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squid and endive

Introducing the first in a series of Friday recipes that feature seasonal North Sea fish.

This week we visited a fish shop on the south side of Antwerp. On special were sole and brill, two flat fish not to be fished during their breeding season which take place during the warmer months. After verifying our suspicion on the terrific phone app of the good fish, we asked the smiling man behind the counter about the fish, noting our concerns.

“All our fish are good,”

Not if they’re out of season, I thought. Not if they’re caught while the fish are breeding, I thought. Not if they’re too small and never get to fulfill their destiny to lay some eggs.

No, I thought, not all fish are good.

Unwilling to compromise despite the tempting price, we opted for some high priced squid caught in the North Sea.

A (very)short history of Squids in Belgium

This is a new product available in fish shops in Northern Europe. Up until 80s, any squid this far north had to be shipped in from the Mediterranean or further. But due to global climate change, warming seas and migrating populations, squids can be found inking up northern waters. That’s why we’ve all heard of and enjoyed Italian calamari or Sicilian stuffed quid but would be pretty hard pressed to find a traditional Belgian or Swedish recipe featuring this slick little mollusk (not a fish, btw!)

So what does a home chef do when the climate changes but traditions remain the same? Replace the quotidian with the unorthodox!

If you’re in Belgium that means you turn stoofvlees into stoofvis or Vol-au-vent into ink-au-vent.

Or, maybe, you keep thinking…

Rather than overwhelm the squid with such heavy sauces, we decided on something a little more harmonious. After taking a look in the kitchen, we noticed the squid looks a lot like a Belgian endive. (Once you see it, you’ll never not see it again!) Taking cues from traditional recipes that place the endive at its core. We settled on a take of Witloof in Kaassaus – Endive in Cheese Sauce.

We settled on a take of Witloof in Kaassaus – Endive in Cheese Sauce.

We softened the recipe even further by integrating a light yogurt vinaigrette to balance the subtility of the squid’s flavor. We wrapped the squid in Ardennais smoked ham, but you can use what’s local. And we tipped our hat to the Belgian vegetable by pairing the squid with a diced endive salad.

Smakelijk! Bon Appetit!

Grilled squid with crisp endive salad

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course Salad
Servings 2 people


  • grill pan


  • 2 pieces squid fresh or defrosted
  • 4 slices cured ham bayonne, serano, …
  • 4 pieces endive green and/or red
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
  • 3 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 4 tbs yoghurt
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil for baking


  • Wrap the cured ham around the squid and fasten with a sewer. Set aside.
  • Remove the outer leaves of the endive and cut into bitesized quarters. Put in a bowl.
  • Mix the remaining ingredients to make a dressing. Season to taste with sugar, salt and pepper. It should be a bit sweet and tangy.
  • Mix the dressing with the endive and pile on a large plate.
  • Put a bit of olive oil in the griddle pan and heat until smoking. Fry the squid on both sides until the ham crisps up and the squid is done (no longer translucent). +/- 4 minutes per side depending on how big the squid is.
  • Remove the skewers and top the salad with the grilled squid. Enjoy!


Latin name: Loligo vulgaris

Catching area & landing: The squid is common in the North Sea and the northeastern part of the Atlantic Ocean. Squids are difficult to overfish because they are fast growing and short lived. In the North Sea, the squids die at the end of May and around September / October a new generation is swimming in the channel again.

Fishing method: fly shoot technique
It is sustainable because of its low energy consumption, low maintenance costs, hardly any soil disturbance or unwanted bycatch.

Season: September to April.

Cooking: Don’t overcook the delicate meat is delicate. otherwise it will become tough. Often a few minutes are enough.

Sustainable option because

  • difficult to overfish because they are fast growing and short lived
  • sustainable fishing technique (fly shooting)

Jennifer Schleber

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Joseph Puglisi (travel writer. & photographer) - Jennifer Schleber (Chef)

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