Category Archives: Squid

Korean Squid with Smoked Streaky Bacon and an Indian Touch

squid_porkpI grew up ignoring the taste of squid and clearly remember the first time I had it, as an adult. The “honey and garlic” squid was sweet, tender, crisp and I ordered it many times in a Thai restaurant which is now very far away. I fell in love instantly and the older I am, the more I am fond of this humble seafood representative. Several years ago I learnt how to make Korean-style squid with gochujang and it used to be my absolute number one until I made this dish for the first time. My kind friend C. – to whom I will always be extremely grateful  – told me about Spicy Pork and Squid Stir-Fry she saw at Beyond Kimchee blog. Barely looking at the name of the recipe I already knew I would like it. I will not bore you with my detailed impressions. I will only say – having cooked it at least five times in the past month – that while Korean squid alone is excellent, squid with smoked bacon is a truly magical invention.

Apart from the truly revolutionary – at least for me – combination of pork and squid, the presence of Indian spices and of caramel (!) slightly changes the typical Korean flavours, but instead of hiding them, it just adds an additional dimension of flavours. In short, it’s a unique dish for different reasons and an exciting new squid cooking option.

Before I pass to the details, I must warn you that, apart from usual slight modifications of ingredients (and changes making it a dish for one), I have used smoked streaky bacon instead of raw pork belly simply because I had lots of it… (but as a big fan of smoked meats, I loved the result). Moreover, since some time ago I had stopped using curry powder, I replaced it here with a mixture of Indian spices I use to roast chicken breast for example. Needless to say, I strongly encourage you to visit Beyond Kimchee not only to check the original of probably the most original Korean recipe I’ve ever read, but most of all to admire highly inspiring and beautifully photographed Korean dishes you will find there.

TIPS: If you have never cooked squid, but found it always unpleasantly tough and rubbery, there might be three reasons for that: either it was cooked a bit too long or not long enough (the cooking time for squid is either very short or very long, nothing in between!) or… it’s simply not your cup of tea. Many people dislike squid because of its texture – slightly chewy, even if perfectly cooked – but those who love it, usually appreciate it a lot (I do!). Here squid should be stir-fried very briefly, but if you are a beginner, check it every 5 seconds because the timing depends on the thickness or size of the squid as well as the temperature of your pan and it overcooks easily.

Some seasonal suggestions posted at the same time in previous years…

Okonomiyaki with Green Onions

Okonomiyaki with Green Onions

Cucumber Fried with Perilla (Shiso)

Cucumber Fried with Perilla (Shiso)

Mango and Chilli Sauce

Mango and Chilli Sauce

Tomato and Shiso Salad

Tomato and Shiso Salad

Chilli Jelly

Chilli Jelly

Teriyaki Pork Rolls with Shiso and Gochujang

Teriyaki Pork Rolls with Shiso and Gochujang

Preparation: about 30 minutes

Ingredients (serves one):

1 big squid

1 small carrot, cut into quarters or thick matchsticks

2-3 thin strips of streaky smoked bacon/smoked pork belly, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 small onion, sliced

Spicy sauce:

1 garlic clove, crushed

1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon rice wine (I have used sake)

1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean chilli paste)

1 teaspoon honey

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

toasted sesame seeds

1 teaspoon Korean chilli powder (or another medium hot chilli powder)

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1 green onion, sliced or the equivalent in chives (this is what I’ve used in the photographed dish)

1 teaspoon sugar

oil

First prepare the squid.

Cut off the squid fins and put them aside.

Cut the squid tube lengthwise in order to obtain one flat sheet.

Check if there are any bones to be removed.

Score it diagonally into a criss-cross pattern (the interior side), then cut the whole sheet horizontally in two. Finally cut the two sheets you have obtained into 2 cm strips.

Do the same with the fins.

Cut the tentacles into bite-sized pieces (I usually cut them in half).

Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl.
Fry the bacon pieces in a pan until crisp. Remove the excess fat (or not, if you don’t mind!).
Without washing the pan fry the squid pieces until they start curling.

 

Put them aside.

Wipe the pan (wash it, if needed), heat 1 teaspoon of oil and stir-fry the carrot and the onion.

