A Spicy Squid Salad Experience

Squid. Yum.

Spicy Squid Salad. Yum.

Marinated with lots of Asian flavors like shiitake mushrooms, sesame, chili, lime and ginger. Double, triple, quadruple yum.

Because with interesting ingredients like these you can’t really go too wrong; add an unusual wine pairing like Txomin Etxaniz Txakoli de Getaria from the Basque region of Spain and you’ve really got something going on.

But still I’ll admit when I say squid, some people crinkle their noses and say “no thank you”. If I called it calamari (and fried it) I’d probably win over a few of the nose crinklers. But calamari is a whole other way to go when it comes to squid.

My version today is more reminiscent of something you might find it Vietnam. There, squid salads of all sorts are quite common. They are often served as light snacks between meals, but in my world they make a great light lunch too.

Wine Pairing from Sippity Sup Txomin Etxaniz TxakoliNow if you are squid sqeemish, I’m not here to convert you. But I do want you to consider that there are foods that seem odd to some, yet are perfectly palatable to others. A lot of these differences are cultural. For me, trying new foods is a way of broadening my perspective. Call it kitchen chair travel if you like, but I believe that by tasting foods that seem “foreign”  to our palates, we gain valuable insight on how other people live. Sorta like chewing a mile in another man’s teeth! Now with all that’s going on in this world. Isn’t that a good thing?

So when I decided I wanted to make an Asian inspired squid salad. I needed a role model. And though (sadly) I my kitchen chair has never actually delivered me to Vietnam, I have eaten plenty of Vietnamese food.

I am not saying it’s the same thing, but I live in a major metropolitan area. Food from far away lands can be found on nearly every corner of Hollywood. I get inspired, illuminated and challenged by the foods I experience everyday. So it’s not too hard to find a culinary role model for whatever strikes my fancy.

I am sure this has happened to you. You are out somewhere, you sample something particularly delicious and the memory of it lingers on your tongue.

I often try to recreate these exeriences. Even if I have no actual experience! This spicy squid salad with Asian flavors is just such an example. My brother chose to pair this recipe with a little known Spanish white wine. Cross cultural perfection…

I hope you like it, and want to recreate it yourself. Oh, and if your kitchen chair brings you into my neck of the woods I hope you’ll stop by and break some particularly delicious Los Angeles bread with me. It may be different than the bread you are used to. And that’s the whole point.

Spicy Squid Salad with Shiitake, Sesame & Lime serves 4 CLICK here for a printable recipe

  • 1 lb squid
  • 4 T sesame oil
  • 1 T chili oil
  • 1 thai bird chile, or more to taste, cut into thin rounds
  • 2 T asian fish sauce
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 1 1⁄2 oz dried shitake or wood ear mushrooms (you could also use dried seaweed)
  • 4 oz canned, sliced bamboo shoots
  • 1 2‑inch piece of ginger thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 2 t lime zest, plus more for garnish

spicy squid saladThoroughly clean the squid by removing the beak, all cartilage, and any remaining skin-like membranes. Most squid is sold pre-cleaned but it’s best to check. Remove the body from the tentacle pieces but keep them whole. Set aside.

Prepare an ice bath. Bring a medium-sized pan of water to a boil. Add the squid to the boiling water and turn off the heat. Cook about 30 seconds (no more than 1 minute depending on size) stirring the whole time to assure even cooking. The moment the squid turns opaque strain and plunge it into ice bath to stop cooking.

In a medium bowl whisk together, sesame oil, chili, oil, thai bird chilis, Asian fish sauce, and rice vinegar. Add the reserved squid to the bowl, tossing to coat. Let the mixture marinate in the refrigerator at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Meanwhile, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Pour the water over the dried shiitake mushrooms. Let them soften about 1 hour, then drain and cut them crosswise into very thin strips, about 1/8‑inch wide. Set aside. Cut the bamboo shoots into equally thin strips. Set aside. Peel and slice the ginger into 1/8‑inch rounds, then cut them crosswise into very thin strips. Set aside.

About 1/2 hour before serving drain the squid of it’s marinade and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Add the reserved shiitake, bamboo shoots, and ginger to the bowl with the marinated squid. Toss with sesame seeds, salt and lime zest.

Serve the salad on a platter with additional lime zest as garnish.

NOTE: You may replace the shiitake mushrooms with sliced seaweed.


Greg Henry