I 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…
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
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
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).
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.