The Big Gay Al's Food Adventures
I love squid. Adore it. Generally if it appears on a menu in a restaurant then I order it. It’s a compulsion, similar to how I imagine being a crack addict is.
Okay, so maybe that last sentence is a slight exaggeration, but I really do love it. I can’t explain it. It is often bland, the Brits generally don’t know what to do with it other than batter it, deep fry it and call it Calamari, pretending it’s anything other than squid. It is often badly prepared or cooked and therefore resembles pasty white elastic bands.
However, cooked well, it can be tender, easy to eat, fresh tasting, and a perfect carrier for sweet and spicy flavour combinations. For example, one of my favourite chain restaurants, Busaba Eathai, have an incredible side dish of Thai Calamari cooked with bold ginger and peppercorn flavours. There’s a hint of chilli and the sweetness of the squid comes through. This one dish alone is enough to secure my ongoing custom.
Many pubs and restaurants offer calamari rings, battered and deep fried and served with a wedge of lemon. These are generally bought in frozen, and while tasty enough, have usually been processed to tenderise the squid rings, often removing the flavour of the squid anyway. But hey, salt and lemon juice on crispy batter still tastes great right? Just never quite as nice as that time you had it in that little tapas bar in Spain.
So despite my passion for squid, it is something I rarely cook myself. My local supermarkets don’t stock it so it usually involves a trip further afield. Last week however I found a frozen bag of cleaned squid in the freezer of a supermarket and so obviously I snatched a pack of it and brought it home where it has been sitting awaiting inspiration and opportunity to strike.
The night before last, I could wait no longer. I needed a squid fix and knowing that it was in the freezer was killing me! Being a bit last minute I had to defrost it under running water – not ideal as you wash away a lot of the flavour. Really you want to defrost it overnight in the fridge, but I couldn’t wait! As these were cleaned baby squid, I didn’t really need to do any more than slice them, dredge them lightly in a mix of corn flour GENEROUSLY seasoned with salt and ground black pepper, and then pan fry with a spray of oil in a non stick pan. A little chopped onion and chilli fried first, then the squid added for 2 minutes only.
The resulting salt and pepper squid was a very tasty morsel indeed – a perfect little appetiser or side dish. You could deep fry it of course like the Chinese takeaway does, but it is just as delicious pan fried and a lot less calories. I’d rather save the calories for one of my other obsessions…. CAKE!!
lead image courtesy of Biology Corner