I once took my Aunt Lena to the Limehouse, an Italian seafood restaurant on Bayard & Mott in NYs Chinatown and we ordered this. She thought it was terrible and said she could do better. She did.
Simmer red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper and garlic in oil. Add a tomato paste and stir until smooth. Clean out the paste can with a little water (or wine) and add to sauce. Drain two 7 oz. cans of scungilli, add the liquid to the sauce and stir until it’s smooth. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the scungilli and simmer for another 5 minutes. The sauce should be thick. Add some pasta water to make it the right consistency. This type of sauce is also good with shrimp. Save the shells after you clean the shrimp and boil the shells in some water to make a simple stock. Use that water to thin the sauce.
Do I even have to say it? Its seafood, so no cheese.
This seafood salad is from my sister Nicki. It’s a traditional Christmas Eve appetizer.
Calamari (Squid) – Cut the cleaned calamari (not lengthwise) into 1/2” circles. If you did not buy cleaned calamari you must clean the calamari under cold running water. Pull the head out of the body, making sure to get the clear “bone” out. Squeeze the body from the tail to the opening to get out any residue. Then peel the thin skin off the body. Snip off the eyes and make sure you get the small beak out. (Go for the extra buck and buy cleaned calamari). Boil the calamari in rapidly boiling salted water for 2 to 3 minutes. They should be tender not rubbery. Drain and set aside.
Scungilli (Conch)– Fresh scungilli can be purchased at an Italian fish market. If you choose to use the fresh you should buy more than a pound because there is a lot of waste when you clean it. Rinse the fresh scungilli thoroughly under cold running water. Boil the whole scungilli in rapidly boiling salted water for about 7 – 10 minutes. Drain and rinse. Slice each piece thinly, discarding the “tail” section and any hard pieces along the edges. There is really quite a bit of waste cleaning scungilli. Canned scungilli saves time, makes your life easier and is very good. I have found that La Monica is the best-canned brand and I have been using the canned for the past few years.
Pulpo (Octopus) – Rinse under cold running water before submerging the whole octopus into salted boiling water. Boil for 30 minutes or more until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Cut off the octopus’ head and cut to separate each tentacle. With a kitchen scissor nip the dark purple skin and run your fingers along the “suckers” to release any loose particles. Cut each tentacle into small rounds.
Put all the seafood salad ingredients in a large bowl with the celery and garlic. Add the parsley, oil and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly. These salads can be made the day before and refrigerated.