Tag: Squid

Notable Nosh: Calamari Manko

Calamari Manko

On the last evening of a recent trip to Ottawa, I went on an ‘appetizer tour’ and stopped for drinks and one or two appetizers at a series of restaurants. One such stop was at the ‘Curry Kebab House’ which sits in the space in Byward Market once occupied by another Indian restaurant called ‘Haveli’. I will have to go back there sometime and do a proper review of the place after sampling a few more of their dishes, but the one I tried there on this occasion was terrific …

The dish was called Calamari ‘Manko’ …. I have no idea of the origin of the name ‘Manko’ and a search only yielded the fact that it is a very rude Japanese slang term (I’ll let you Google it yourselves). The menu described the dish as being squid ‘tossed with curry leaves and toasted coconut [and] served with a tomato chutney’. In fact, the ingredients were actually served ‘in’, rather than ‘with’ the chutney, which, in addition to the tomato, included mustard seed and coriander leaf. Toasted dried chilies were almost added to the mix, lending an almost ‘Sichuanesque’ effect to the overall taste, which was unusual, but really nicely done. The squid was cooked just perfectly, being tender, but still a bit chewy, and there was a sweetness that came in part from the toasted coconut, but, probably, also from the addition of a bit of sugar.

The curry leaves really made a difference here. I have cooked with these at home, but this was the first time I have had them served to me in a restaurant dish. The woody, slightly herby taste, really added a nice note. I want to try making this at home, sometime… Unfortunately, curry leaves are very hard to come by for me, but I think that a peppery Thai-Basil might make a very decent substitute…

Notable Nosh: Squid Balls

Squid Balls 1

Well, I first have to a bit of an apology for this post, folks … I ordered three of the above pictured ‘balls’ at Hokkaido Sushi in Ottawa a while back and I scarfed down two before remembering to take a photograph. It is also a little difficult to get any sense of the size of these balls (Yes, yes… I get you didn’t know that squid have balls), but I can tell you that each of these little delicacies is about the size of a quail egg…

Anyway, I almost didn’t bother with doing a post, given my photographic lapse, but the fact is, these were really terrific and worth a mention. Each little sphere was coated in a very thin batter (or maybe just dusted with a starch of some sort), but it was the ‘innards’ that really shone.

The ‘filling’ (as it were) was definitely squid… Indeed, the flavor was so much more pronounced even than fresh, deep-fried squid rings. What made the dish (and possibly contributed to the strength of the flavor) was the texture. I don’t know exactly what they did here, but it seemed very much as they processed (‘whipped’ even) squid flesh to a fine paste and then (possibly) added a little cornstarch… The mouth-feel of biting into each ball was springy, and very toothsome indeed. I wish I could explain it better, and, even more, I hope I can figure out how they made this … I will be playing around in my own kitchen and will, of course, report any developments …

Experiment: Tea-Fried Squid

Tea-Fried Squid 1

Somewhere, in my Chinese cookery book collection, I have a recipe for Shrimp that are prepared by poaching in green tea (complete with reconstituted tea leave shreds). As yet, I haven’t tried it but, not long ago, I saw a picture of squid that had been fried after dusting with greenish fragments that weren’t identified. It was clearly an Asian preparation (I forget where I saw the picture), and I suspected the green ‘bits’ weren’t any common herb as might be used in the west. I wondered if, perhaps, it might be powdered tea. Anyway, the idea sounded interesting and so I put together the little appetizer you see pictured above. The idea is still rather a ‘work in progress’, but the first attempt was interesting enough that you might like to try something along the same lines yourselves… Continue reading “Experiment: Tea-Fried Squid”

Squid ‘Blossoms’

Squid Flowers 1

On a few occasions, I have ordered squid dishes in restaurants that consisted of the tentacles only. Mostly, these are the large type, and often come battered, as separate pieces, before being deep-fried. When I buy very tiny squid (which have been the only sort available up in these parts of late), I like to keep the whole tentacle ‘assembly’ in one piece and deep fry them without batter. The effect, once the central ring with the attached tentacles hits the oil, is to make them curl into shapes that remind me a little of flower blossoms.

Anyway, if you are cleaning tiny squid, or else have purchased them with the whole tentacle section packed separately, you can fry them up in about thirty seconds or so (with or without a light dusting of cornstarch) and serve them piping hot as a lovely little appetizer. You can provide a dip of your choice, if you like, but they are best with nothing more than a quick squeeze of lemon juice.

Steamed Pork Patty with Dried Squid

Steamed Pork with Dried Squid 1

When I was a law student, I shared an apartment with two other students, one of whom had recently moved to Canada from Hong Kong. Like many Chinese immigrants, he adopted a Western name for himself but his choice, which was Gordon, was rather a poor one as he couldn’t pronounce it. Accordingly, my other room-mate and I re-dubbed him ‘G’…

G. was not a particularly accomplished cook but he had learned a few basic dishes from his mother and, one of these, which he cooked on a regular basis, is the one I am preparing for you today. This preparation represents my earliest introduction to dried squid as a culinary ingredient and I have loved it ever since…  Continue reading “Steamed Pork Patty with Dried Squid”

Banchan: Spicy Dried Squid

Banchan- Spicy Dried Squid 1

This Korean Banchan, or small-plate/side dish, uses dried squid and chili paste. There are many variations and quite a lot use the dried squid that is purchased pre-cut into fine shreds. This one, however, starts with a whole dried squid and the result is not just spicy and delicious but good and chewy as well…  Continue reading “Banchan: Spicy Dried Squid”

Foodstuff: Dried Squid

Dried Squid 1

Dried Squid are used quite commonly as a cooking ingredient in the cuisines of China, Korea and the Philippines and are very popular, in various forms, as a snack food, particularly in Japan. The advantages of drying the product are not only for lengthy storage in the absence of refrigeration but, as with most dried foods, the flavor of the fresh article is considerably concentrated and enhanced.

Whole squid, untreated other than by the drying process, can be purchased in a variety of sizes, from over a foot long, to just a few inches or so in length and, once prepared for use, can be utilized in much the same was as fresh squid, albeit with some change in flavor and texture. Generally, good quality dried squid will still have quite a sweetish taste but as it ages it can be a little bitter sometimes so try and choose a product that has a nice, light color and avoid any that is very dark brown or is devoid of aroma… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Dried Squid”

Salt and Pepper Squid

Salt Pepper Squid 1

When I am at the type of western restaurant that serves deep-fried calamari rings as an appetizer I usually select them because, in such places (with the exception of good Italian restaurants), the rest of the appetizer menu is usually not that interesting. I like deep-fried Calamari most of the time but I also prefer to eat heavily battered deep-fried foods only sparingly, if only as a matter of personal taste rather than for health reasons.

Since I had some frozen Calamari Rings unused after a previous meal, I decided to use them as a deep-fried appetizer, but, rather than using the typical sort of thick batter, I thought I would use a much lighter Asian frying technique along with a seasoning that is especially popular with shrimp… Continue reading “Salt and Pepper Squid”

Squid Pakora

Pakoras are an Indian snack consisting of various vegetables, and sometimes meats, mixed with a batter (most commonly made with chick-pea flour) and then deep fried. I have never before seen squid being used in any of my Indian recipe books (at least not for pakoras) and I am departing from tradition by using a combination of wheat and rice flour for this experiment. My creation is actually quite similar to Korean preparations but the spice usage is definitely Indian in spirit and so I am giving them the Indian name… Continue reading “Squid Pakora”