Credit: Photographed remotely by Earl Carter

Stuffed squid in vine leaves

David Moyle is a chef. He is a food editor of The Saturday Paper.

Credit: Photographed remotely by Earl Carter

Trawling as a fishing method has been heavily scrutinised of late. For quite some time, after seeing the effects of huge factory ships and large-scale practice, I refused to cook with anything that had been caught in nets. Squid, specifically southern calamari, was one of the first seafoods I came back to after seeing the delicate dip-netting technique (purse seine) used in Tasmania. It seemed a bit more gentle. 

The small Gould’s squid in this dish are harvested in nets out of the Clarence River system. This system supports several other fisheries, namely prawn and whiting, that are harvested using similar techniques. The nutrient density in these estuaries supports these fisheries, and with the floods and prior droughts these waterways are an ever-changing ecology.

Grilling seafood over coals brings me huge joy. I love this technique of basically treating the squid as an element in dolmades. The key difference with these is that I don’t secure the vine leaves completely, therefore allowing the squid to get a little kiss from the coals. I like to serve them fresh from the grill or at room temperature with a squeeze of lemon and some more olive oil. They could also be grilled and stored in the fridge to be served at a later date.


Serves 4 as a snack

Time: 1 hour preparation + 20 minutes cooking

  • 1kg small squid
  • 2 shallots 
  • 30ml olive oil
  • 20ml sherry vinegar 
  • 50g currants
  • pinch dried oregano
  • pinch espelette pepper
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 150g medium-grain rice
  • salt to season
  • 10 vine leaves
  1. Clean the squid by first removing the outer membrane and the wings. Then pull the legs out together with the guts and spine from the hood, while still keeping the hood intact. Fold the hood inside out like a sock and clean thoroughly with paper towel. Cut the legs away from the rest and chop them into small pieces.
  2. Finely dice the shallots and sweat them out in the olive oil before adding the chopped squid legs. Sauté for a minute on high heat before adding the sherry vinegar. Add the currants, oregano, pepper and cinnamon, then remove from the heat.
  3. Steam the rice and after it has rested (10 minutes) add the currant and shallot mix. Stir this through and check for seasoning, adding more spice if necessary and some salt.
  4. Stuff this mix while still warm into the cavity of the squid. Wrap each one in vine leaves, then secure with a metal skewer. 
  5. Grill over coals for about five minutes, moving them regularly to prevent the leaves getting too blackened.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on September 17, 2022 as "Squid games".

For almost a decade, The Saturday Paper has published Australia’s leading writers and thinkers. We have pursued stories that are ignored elsewhere, covering them with sensitivity and depth. We have done this on refugee policy, on government integrity, on robo-debt, on aged care, on climate change, on the pandemic.

All our journalism is fiercely independent. It relies on the support of readers. By subscribing to The Saturday Paper, you are ensuring that we can continue to produce essential, issue-defining coverage, to dig out stories that take time, to doggedly hold to account politicians and the political class.

There are very few titles that have the freedom and the space to produce journalism like this. In a country with a concentration of media ownership unlike anything else in the world, it is vitally important. Your subscription helps make it possible.

Select your digital subscription

Month selector

Use your Google account to create your subscription