Spaghetti with cuttlefish and ink sauce

Spaghetti with cuttlefish and ink sauce

It’s a mystery to me why cuttlefish hasn’t enjoyed the popularity in England that it has in Italy and Spain, where most of it is sent after it has been landed by British fishermen. Cuttlefish has a good flavour (better than squid, which is much more popular, and it’s about a quarter of the price).

Serves 2


olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 kg/2 lb 4 oz cleaned and prepared cuttlefish, cut into strips

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

75 ml/21⁄2 fl oz/1⁄3 cup dry white wine

3 tbsp tomato purée

8 tomatoes, roughly chopped

small handful of curly parsley, finely chopped

2 tbsp cuttlefish or squid ink

200 g/7 oz spaghetti


Pour a generous glug of olive oil into a casserole dish over a medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and fry for 5–6 minutes, until lightly golden. Add the cuttlefish and fry for a further 1–2 minutes. Season with salt, then pour in the wine and cook until it has reduced by half.

Add the tomato purée, tomatoes and a little more wine or water if the pan is too dry (the cuttlefish will release liquid as it cooks) and cook for another minute. Add half the parsley and lastly all the ink, stir, bring to a gentle simmer, cover and cook gently for about 45–50 minutes, until the cuttlefish is really tender when you stick a knife into it (it should have the texture of braised belly pork fat; if you need to cook it longer to get there then do so).

If you have lots of liquid still in the pan, ladle most of it out into another saucepan and boil to reduce it by as much as you need to thicken it, then add it back to the stew. The final texture should be thick, so that when you spoon it on to plates you don’t have juice spilling out of it. 

Meanwhile, boil the spaghetti until al dente, then drain. Add it to the cuttlefish sauce. Serve sprinkled with the remaining parsley.