"Every student in Spain used to eat squid sandwiches," says Maria José San Román, quite possibly the best-known chef in the sunny town of Alicante in southeastern Spain. "It was just deep-fried squid and mayonnaise on a long roll."
San Román, whose Taberna del Gourmet has been called the best tapas bar in Spain (and not only by me) and whose Monastrell serves wonderful contemporary variations on local traditional dishes, is very serious about her raw materials, seafood above all, and she likes to serve it in ways that allow its freshness and flavor to shine. That's why she had the idea of reinventing the heavy-handed student cliché as an elegant grilled delight to serve at the bar attached to Monastrell.
To make her bocadillo (the word just means sandwich in Spanish), she freezes good bread so that she can slice it cardboard-thin. She also freezes the impeccably fresh squid she buys daily from the fish market in nearby Santa Pola, then shaves it into translucent wisps. She then puts the raw squid between two pieces of bread and fries it to golden-brown on both sides in extra-virgin olive oil. "The squid cooks just enough in the time it takes the bread to toast," she says.
She serves this unusual and irresistible sandwich with thick lines of onion, tomato, and squid-ink sauce on the plate—just enough to drag the edge of the sandwich through.
Barra Monastrell, Rafael Altamira 7, Alicante, Spain, Tel. 965 146 575
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