My lovely Geordie expat friends Iain and Gayle at Orce Serrano Hams recently sent me some of their amazing 16 month aged serrano ham. It is seriously good, everything you would expect from a quality meat that has been lovingly cured by these special people. I might be biased being a fellow Geordie but I beg you to get some ordered. You will not regret it.
Trying to do it justice in a recipe is another matter. Of course, the best way to eat such an amazing meat is to simply slice it off in generous slivers and consume with good bread, oil, olives and a gutsy Spanish red. But I couldn't resist the challenge of pairing it with something.
Thanks to the recent bout of hot weather, squid are being caught in their droves off our North East coast at the moment. And salty samphire, one of my highlights of the summer, is also in abundance.
A simple salt and pepper squid, crispy and hot, tossed with crunchy samphire, salty creamy ham and some sweet roasted peppers made for an excellent plate - a kind of surf and turf but more delicate - and I think it just did that sensational ham some justice. I'll leave that to the owners and your good selves to assess...
Squid, Ham and Samphire Salad
1 red pepper or a jar of quality roasted peppers
1 medium squid, prepared and sliced into 1cm slices
2 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp plain flour
Salt and pepper
2 good handfuls of samphire
8 slices of Serrano ham
For the dressing
A handful of basil leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 - To prepare the pepper, place directly onto your hob flames and using a pair of tongs, turn until it is black everywhere. Place into a plastic food bag, seal and leave to cool. When cool, remove the skin and seeds then slice into thin slices.
2 - Put the samphire into a bowl and pour over some boiling hot water. Leave for 1 minute, drain and cool under cold water. Drain and set aside.
3 - Fill a medium saucepan halfway with oil. Heat up. To test when it is ready, drop a piece of bread in. If it turns golden brown within 1 minute it is ready.
4 - Toss the squid in the flours, salt and pepper. Carefully lower into the oil and cook for no more than 1 minute when it will turn slightly golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
5 - Make a dressing by bashing up the basil in a pestle and mortar, stirring in the lemon juice and oil and seasoning.
6 - To plate up, arrange the samphire, roast peppers and squid on a plate then drizzle over a little of the basil oil.