Effortlessly elegant and easy to make in large quantities, this appetizer by James Beard Award-winning chef Hiro Sone boasts a symphony of flavors that makes it a true crowd pleaser. This recipe requires 20 skewers, each about 4 inches long.
- 1 pinch saffron
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh garlic
- Kosher salt
- 20 bite-size cauliflower florets
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 10 small 3-inch-long whole squid, halved widthwise into bodies and tentacles, cleaned and patted dry
- 20 medium caperberries capers, or pitted green olives
First, make the aïoli. Place the saffron in a small bowl with 2 teaspoons lukewarm water and let sit for 30 minutes. In a small mixing bowl, whisk the mayonnaise and garlic with the saffron water. Season with salt to taste. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a small mixing bowl, toss the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt to taste. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the cauliflower on the baking sheet and roast for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Line two plates with paper towels. Transfer cauliflower to one of the plates to cool.
Preheat a large, heavy sauté pan on high heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the squid, and quickly sauté until lightly charred and cooked through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Transfer the squid to the second paper towel–lined plate to cool. When the squid is cool enough to handle, cut the bodies and tentacles in half lengthwise.
Thread one of the halved squid tentacles, a caperberry, one of the halved squid bodies, and a cauliflower floret onto a small skewer. Repeat with all 20 skewers.
Spread the aïoli decoratively on a platter, arrange the skewers on the aïoli, and serve.
Photography Maren Caruso