Recipe: Josie’s Seared Baby Cuttlefish with Merguez and Lentils

Chef Josie Le Balch celebrates her Santa Monica restaurant’s 12th anniversary by reviving dishes from the original menu, including this one.

Twelve years ago this week, chef Josie Le Balch opened her eponymous restaurant on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica. By fusing California’s breezy, ingredient-focused sensibilities with fine-dining meticulousness—and vigorously resisting trends—Le Balch created something timeless, but most of all, delicious. Don’t believe us? This Friday, Le Balch will be reviving the menu she served on Josie’s opening night in 2001, with dishes that would feel contemporary on just about any L.A. menu today: Roasted bone marrow with braised oxtail, wood-grilled quail, and wild boar tenderloin with fried rapini. If you can’t make it to the restaurant this month to try the anniversary menu, you can still relish the nostalgia at home with Le Balch’s recipe for seared baby cuttlefish with lemon and herbs, served with Merguez sausage and lentils. The dish starred as an appetizer on Josie’s original menu, and just happens to be the perfect light entree for the warm weekend ahead.

Chef Josie Le Balch’s Seared Sepia with Merguez Sausage and
Beluga Lentils

(Serves 4)

Spiced Olive Oil:

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon chili flakes
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

Sepia and Lentils:

½ pound sepia cuttlefish, cleaned, skinned, and julienned
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and black pepper
Spiced Olive Oil
¼ cup blanched spinach
1 Merguez sausage, cooked and sliced
½ fennel bulb, roasted and julienned
1 cup cooked Beluga lentils
2 tablespoons tomato, peeled, seeded, and diced


For Spiced Olive Oil:

In a small sauté pan, over medium heat, add the extra virgin olive oil and garlic. Cook until the garlic begins to slightly brown. Add the cumin, mustard seeds, and chili flakes and remove from the heat immediately. Allow the mixture to cool then add the oregano. Strain out 1 Tablespoon of oil without seeds and oregano and reserve. Set aside the rest.

For Sepia and Lentils:

In a small bowl, mix the sepia with the garlic and season with salt and black pepper. Place a medium-sized sauté pan over high heat. Coat the pan with 1 Tablespoon of the spiced olive oil. Add the sepia to the pan and cook while stirring. Add 2 Tablespoons of the spiced olive oil to the sepia, this time includsing the seeds, garlic, and oregano. Add the spinach, sausage, and fennel to the pan and heat while stirring. Add the lentils and tomato. Add 2 Tablespoons more oil, season with more salt and black pepper and serve.