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Chinese Recipes
Squid, Calamari or Yao Yue
Squid is very common in Canton and features often in Cantonese cuisine. Whether bought from a restaurant or cooked at home, it is nutritious and tasty. Cook small squid for 20 seconds or no more than 1 minute. Casserole for more than 1 hour until tender.
Buyer's Tip

Purchase squid from the local wetmarket early in the morning to ensure the best quality. Most often these are kept in a large polystyrene box which acts as a cheap chiller keeping them cold.

Small ones tend to be preferred for general cooking, and are more succulent. The vendor will usually prepare these for you, simply gutting them and removing the innards and ink sac.

Squid are also available frozen from supermarkets, or dried.
Image: Baby squid prepared for cooking - Click to Enlarge

Gut the squid if not already done and wash them thoroughly. Place in a bowl as pictured above and leave for an hour. This ensures they are completely defrosted and also lets them breath. You can add a tablespoonful of soy sauce as a marinade, but this is unnecessary.

.Recipe 1 - Simple Baby Squid

Cut off the tentacles so that each is separate, and then cut the body into 1 inch wide squares. You can cut to make a diamond patter which helps them curl and cook. Add a little oil to the wok and add some finely diced ginger strips and a clove or two of garlic. Stir fry on a high heat for 1 minute before reducing the heat and adding the squid. Add a few splashes of soy sauce if not marinated in it, and continue to stir the dish. Cover and cook for a further minute. Tip contents of wok into a serving bowl and present to table.
Image: Cooked Baby Squid in Soy Sauce - Click to Enlarge


1. Add one teaspoon of chicken bouillon to the wok just after you add the squid. Stir well and add a little water. Keep stirring until a nice gravy forms, when the dish is ready for serving.

2. Use fish sauce instead of, or as well as soy sauce. I find this a little too fishy, but it does work well in moderation.

3. Squid and Broccoli Surprise

As above only this time we are going to add and equal quantity (As for the squid) of prepared broccoli florets to the wok containing the garlic and ginger. This version can have more garlic than above, and after flash-frying, add one rice bowl of water. Return to the boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and leave for 7 minutes. Check occasionally to ensure there is always a little water in the wok, but do not drown it!

We are aiming to have a little residue juice left at the end of cooking, which is in 3 to 5 minutes time.

Add the squid and stir well. This time you do not need to add soy sauce, fish sauce, or anything else. Cover and leave to cook for no more than one minute, stirring occasionally. Many Chinese chef's like to leave the squid body intact for this presentation, and lightly dice the outer surface with a sharp knife to form a diamond pattern. Only squid is ever presented in this manner.

The dish should now be ready for serving, so empty out the squid and broccoli, and cover with a little juice which contains the garlic and ginger. Serve and eat.

Recipe 2 - Barbequed Squid

I have tried many versions of BBQ's squid, many of which were rubbery, tough, or tasteless. Here is how to make this dish a succulent and unusual winner!

For this you need to buy the tentacles of large squid only, and these can be 6 or more inches long. Prepare them by washing under a tap and set aside to drain. My wife sometimes dusts these with a little rock salt, which helps retain moisture; however, this is optional and better done once you are familiar with the recipe and cooking style.

Method 1

Make a thin batter by mixing flour and water in a ratio of 2 parts flour to 3 parts water. Thin if too thick, we want this quite runny.

Dip the squid in the simple batter mix and allow to drain so much of the batter drips off. Roll in a combination of breadcrumbs and chilli powder and place in a wok containing a couple of tablespoons of high temperature oil preheated to very hot. Stir fry until the batter turns the yellow side of golden and serve. Cooking time should be about 1 minute, and no longer than 2 minutes - otherwise you will have a lot of chewy squid.

Method 2

Very similar to above, but this time we will not make a batter mix. Instead we are simply going to beat an egg with a hint of salt and pepper. Then dip the squid into the egg and allow to drain until it stops dripping. Sprinkle with flour and chilli powder mixture and flash-fry in hot oil for less than 2 minutes, as above.

In both these recipes the squid is covered by a thin coating (Batter or egg), so retains moisture, which in turn keeps them tender for eating.

Recipe 3 - Dried Squid

This is the simplest thing imaginable. Simply take one or two large dried squid and toast for up to 1 minute per side. Serve whole to table accompanied by a small sidedish of soy sauce into which you have added 1 inch of Wasabi from a pre-prepared tube (Sold in any supermarket). Be careful - Wasabi is very hot!

Related Recipes:

Squid with Chilli Peppers and or Blackbean Sauce
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