Although squid is often cut into rings, battered and deep-fried to make calamari, it is also wonderful barbequed whole, and in fact that is how it is usually cooked in many places. The reason for this is barbequing introduces an aromatic smokiness to the seafood which complements its natural bring, delicate and slightly sweet taste really well. You can either just use the squid bodies (or squid ‘tubes’ as they are known) or you can add tentacles too. You will often find each tentacle cluster has one really long tentacle and you should discard this one. You can thread the squid on to skewers if you wish or else just pop them directly on to the grill grate. They are usually too big to slip through anyway.
Squid is usually sold cleaned, so instead of having to remove the eyes and organs you can simply rinse the squid and then get on with cooking it. That is certainly the simplest way although by all means do it yourself if you have the time and are not squeamish about preparing a freshly caught squid. Make sure you pat the squid dry with paper towels before you cook it, whether you have marinated it or just rinsed it, else it will steam instead of cooking over the dry heat.
The following recipe is from Thailand and lime juice and butter are used to marinate the squid and also to baste it. Use oil instead of butter if you prefer, and lemon juice instead of lime juice if you have that instead. The squid is served with a delicious spicy dipping sauce made with garlic, chilies and lime juice. Increase the amount of chilies if you prefer a piquant taste or decrease it for a milder result.
The dipping sauce needs to be prepared before you cook the squid since the squid only takes a few minutes to cook completely and you will not have time to start making a sauce during or after. Because the cooking time is so brief do not leave the BBQ area while the squid is cooking. Instead keep an eye on it, flipping it halfway through. As soon as you see it turn from glossy and translucent to opaque it is done and should be removed from the heat. Further cooking will only toughen it.
In order to make squid tender, you need to either cook it quickly over a high heat or slowly using a low heat. Anything between these extremes will not yield the best texture. Squid may be stuffed and braised in liquid for half an hour or it can be grilled over fire in a few minutes. The method you choose depends what kind of dish you want to have and how much time you have. Slow-braised squid is good in the winter but barbequing the squid is perfect during the summer months when cooking outside is a real pleasure and having a new ingredient to work with is exciting. If you knowledge of calamari is limited to those crispy little rings you get at the restaurant, it is time to get some fresh squid, or at least squid tubes, and road-test this easy Thai squid recipe.
- 1 lb cleaned medium-size squid
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- Cilantro, for garnish
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 minced red chilies
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- Rinse the squid and pat dry using paper towels.
- Combine the butter and lemon juice and marinate the squid in this mixture for 30 minutes.
- Stir the dipping sauce ingredients together and chill until required.
- Remove the squid from the marinade but keep the marinade.
- Preheat the grill to medium-hot and cook the squid for 2 minutes per side or until just opaque.
- Baste it with the marinade during cooking.
- Be careful not to overcook the squid else it will go tough.
- Slice the cooked squid and serve garnished with cilantro, and with the dipping sauce on the side.
Slashing the squid like you see in the photo is optional but if you are worried about it curling up then you can do this if you wish. The skewers are optional. If you are using wooden ones, soak them in water for an hour before grilling so they do not ignite. Grilled squid is a great spring or summer recipe served with a green salad. It only takes a few minutes to cook and you can see when the squid is done because it will look opaque all over. As soon as this happens it is perfectly cooked and should be removed from the heat and served.
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