Spicy stir-fried squid, Chinese takeout style

Spicy stir-fried squid

As the temperatures dramatically sunk in the North of France, I got a sudden craving for spicy foods, and especially for squid swamped in a hot red sauce. It was a dish I had never tasted before, and I do not eat squid often anyway, but I knew it would be the comforting dish I needed to face the cold. It ended up with an « imperial-style squid » ordered at the Chinese takeout nearby home, but I liked this dish so much that I decided to make it at home some days later.

After a quick research, I found one of the recipes on the blog « Korean Bapsang » the most resembling, so I choose to follow by and large its way of proceeding, while making some changes. I tried to give it a more Chinese character, or at least to make it more similar to the dish I had tried out, especially by adding Shaoxing rice wine (one of the must-haves if you want to get into Chinese cookery) and leaving out the major part of vegetables (there were only onions in the original recipe). I also adjusted the heat to what I was able to endure : the lady on the blog admittedly says it’s not fiery hot, but as for me, suffering from my weak Western tastebuds, it actually was ! So, feel free to modulate the amount of chili at your convenience.

Anyway, apart from the preparation of the squid which requires a bit of technique, it is an easy dish that can be ready is less than 30 minutes.

Ingredients (serves 2 with a side dish) :

  • 1 squid, about 400g
  • half a medium carrot (optional)
  • half a medium onion
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine

Seasoning sauce :

  • 1 tbsp Chinese chili paste (or substitute gochujang)
  • 1 red chili pepper
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 1 tsp minced ginger (about 2 thin slices)
  • 4-5 tbsp water (about 75 ml)
  • 1 tsp corn- or potato starch, diluted with 1 tsp water
  • pinch of ground black pepper

Method :

Rinse thoroughly the squid, then prepare it ; look at the drawing and instructions below if you are not familiar with this process.

How to prepare squid

That is, more precisely :

– Pull carefully the head apart with a twisting motion to remove the innards from the body, then cut the tentacles below the eyes and remove the tough beak remaining in the center of the tentacles ; reserve these ones and the body and discard everything else.

– After having discarded the transparent, feather-shaped cartilage from inside the body, rinse this again, removing any remaining dirt.

– Cut the fins close to the body and remove the tough part of them.

– Remove the skin, scrubbing gently the body with your knife if necessary to peel it off ; clean well all parts and pat dry with paper towel.

– Slit the body open, flatten it well, then score the inner face in a fine (no more than 2-3mm between each line) criss-cross pattern.

– Cut the flesh into bite-sized pieces, by making either diamonds, either rectangles (to do so, cut the body horizontally into 2.5 inch / 5 cm-wide strips, then vertically into 2 inch- /4 cm-long sections). For a particularly well executed « pineapple cut » squid, see this recipe on the blog « Taste Hong Kong ».

– Combine all ingredients for the sauce, mix in the squid pieces and set aside for 10-15 minutes to have the squid marinated.

Meanwhile, peel the onion and roughly chop it or slice it, according to your preference.

Peel the carrot, cut it into 2.5 inch- /5 cm- long thin strips and julienne them.

Rinse the chili pepper and slice it diagonally, into about 0.5 inch- / 1 cm- wide slices. Discard as many seeds as possible if you don’t want the dish to be too spicy.

Heat the oil in a pan or wok over medium to high heat. Stir-fry onion, carrot and chili pepper until they start to soften (2-3 minutes), but being careful not to brown them.

Pour in the Shaoxing rice wine by the sides of the pan or wok and cook, stirring constantly, until is is completely soaked up by the vegetables.

Give the marinated squid a stir before adding it to the pan, with the whole marinade. Stir-fry until the squid pieces curl up and turn opaque and the sauce starts to thicken. It takes 2 to 4 minutes according to the size of the squid pieces.

Stir well to have the vegetables evenly distributed and serve immediately, ideally with rice.

Spicy stir-fried squid

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