Chipirones a la Plancha (Grilled Baby Squid): A Mediterranean Delicacy

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Chipirones a la plancha, or grilled baby squid, is a beloved dish that highlights the delicate flavors and tender texture of fresh squid. Popular in Mediterranean cuisine, particularly in Spain and Italy, this dish is celebrated for its simplicity and the ability to showcase the natural sweetness of squid with minimal seasoning. Grilling the squid over high heat imparts a smoky flavor while keeping the flesh tender and succulent. Whether served as a tapa (appetizer) or a main course, chipirones a la plancha offers a delightful seafood experience that is both light and satisfying. This article explores the culinary origins of chipirones a la plancha, its cultural significance, and provides a step-by-step recipe for you to prepare this Mediterranean delicacy at home.

History and Cultural Significance

Squid, or chipirones in Spanish, have long been a staple in Mediterranean coastal regions where seafood plays a prominent role in local cuisine. Grilling squid over an open flame or on a hot grill is a traditional method of preparation that dates back centuries, reflecting the region’s reliance on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Chipirones a la plancha epitomizes Mediterranean dining with its emphasis on simplicity, quality ingredients, and the art of grilling. Today, this dish continues to be a favorite among seafood enthusiasts, enjoyed for its fresh flavors and versatility in various culinary preparations.

Ingredients for Chipirones a la Plancha

To prepare chipirones a la plancha, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 pound of baby squid (chipirones): Cleaned and patted dry.
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil: Extra virgin.
  • 2 cloves of garlic: Minced.
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley: Chopped.
  • Juice of 1 lemon: Freshly squeezed.
  • Salt and black pepper: To taste.
  • Optional: Red pepper flakes or paprika: For added spice (if desired).

Recipe for Chipirones a la Plancha

Preparing the Squid:

  1. Cleaning the Squid:
    • Rinse the baby squid under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.
    • Remove the tentacles (reserve them for cooking) and the quill from inside the body.
    • If desired, peel off the thin membrane from the outside of the body.
  2. Prepping the Squid:
    • Score the squid bodies with a sharp knife in a crosshatch pattern, being careful not to cut all the way through.
    • This helps the squid cook evenly and allows flavors to penetrate.

Grilling the Squid:

  1. Preheating the Grill:
    • Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Ensure the grill grates are clean and lightly oiled to prevent sticking.
  2. Seasoning and Grilling:
    • In a bowl, combine the olive oil, minced garlic, chopped parsley, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, and optional red pepper flakes or paprika (if using).
    • Toss the cleaned baby squid and tentacles in the marinade until evenly coated.
  3. Grilling the Squid:
    • Place the squid bodies and tentacles on the preheated grill.
    • Grill the squid for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until they are opaque and lightly charred.
    • Be careful not to overcook the squid, as they can become tough. The cooking time may vary depending on the size of the squid.

Serving Chipirones a la Plancha:

  1. Garnishing and Serving:
    • Transfer the grilled squid to a serving platter or individual plates.
    • Drizzle any remaining marinade over the squid.
    • Garnish with additional chopped parsley and lemon wedges for squeezing over the squid.
  2. Serving Suggestions:
    • Serve chipirones a la plancha hot, as a tapa (appetizer) with crusty bread and a glass of chilled white wine.
    • Alternatively, serve them as a main course with a side salad or grilled vegetables for a complete meal.


Chipirones a la plancha, or grilled baby squid, is a delightful expression of Mediterranean seafood cuisine, celebrated for its simplicity and fresh flavors. Whether enjoyed as a tapa or a main course, this dish invites you to savor the natural sweetness and tender texture of squid grilled to perfection. With its rich history and cultural significance in Mediterranean coastal regions, chipirones a la plancha continues to captivate seafood enthusiasts around the world. So, fire up your grill, prepare your marinade, and indulge in the exquisite flavors of this Mediterranean delicacy in the comfort of your own home.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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