January 20, 2011
The fish and meat aisle is usually my first port of call, particularly if I am shopping with my granny trolley. I prefer that the heavier parcels go in first.
Once the protein aspect of the meal has been decided on, I can then start looking for the other ingredients, particularly the vegetables and fruit.
Some nice white squid hoods looked appealing at the fishmonger's. I don't buy calamari or squid often enough, yet when I do we usually enjoy it immensely. Baby calamari need barely touch the pan and they're cooked. Older, larger ones usually require a little more cooking so they are not tough and leathery. The ones I bought were a pretty good size and thickness and required about 15 minutes' cooking to reach a tender stage.
While it's possible to buy the squid hood scored "pineapple" fashion then cut into smaller pieces, I prefer to process my own. You need a nice sharp knife for this. Do the scoring diamond fashion for a pretty effect that reveals itself as the calamari pieces heat up and curl into rolls.
See if you can find some Vietnamese mint. I grow my own and its slight pepperiness makes a great addition to the coriander in the salad.
2 medium squid hoods (about 250g each)
Using a sharp knife, open out the squid tubes and score the insides diagonally in crisscross fashion, the score lines about .5cm apart. As the squid cooks, it will curl up and the scoring makes an attractive pattern that also helps hold the sauce. If these are larger squid hoods, cut the scored squid into smaller pieces.
Put the water, fish sauce, lemon juice and chilli paste or chopped chillies in a large saucepan. Add the squid and simmer until tender - anything from 5 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool in the cooking liquid, removing 3 tablespoons of the liquid to use in the dressing.
Meanwhile make the dressing and the salad.
For the salad slice a medium cos lettuce and place in a large bowl. Add the radishes, cucumber, carrot, onion and the chopped fresh herbs. Toss together and place on a serving dish.
For the dressing place the tomato sauce, fish sauce, soy and oyster sauce, sugar, lime juice and 3 tablespoons of the cooking liquid in a jug, mix well and add the garlic.
When the calamari is at room temperature, drain it then spoon onto the salad. Remove the garlic from the dressing then whisk the dressing and pour over the salad. Serve.
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