You might be thinking, two squid posts in a row, what gives? I know, I know, but besides the squid, these two dishes could not be more dissimilar.  The former, a slow braised Italian-influenced squid dish in a tomato and wine reduction, the latter, a quick wok-fired preparation with Asian flavors. I enjoyed them equally. The slow braised Italian version is a hearty, comforting fall-winter dish, and the latter, a light spring-summer preparation with lots of fresh greens.

I’ve made this quick wok-fired squid dish for friends and family on several occasions.  I’ve made it with squid, with shrimp, and even a combination of the two.  It’s always a big hit.  A dish that your guests will think you spent a long time preparing, but in actuality only takes a few minutes to through together.


What You Need to Know About Cooking Squid?
When it comes to cooking squid, there are two ways to approach it: (1) a very short time — two minutes — over high heat or (2) a long time — 45 minutes to several hours to tenderize the meat. Anything in between has the edibility of rubber bands.

I find that when I buy uncleaned (aka ‘dirty’) squid, they don’t give off nearly as much water.

Fish sauce, have you tried it?
Love the addition of fish sauce to this dish. It adds a salty and savory (umami) note.  It’s that little extra secret ingredient (just like anchovies in a red tomato sauce).

Good fish sauce is made from a mixture of fish (typically anchovies) and salt, and has been allowed to ferment from one year to 18 months. And, at $1 a bottle at my local Asian market, it is a bargain considering the depth of flavor it brings to a dish. Fish sauce is versatile, think kimchi, fish sauce vinaigrette, Asian-inspired soups/stews…

I did a little research, and just like everything else, the quality of fish sauce varies. I read that Tra Chang and Golden Boy are very good quality (but was not able to find either), so went with my third choice, Tiparos (read that Squid brand is pretty good too). You want to avoid fish sauce that has been colored with sugar, caramel, MSG, by-products from the production of MSG, saccharin, and other natural or artificial flavorings and coloring.

Magic Greens…
Greens are magical for several reasons. One, they have magical health benefits (loaded with nutrients), and two, because no matter how much you start out with, they always seem to cook down to nothing.  Magical, disappearing greens. I started with a pound of greens, which looked like quite a lot before they were cooked. Ended up adding another half pound. Definitely more than your daily allowance of green vegetables.

Wok-Fired Squid with Greens

Adapted from Nigel Slater’s Tender

This dish doesn’t get much easier to assemble. It requires less than 10 minutes of actual cooking time and about 10 minutes to prep the ingredients (even fewer if you buy your squid already cleaned).

2 tablespoon of (olive or other cooking) oil, divided
1 pound squid (bodies and tentacles), cleaned and sliced into ½ inch rings
1 1/2 pound greens (such as baby bok choy), cleaned and chopped
2 serrano chiles, finely diced
1 inch piece of ginger, grated (~ 1 teaspoon)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons (coconut) sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 small bunch basil, ~1 ounce, roughly chopped
Serve over rice (optional)

Heat a wok over medium-high heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of oil. When smoking hot, sauté the greens until wilted ~ 3 1/2 to 4 minutes.  Place in a bowl and set aside.

Add a little more oil to the wok, add the chopped serrano chiles, garlic, and ginger and saute for another 30 seconds.  Add the squid and cook another 2 minutes.

Mix the fish sauce, sugar, and lime together.  Add the fish sauce mixture and the reserved cooked greens, toss in the basil leaves and sauté until the basil is wilted.  Remove from the heat and serve (over rice).

Note: You can use any number of greens, such as spinach, swiss chard, snow peas, and/or tatsoi

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I admired your submission on Food 52 as well! Your photography is beautiful!


I admired your submission on Food 52 as well! Your photography is beautiful!

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