Monday, 26 May 2008

Squid - The Perfect Budget Food

One of my earliest memories of being on holiday was with my parents when we went to Phuket. There was a beach cafe we stumbled upon where you could sit at the bar on tall stools actually on the beach. My parents befriended the lady behind the bar, and she served us a massive great platter of calamari, completely fresh. It was gorgeous, and it's one of those times that I wish I were just a little bit older so my memory would be clearer.

Squid is the ultimate budget food, perfect for me as I seem to be perpetually budgeting. I buy 1kg bags of frozen cleaned and prepared squid tubes and tentacles for about £2.50 in Chinatown. It's also diverse - a really quick cooking at a high heat as well as a long, slow braise will result in sweet and tender meat. So far I haven't as yet stewed it, but that is next on the list.

So here's a recipe for Squid in Black Bean Sauce.

For One

200gr squid and tentacles, washed
1" ginger, chopped finely
1 fat clove of garlic, minced
1 red chilli, sliced
1 tbsp black beans, or 1 tbsp black bean sauce
1 tbsp rice wine
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp black or balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 spring onions, sliced
1/2 tbsp cornflour, slaked
1 orange or green pepper, chopped roughly

Score the insides of the squid carefully, and then chop into chunks. Combine the black beans, rice wine, soy sauce, sugar and vinegar in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Heat up some oil and fry the ginger, garlic and chilli until fragrant but not burnt. Add the pepper and fry till softened. Next, add the squid, fry for a minute, then add the black bean sauce mixture, the cornflour, and cook until thickened. Garnish with spring onion and serve with rice.

The dish has a great texture, something I seem to be obsessed with recently - slightly crunchy peppers contrasts well with soft and tender squid. Black beans are very versatile and it's easy to knock up a sauce with it using ingredients that last forever. Pick some up if you see them.


Anonymous said...

Why do I not know of frozen bags of cleaned squid?! Must get some!

Ros said...

Squid is one of my favourite budget foods too. I only ever bought them whole once and I really hated preparing them so I'm very glad for the frozen cleaned tubes.

I've never tried making my own black bean sauce before, mostly because I only became aware of where to buy them recently, but squid with black beans is one of my favourite things to get in Chinese restaurants.