looks beautiful & sounds fantastic! I love the hint of truffle oil.

    • lemonsandanchovies says:

      Lacy, I’m so glad not be alone in my squid ink love! It’s great, isn’t it? Paella negra is next on my list! :)

  11. I am not sure I have ever tried squid ink pasta before. Usually it is served with a sauce I am not fond of, so I never get it when it is on a menu. It always looks so pretty though with the stark contrasts – great job!

  12. Now you’ve got me thinking about squid ink pasta, the color really is striking and would probably compliment anything you put on it but with the lemon slices and the shrimp- now that’s a winner;-) Your trip sounds wonderful, thanks for sharing the highlights of your dining experience and your passion for the squid ink pasta.

  13. OMG, Jean! I also went to Osaka, but for lunch!! I love the food there because I love both Japanese and Peruvian food. And together, the sum is really greater than its parts! I miss Osaka :( But I am loving your squid ink pasta! And did you say Adobong Pusit? My fave Filipino squid dish!

    • lemonsandanchovies says:

      Jen, have you ever made adobong pusit before? I don’t know why I’m so intimidated by it. It’s so good, though! :)

  14. If the restaurant has squid ink, my husband or I always order it. Where did you get squid ink? I actually never look for it or even thought about making it. Such a gorgeous dish Jean!!! I don’t always see squid ink pasta here, but it’s pretty common in Japan (in Italian restaurant). I guess people here don’t eat squid besides calamari so it’s strange thing to eat? I loooove your recipe….

    • lemonsandanchovies says:

      Nami, I bought the squid ink pasta but I hear there is a specialty store in SF that sells it. If you want squid ink pasta, Sigona’s at Stanford Shopping Center has it. I’d be happy to pick some up for you for the next time we get together. :) Next time, I’d like to make my own squid ink pasta. So glad you like it, too.

  15. Wow, Jean! This looks amazing & I love your lemon juicer – I’ve nver seen one like that before.

    I’ve given you the “Versatile Blogger Award!” Please stop by my blog to “Pick it up.” http://www.createamazingmeals.com/2012/03/versatile-blogger-award.html

    Congratulations!

    • lemonsandanchovies says:

      Susan, the lemon juicer was a vintage find a couple of years ago at a flea market in South of France. I regret not buying more but at 10 euro a piece I thought it was a bit much. It was a nice souvenir, though. :)

      Thanks so much for the award. Dropping by your blog to pick it up right now! :)

  16. i love squid ink pasta and not only, i adore it, but give me squid and you’re done :))
    Beautiful looking dish, as always Jean. And the Mexican dinner you just teased on Facebook, why can’t I be your next door neighbor?

  17. How funny I grew up watching my great-grandmother clean squid, but I’ve never had the courage to do it myself either. I love all the variety of food there, not what I expected at all. I hope I get to travel next year, I finally have a passport. I’ll know where to go now. I can’t wait to see your version, I know it will be great. Hope you are having a great week, hope to see you again soon.
    -Gina-

  18. I remember chatting with you, was it last year?, about making squid ink pasta. You finally did it!!! And it looks just amazing, I wish I could have a taste right now! You know I’ve got to try this as soon as I return home :)

  19. I love adobong pusit but for some reason have never cooked it here. I am a bit squeamish about the ink sac. I love anything flavoured with it though, especially black pasta. It just captures all the essence of the squid. I love all the complementary flavours you’ve added and I am seriously craving for some right now.

  20. Squid ink pasta? How fun! I don’t think I’ve seen them around my local grocery store so I’ll look for it at Whole Foods. That place has everything I need.

  21. Thank you for taking us along on your trip, so much fun!! And WOW what a wow dish to serve to guests, my family would love this!! stunning!!

  22. never tried squid ink and i am kind of scared to try too! :P
    but your presentation of the dish is gorgeous .. like a pro. I can never photoshoot spaghetti that nicely.

  23. Just STUNNING!!! The contrast between the pasta and shrimp is amazing….so photogenic! You rocked this dish, my friend!

  24. What a splendid dish! That flavor combination is just amazing.

    Gorgeous clicks.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  25. Lora @cakeduchess says:

    Argentina is one of my most favorite places in the world. We have family there and I would love to go visit them again. The food is amazing :)I bet you can make your mother’s adobong pusit…I can’t wait to see it:) Your pasta looks incredible!!

  26. My first go to meal would have been beef, too. I mean, while you’re there, wouldn’t it be a shame to skip this one? ;) But frankly, other than that, I don’t know a lot more about Argentinian cuisine, either.

    Alright, call me foolish, but I have never had anything with sqid ink before. Maybe it’s the colour (which by the way works beautifully with the bright shrimps in your pasts, contrast-wise) combined with the lack of availability (I know where to buy squid ink pasta. but nothing else let alone just the ink – never really looked, though. Now that I read how many people really like it, I feel like I’m missing out. Please, is there a way of describing the taste?

    Thank you for your travel writing! It’s a great and interesting read!

    Cheers,
    Tobias

  27. Oh, your mother would be proud no doubt…you did this well, and then some! What a beautiful dish with a perfect balance of flavors! I love hearing about your trip and hope to experience it first hand someday :)

  28. Another great post Jean! The photos and recipe are delicious. I’ve always been curious about trying food with squid ink, you are convincing me to give it a try soon :)

  29. Judy | Bebe Love Okazu says:

    Hi Jean! Your pasta looks beautiful and delicious! The first time I tried squid ink pasta was about 15 years ago in Japan and at the time it was new and very popular there. The flavor wasn’t something that I loved but it is certainly tasty. What was funny is that my aunt and I took public transportation home while trying to hide our black teeth and tongue while we talked. LOL. :) Sounds like you had a wonderful trip with good friends!

  30. Hi – what a fabulous recipe! But I’m a Brit and I need a little translation, please:-)

    I’ve figured out what half and half is, but what do you mean by crushed red pepper? Fresh or dried chilli? Bell pepper? Cayenne?

    Thanks!

  31. Mei-I @ gastronomic nomad says:

    I just picked up some fresh squid ink pasta and was wondering how to use it. This is exactly what I was looking for! Can’t wait to try it for dinner tomorrow evening.

  32. Great recipe! Very tasty!

  33. the recipe calls for butter, but i don’t see it being used in the directions…

    • lemonsandanchovies says:

      Hi Sandy,
      Thanks for catching that. The butter goes into the pan along with the olive oil at the beginning of the cooking process. I’ve corrected the instructions. Thanks so much for letting me know! :)

  34. Roberto Alvarez says:

    How many servings in your recipe? Thanks, Roberto

  35. Hi,the recipe looks great but I can’t figure out what the half & half is?

    • Hi Barb. Half-n-half is a commercial dairy product that is half cream and half milk. You can use all cream or all whole milk for this recipe. Hope this helps. :)

Trackbacks

  1. […] would you like a taste of Buenos Aires? Sign me up! This squid ink spaghetti recipe from the Lemons and Anchovies blog reminds me of a beautiful black pasta I had many years ago at […]

  2. […] conclusion of my Taste of South America series.  For parts 1 – 3, please click here, here and here. […]

  3. […] of the highlights just like I’ve done with our South America trip earlier this year (part 1, part 2, part 3, part […]

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