Have you ever cooked something and had people look at you oddly because of it? I never get tired of seeing people’s reactions when I make something unusual *grin* (though, yeah, getting a little sick of people’s horror over my use of spam as an ingredient. It’s salty pork product. Just like bacon. Or ham. I wouldn’t prefer it on a sandwich, but diced up in mac & cheese or fried rice, it’s amazing!)
One of my favorite dishes to cook is one that never fails to get that reaction from someone, but it is insanely easy to cook, the ingredients can mostly be found at ordinary everyday stores — though you may have to hit an Asian market, depending on how well-stocked the “ethnic foods” aisle is at your local grocery store. Publix made me grouchy when they didn’t have the best ingredient in the dish — and ohhhh is it good. I mean incredible. As in my husband’s eyes light up when he sees the ingredients out on the counter as I prepare to cook.
Friends, I give you:
No, no, no, stop making the icky face! This is not your typical deep-fried, greasy, like-chewing-on-rubber-bands calamari. If you are frightened by squid, you shouldn’t be. It can be perfectly wonderful both to cook and to eat.
Okay, in all fairness, prior to jumping in to make this recipe (which I found on a food blog! Just like you are finding it today! So now you have to make it. It’s like fate), I was scared of cooking this stuff as well. I would eat it when I was at an Italian restaurant, maybe even on the occasional sashimi boat, but to prepare squid at home seemed… intimidating (sort of like phyllo dough is to me now, still to this day. Not difficult, just intimidating). But when I read a recipe and start to drool at the thought? And then I see that it will take me 10 minutes, tops? It had to be attempted, and I’m oh so glad it was.
- – about 1 lb of squid (the fish market should have it already cleaned for you when you buy it)
- – fresh ginger (depends on how gingery you like it; I usually use a piece about 2″ long)
- – red chili peppers (again, this quantity depends on your preferred level of spice. I use 2, with the ribs and most of the seeds removed, and it’s probably “medium” on the spice levels)
- – fish sauce
- – sweet chili sauce (I use about half a jar — somewhere around 7 tbsp)
- – 1 lime
- – sesame oil (about 6 tbsp, though you could certainly use less if you are horrified at the thought of that much oil!)
First step, of course, is to put up some rice to cook. We’ve been using brown basmati of late, which was delicious with it, but any rice will do! So get the rice cooker cranking because you are not going to want to waste any of this sauce. TRUST ME!
Next, cut the squid into pieces, making sure to clean out any bits of cartilage that the fish monger may have missed. I generally split the tentacles down the middle and cut the body into rings about 1/2 inch wide. Dice the ginger and chili peppers.
In a deep pan or wok, heat the oil on medium. Add ginger and lightly fry for a few minutes, stopping before it turns brown. Turn the heat up and add the squid, stirring it around for a minute and then removing the pan from the heat. Add the peppers, a squirt of fish sauce, the chili sauce, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Toss it all together until hot (no longer! Once the squid gets hot, it can go to overcooked very quickly), and you’re done!
Serve over rice. I also like to add some nice crusty bread to sop up any sauce that the rice doesn’t get, but I’m also a carb addict!
Trust me when I tell you that if you are a fan of Asian cuisine, if you like spice (though you can leave out the peppers altogether and it won’t be very spicy at all), or if you have taste buds in your mouth, you will love this. Fast, easy, and delicious.
I… er… have a confession to make. Every time I make this, my husband and I demolish the entire lb of squid — complete with rice and bread to accompany — between the two of us. The kids don’t eat it (though my eldest wants to try it next time, despite the spice level). It’s a good bit of food. And yet… there are never leftovers. It’s just that good.
Please let me know what you’ve cooked that has people shocked! I’m always looking for delicious ideas, and I’m not put off by unusual….