Put them aside.

Heat the sugar in the same pan and as soon as it starts browning, add quickly all the ingredients you have put aside together with the sauce and green onion.

Heat everything at high heat, constantly stirring.

Serve.

 

Indian Squid Curry

squid_currypI grew up without the slightest idea of what squid tasted like and when I finally had a chance to eat it, I fell in love with its delicate flavours and addictive texture. Simply grilled, served in a Thai salad or Korean stir-fried dish, squid never disappoints me. This curry was no exception: it was simply sensational and made me very keen on learning more Indian seafood dishes.

As I have already mentioned while writing about Chicken Vindail, I have been totally hooked on Rick Stein’s India. In Search of the Perfect Curry, which is one of the best cookery books I have ever owned (and I include here all the national cuisines). This curry has immediately caught my eye not only because I love squid, but also because it is the last thing I expected to see in an Indian cookery book (and I have never seen squid on the menu of any Indian restaurant in Europe). It turned out so excellent and so perfectly paired with squid, I still find it difficult to imagine how such an extraordinary recipe can come from Karkera Canteen in Fort Mumbai and not from an elegant expensive restaurant.

I have slightly modified certain ingredients’ amounts and used coconut milk instead of grated fresh coconut, so I strongly invite you to check Rick Stein’s wonderful book for the original recipe and also to discover other fabulous Indian recipes.

TIPS: Do not increase the amounts of any spices (except for chilli), at least for the first time, otherwise you might end up with a slightly bitter sauce.

Preparation: about 30 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

Masala paste:

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

5 cloves garlic (peeled)

3 fresh red chillies

1 teaspoon powdered turmeric

100 ml/about 1.4 fl oz coconut milk or cream (or, if you can use fresh or frozen grated coconut, combine 50 g of it with 50 ml water)

400 g/about 14 oz cleaned (thawed if using frozen) squid

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 small onion, sliced

5 garlic cloves, sliced

3 cm ginger, grated into a pulp

2 fresh green chillies, sliced

1/2 Kashmiri chilli powder (or any chilli powder you have)

1 small tomato, chopped (skinned or not)

1 teaspoon salt

3 cm tamarind block piece

1 teaspoon  jaggery or 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar (not the coloured one!)

fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Pour 50 ml hot water it onto the tamarind piece. Leave for fifteen minutes. (In the meantime start preparing the masala paste and the curry). After this time, mix it well and strain leaving the seeds.

Prepare the squid.

Either cut it into rings (the author’s suggestion) or (the way I prefer squid): make a big vertical cut through the body, spreading it flat and score it diagonally in two directions, on the interior side. Cut the squid into long 2 cm thick strips. Then cut the strips and tentacles into bite-sized pieces.

Put aside.

Prepare the masala paste. Grind all the seeds into a powder in a spice or coffee grinder (you can of course use a pestle and mortar). Add the remaining ingredients and mix well in a food processor (baby food processor is very useful for such pastes).

Heat the oil and fry mustard seeds at medium heat until they start popping. Add the onion and stir-fry it for five minutes. Add the garlic, the ginger, the green chilli and fry for one minute. Finally, add the masala paste, the squid, the chilli powder, the tomato, salt and simmer for 3 minutes until the squid is cooked (i.e. no longer translucent). Add the tamarind water and sugar. Heat for 30 seconds.

Serve sprinkled with coriander leaves.

 

 

Thai Squid Salad (Yam pla meuk)

squidsaladpIt has been five months since I bought Thai Food by David Thompson, a renowned Australian chef. As much as I was thrilled to own and read this beautifully edited, huge mine of information, I found it somehow intimidating and wasn’t in a hurry to cook from it. However, as soon as I tested a first recipe, I became literally addicted to this fascinating book and now I’m going through a phase of Thai cooking frenzy. Thanks to David Thompson I finally start slowly realising what genuine Thai flavours taste and smell like. Needless to say, I will never ever buy ready-to-use curry paste again.

