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Charred Squid Skewers on Garlic Toast with Arugula Recipe

Course: Hot Appetizer
Total Time: Under 2 Hours
Skill Level: Moderate
Cost: Inexpensive
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 Charred Squid Skewers on Garlic Toast with Arugula

Photo by: Joseph De Leo

Often squid is deep-fried, so it’s fun to grill it for a change. For tender, lightly charred squid, cook the skewers quickly over a direct fire, with the coals as close as possible to the grate. A small hibachi that you can carry down to the beach will work very well. The spiced and charred squid skewers are served over a little bed of lemony arugula, with garlic toast underneath to catch all the vinaigrette and juices. Grill the toasts before you grill the squid and set them aside in a warm place.

Chermoula is a slightly spicy Moroccan sauce made with cilantro and garlic. Also try this marinade on grilled shrimp, scallop skewers, or chicken breasts.

Yield: Makes 6 servings


  • 2 pounds cleaned squid bodies, with or without tentacles
  • 12 or more to-inch bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained

for the chermoula marinade:

  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons sambal oelek or ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

for the lemon vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Lemon wedges for garnish


If your squid bodies have fins (thin flaps) attached to them, slice off and discard them. Put the blade of your knife inside a squid body and carefully slice it open, cutting away from you, so you have one flat piece. Cut this piece in half lengthwise. You will have two squid pieces, shaped like two long, tapered rectangles. Using your knife, lightly score the inside of each rectangle in a crosshatch pattern, not cutting all the way through.

Repeat this procedure with all the squid bodies.

To skewer the squid, thread one rectangle, lengthwise, onto a bamboo skewer, followed by two tentacles (if using), then another rectangle.

Pick up another skewer and continue until all the squid bodies are used. (You may have some tentacles left over; you can thread them together on a skewer.) Place the skewers in a nonreactive pan.

To make the marinade, combine the parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, garlic, paprika, sambal oelek, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a bowl and whisk in the oil. Pour the marinade over the squid, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To make the lemon vinaigrette, combine the lemon juice and shallot in a small bowl and whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Fire up your grill. Remove the skewers from the refrigerator and allow the squid to come to room temperature. Shake off the excess marinade, then grill the skewers over a hot fire, direct heat, with the lid off.

Turn the skewers several times as needed, until the squid is cooked through, opaque, and charred in a few places, about 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the heat of your fire. Do not overcook, or the squid will be tough. Remove the skewers from the grill.

Put the arugula in a bowl and toss it with about 2 tablespoons of the lemon vinaigrette.

Arrange the garlic toasts on a platter. Top each toast with some arugula salad. Put two squid skewers on top of each toast and drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the skewers. Garnish with the lemon wedges.


A Step Ahead: Cut the squid and assemble the skewers up to a day ahead and store, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator. Make the chermoula marinade and the lemon vinaigrette up to a day ahead and store, covered, in the refrigerator. Marinate the skewers 30 minutes before you plan to grill them.


If you buy whole squid instead of cleaned squid bodies, they will have to be cleaned. Place the whole squid on a cutting board and grasp the head and tentacles with one hand and the body with the other. Pull your hands apart. The head and tentacles will separate from the body.

Take the head and tentacle piece and, with a knife, slice off the tentacles just past the eyes. Squeeze out the hard beak and discard. Reserve the tentacles. Holding the body piece, pull out and discard the transparent quill. Use your finger to reach inside the body and pull out any remaining guts. Peel off the skin and rinse the inside of the body under running water.

© 2003 Tom Douglas and Jackie Cross

Editor's Note

Nutritional information includes 1/8 teaspoon of added salt per serving, but does not include the Garlic Toasts. For nutritional information on the Garlic Toasts, please follow the link above.


Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

212kcal (11%)
77mg (8%)
12mg (20%)
41mcg RAE (1%)
352mg (117%)
401mg (17%)
2g (8%)
10g (15%)
1mg (8%)

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