I’m always looking for things to do with squid. Since we discovered that we could buy big bags of frozen, pre-cleaned rings and tentacles, it’s been a really handy thing to always have available. It thaws quickly and makes a great protein for those days when I really don’t want to go to the store (which has frequently been the case of late). I usually do something Chinese flavored, like the squid noodle I often make, but a couple of days ago I decided Indian flavors would be fun to try. I found a recipe in West Coast Seafood for a squid curry with coconut milk, which included the comment “this fiery southern Indian squid curry is not for the faint of heart”. Um, what? It has one tablespoon of green chile in it. Unless you have a Minnesotan palate, it is not fiery – in fact, when I ate the leftovers for lunch I added rather a lot of habanero sauce just to get it properly spiced. It was, despite this, pretty tasty. Continue reading
When you buy squid or shrimp in the grocery store around here (even at the fish market), it’s usually bagged frozen stuff that the shop has just thawed that day. This is why we usually buy big bags of it ourselves, so we can thaw it out in small quantities as we want it. We never have any lack of ideas for the shrimp, but somehow the squid wasn’t getting used very quickly. I spent some time hunting out recipes for pre-cut rings and tentacles, especially Chinese, which I thought would be particularly well-suited. I found surprisingly few Chinese recipes for squid, but lots for clams, and it occurred to me that if clams in black bean sauce was such a fixture, why not squid in black bean sauce? Why not on noodles? And a dinner concept was born.
So far I’ve been making it up as I go along each time, but maybe at some point I’ll settle on a particular recipe – or maybe not. I tend to cook by the “spoonful of this, spoonful of that” method in any case. If you have squid in the house, and you can remember to thaw it in time, this is a fantastic, blazingly-fast weeknight dinner – certainly no more than half an hour from start to finish, if you prep while the noodles are cooking. And you could use considerably less chile than I do, if you don’t happen to like having your sinuses cleared by your dinner. But what I really love is the contrast of texture between the squid and the noodles, and the saltiness of the black beans. Everything else is flexible.
The way I’m doing this at the moment (subject to change as I experiment, but this is way tasty): first I cook and drain the noodles – we’re really liking udon with this, but any kind of slithery noodle would work – and toss them in a large bowl with some of the sludge from our homemade hot chile oil and a splash of soy sauce. Then I get all my condiments, squid and vegetables ready to go, as none of this takes any time at all to cook. I heat peanut oil in the wok, and toss in chopped garlic and scallions. As those sizzle, I add a spoonful of chile-garlic sauce and a spoonful of fermented black beans. Then I add the squid and start stir-frying briskly, adding a splash of rice wine. As soon as the squid turns opaque (perhaps a minute), I turn it out into the bowl of noodles. Then I put the wok back over the heat and toss in a bunch of chopped greens, like bok choi or beet greens, and stirfry with a bit of soy sauce until wilted, then scrape those into the noodles as well. Serve hot. Slurp.
We discovered that we can get big bags of frozen pre-cleaned squid rings and tentacles at the local fish market, and are preparing to embark on some serious experimentation with it. I know how to clean a squid in theory, but I’d really rather not, so this stuff is great. The one thing I’ve cooked with it so far, based on a recipe in James Peterson’s Fish & Shellfish, was incredibly simple and very, very successful: I sauteed chopped garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil, added the squid and sauteed for 1 minute, then added chopped parsley and cooked another 30 seconds or so, then scraped it all out onto a pile of Israeli couscous with some roasted asparagus on the side. The ultimate fast dinner, and tasty too.
Any suggestions for our next foray into squid cookery?
We had a class at Gretchens with chef Peter Belknap the other night, the theme of the evening being “French Riviera.” Of course, there was cream sauce involved, and plenty of cheese and breadcrumbs as well. But one dish that I thought was particularly fun was a salad of white beans, pasta and squid with a mustardy dressing. I love squid, but I never cook it at home (my few attempts, many years ago, were rather rubbery). This was a nice presentation, and the flavors and textures worked well together. I may have to give cooking squid another try.
I got to prep the squid – apparently having small fingers is an asset in this business. This was frozen, cleaned squid without the tentacles, very easy to work with.