In barely two weeks I tested – with a successful outcome – several curries, but I thought I would share with you first this quick squid salad, the most summery of all the dishes I have prepared. Its mixture of hot, tangy and sweet flavours, enriched by an explosion of a typically Thai combination of bold scents, create a fabulous refreshing treat for all the squid and Thai cuisine lovers.

I have slightly adjusted the ingredients’ quantities to my taste, so check Thai Food to read the original recipe and to learn how to cook genuine Thai dishes.

TIPS: The author advises to serve this salad immediately, after blanching the squid and, even though it is still good when served cold, I prefer it slightly warm.

Although I suppose you might successfully substitute squid with some other protein sources, I wouldn’t advise replacing any other ingredient (in my opinion only mint could be skipped here without much harm).

Preparation:

Ingredients (serves two as a starter):

2 big squids, cleaned (about 15 cm long)

3 small (Asian) shallots or two medium Western shallots

1 stalk lemongrass

2 big makrut (also known as kafir) lime leaves

3-4 tablespoons of fresh (torn or roughly chopped) coriander and mint (I have used a 3 : 1 ratio because I preferred coriander’s taste to prevail)

Sauce:

1 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 teaspoon white sugar

2 tablespoons fish sauce

3 bird’s eye chillies

pinch of salt

First prepare the squid.

Make a big vertical cut through the body, spreading it flat and score it diagonally in two directions, on the interior side.

Cut the squid into long 2 cm thick strips. Then cut the strips and tentacles into bite-sized pieces.

Put aside.

Slice very finely the makrut leaves (I always remove the central vein when using them raw).

Chop the shallots.

Remove the outer tough leaves from the lemongrass, the upper 1/3 of the stalk and also the lowest toughest small bit.

Slice the remaining part very finely (I have used a mandolin).

Prepare the sauce in a big bowl: seed and chop finely the chillies and combine with the remaining ingredients.

Taste the sauce and adjust it to your taste (it should be rather salty because the squid is not salted).

Blanch the squid in boiling water until it is opaque.

Drain the squid, throw into the sauce and add the remaining salad ingredients.

Give the salad a stir and serve immediately.

Squid and Celery in Gochujang Sauce

celerysquidpj

This may sound strange for some of you, but I was brought up knowing only celeriac, the humble and ugly cousin of the beautiful celery, which I must have discovered around the age of twenty. Contrary to what some people think, celery is unpopular in several European countries and its strong anise aroma is disturbing or even unbearable for those who discover it as adults. Celery is widely available and consumed in my city and I am used to it simmered in soups, stews and other slowly cooked dishes (such as Ragù alla bolognese) where it ends up acting rather as seasoning than a distinct vegetable. I am however completely lost when it comes to keeping the celery crunchy or raw. On the other hand, I appreciate its fresh aroma, its pleasant crunchiness and its beautiful bright colour, hence my recent decision to start cooking it more often.

A couple of days ago, ready to prepare my beloved Korean Squid with Cabbage and Carrot, I changed my mind at last moment and decided to use celery as the sole vegetable. Surprised by the excellent result of what I consider an extremely unusual combination, I have decided to share my discovery with you, even though I realise that my enthusiasm for celery will seem ridiculous to those for who this vegetable has been a boring staple for years.

My impressions of the squid and celery combination are difficult to describe. The first thing I have noticed was the unusual mixture of textures. The crunchy celery and the slightly chewy, soft squid were slightly surprising, but very pleasant. The celery’s anise aroma hasn’t shadowed the delicate squid taste and gave the whole dish a fresh, awakening touch. The hot and sweet sauce (based on gochujang, the famous Korean hot paste) not only supplied a red hue the whole meal cried for, but most of all bound the two completely different ingredients into a coherent whole. This improvised, quick meal was a very welcome touch of spring in the middle of rainy autumn days and has emboldened me to further experiments with celery. I will be grateful for any ideas or recipes  you would like to share with a beginning fan of celery.

If you don’t like celery, but the mention of squid makes you instantly hungry, I strongly recommend the above mentioned Korean Squid with Cabbage and Carrot, my staple and beloved way to serve squid. I must have prepared this stir-fried delight dozens of times since I discovered it on Hyosun’s blog and still am not tired of it. The sauce I have used with celery was inspired by this Korean recipe.

