Not long ago, I posted about a lovely appetizer I had in an Indian restaurant called ‘Calamari Manko’, and I mentioned I wanted to try and reproduce it at home. I also said that I would be unable to employ the fresh curry leaf used in the original, but I mused that Thai Basil might work. Unfortunately no fresh Basil has been available around these parts of late but, as per another post, I thought that a little Thai Chili Paste with Holy Basil might work nicely. I gave it a try and the result was pretty darned decent …
I used about three-quarters of a cup of rings sliced from the bodies of small squid. I dusted these with flour and then quickly fried them in hot oil for no more than about 45 seconds or so.
The appetizer I had in the restaurant used toasted coconut in their recipe, but, although there were fresh coconuts in my market, I decided to use slivered almonds instead. Here, I toasted about two tablespoons or so in a dry pan until they just started to show a bit of browning here and there.
The restaurant cooked the main ingredient in a tomato chutney flavored with mustard seed, dried chili (lightly toasted), and, I am sure, a little sugar. I used the mustard seed (one teaspoon) and dried chili (just a few), but I also included a half teaspoon of cumin. I sautéed these in hot oil just until the chili was darkened slightly. This is a technique you often encounter in Sichuan cookery but it was adopted for the dish I had in the Indian recipe and it added a nice smoky flavor to the finished dish.
Next, I added about a quarter cup of minced onion and let these soften and colour slightly.
Tomato (one small one chopped) came next. I also added a generous splash of water, and a pinch of sugar, and let the tomato collapse and cook down to make a chutney like sauce.
Finally, I added in the toasted almonds, the squid, and about two tablespoons of the Thai Chili Paste with Holy Basil and cooked until all was heated through. I think I might like to play around with this recipe a little, and see how it might be tweaked, but for a first shot … this turned out to be a very nice lunch…