Grilled Squid with Fresh Red Chile and Arugula


One of the most popular dishes at the acclaimed River Café in London, this sophisticated starter has been on the menu every day since the restaurant opened in 1987. With its primary colors and strong flavors, the combination of just three ingredients is simple, pure, and right.



  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper


  • 8 medium squid (no bigger than your hand)

  • 6 large fresh red chiles, seeded and very finely chopped

  • cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

  • ½ pound arugula

  • 1 lemon, cut into quarters


  1. Dressing: Whisk together lemon juice and oil. Season with salt and pepper.

  2. Squid: Clean squid by cutting body open to make a flat piece and scraping out guts. Keep tentacles in their bunches but remove eyes and mouth. Using a serrated knife, score inner side of flattened squid body with parallel lines 1/2 inch apart, and then lines equally apart the other way to make crosshatching.

  3. To make the sauce, put chiles in a bowl and cover with oil. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. Heat grill for direct heat (or a grill pan on high). Place squid (including tentacles), scored-side down, on grill, season with salt and pepper, and grill 1 to 2 minutes. Turn squid pieces over; they will immediately curl up, by which time they will be cooked.

  5. Toss arugula in dressing. Arrange two squid bodies with tentacles on each plate with some arugula. Put a little chile sauce on squid and serve, with lemon quarters.

    river cafe grilled squid greens lemon white plate
    Matthew Donaldson

Cook's Notes

Excerpted from "River Café London" Copyright The River Café Ltd 2017.

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