TIPS: If you keep the celery crunchy, make sure you use the younger stalks without “threads” (the thicker ones were not very palatable and I promised myself to use them next time in longer cooked dishes).

If you don’t have gochujang, add more chili powder mixed with one teaspoon syrup or substitute it with Chinese chili paste (the taste and texture will however not be the same because gochujang is unique).

Before I pass to the recipe I would like to express my compassion with all those affected by the hurricane Sandy. I wish you lots of strength and courage and hope that your lives will soon get back to normal.

Preparation: 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

2 fresh or thawed, cleaned medium squids (mine were about 15 cm long, excluding the tentacles) 

3 – 4 young celery stalks (or higher, thin parts of thick celery stalks)

2 flat tablespoons Korean chili powder

2 tablespoons oil

Sauce: 

1 garlic clove, crushed or grated

2 tablespoons sake

1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean chili paste)

1 tablespoon maple or agave syrup

1 teaspoon sesame oil

(soy sauce or salt to taste)

1 teaspoon (or more) sesame seeds


Cut off the squid fins and put them aside.

Cut the squid tube lengthwise in order to obtain one flat sheet.

Score it diagonally into a criss-cross pattern (the interior side) and then cut it into 2 cm strips.

Do the same with the fins.

Cut the tentacles into bite-sized pieces.

Cut the celery into bite-sized pieces.

Heat the oil in a pan and stir-fry the celery for one minute.

Add the squid and the chili powder and fry them, stirring, for another 2 minutes.

Finally add the sauce ingredients. Season with soy sauce or salt to taste.

Stir-fry until the squid is cooked (about 3-5 minutes). Each strip should be white (whiter than the raw squid), curled and soft, but still slightly chewy.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

 

Korean Stir-Fried Squid with Cabbage and Carrot

koreansquidpThe successful experiment in simmering daikon with squid (click here to see the recipe) reminded me how much I love squid and made me look for new squid dishes. If I hadn’t seen this recipe in The Food and Cooking of Korea by Young Jin Song, I would have never even dreamt of stir-frying white cabbage and even less combining it with squid. Therefore, I treated it as a high-risk experiment, but the result was stunningly good. Actually it was so good that I prepared this dish three times last week!  The cabbage was refreshing, slightly crunchy, while the squid was soft and soaked with my beloved and typically Korean sweet and hot flavours. Since the cabbage, a Winter vegetable par excellence, is treated here in a definitely springtime or summertime way, I found this dish a perfect choice for a between-the-seasons meal.

I have slightly modified the recipe skipping the chilies because the gochujang (Korean chili paste) and chili powder make it already quite hot. If you prefer very hot dishes, add 2 fresh chopped chilies to the first frying step.

TIP: You can prepare this dish in advance and serve it… cold. It is delicious served as a cold salad.

Preparation: 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

2 fresh or thawed, cleaned medium squids (mine were about 15 cm long, excluding the tentacles) 

1 medium white onion, chopped or sliced

2 cabbage leaves, cubed (without the central thick vein)

1 big carrot, julienned 

2 flat tablespoons Korean chili powder

1 garlic clove, crushed or grated

2 tablespoons sake

1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean chili paste)

1 tablespoon maple or agave syrup

1 teaspoon sesame oil

(soy sauce or salt to taste)

1 teaspoon (or more) sesame seeds

2 tablespoons oil

Cut off the squid fins and put them aside.

Cut the squid tube lengthwise in order to obtain one flat sheet.

Score it diagonally into a criss-cross pattern (the interior side) and then cut it into 2 cm strips.

Do the same with the fins.

Cut the tentacles into bite-sized pieces.

Heat the oil in a pan and stir-fry the cabbage, the carrot and the onion for about 2 minutes.

Add the squid and the chili powder and fry them, stirring for another 2 minutes.

Finally add the gochujang, the garlic, the sake, the syrup and the sesame oil. Season with soy sauce or salt to taste. Stir-fry until the squid is cooked (about 3-5 minutes). Each strip should be white (whiter than the raw squid) and curled.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.