The recent revival of a story about calamari had Lieve a little uneasy about squid. She is pressing her vegetarian leanings to eat fish, and it had taken a bit to convince her that squid are fish, but pork? So I started buying whole squid so she would know they are real.
Squid are really interesting creatures, my first experiment had been cutting them into rings and frying them, but I wanted to try something more unusual. It occurred to me that grilling whole squid might be nice, and I set to work on a recipe. This one didn’t go as planned, but was still nice. I had intended to complement the squid, and ended up burying it. For that reason I’m not presenting this as a recipe but as a method, the measurements still need to be adjusted.
I made a filling with eggplant, portabello mushroom, cubanelle pepper, feta cheese, cilantro, capers, kalamata olives, and grated ginger. I precooked the eggplant, not being sure how it would catch up with the rest of the stuffing on the grill. This was very good, and I have a little left over that I’ll probably stuff pablano peppers with. After separating the bodies from the tentacles, I dredged the bodies in a mix of white flour, corn meal, and garam masala.
I used too much garam masala for Lieve, but the spice level was just right for me. Next, I stuffed the squid with the filling. Lesson learned ~ squid contracts when cooked, don’t over stuff the bodies unless you want stuffing in your grill. After that I ran them through the flour mixture again to keep the exterior spiced.
Then out to the grill. Unfortunately, the Labor Day weather did not allow the wonderful cook out I had planned and cooked side dishes for, but we did have a few hours of clear weather that allowed me to drag the grill into the driveway.
Every flavor was present except squid. Next time around I think I’ll use an oil rather than flour. I’ll also buy fresh squid at the fish market where I can get larger and heavier squid.
The side dishes, a spinach dip and felafel stuffed peppers, worked well, and Lieve’s Rhubarb and Ginger crumble was wonderful.
So the squid dish wasn’t a complete success, but it wasn’t a failure. It was tasty and nutritious, I learned from the experience, and it was fun to experiment. It didn’t turn out how I expected, but from the experience I have ideas on how to make it turn out the way I want next time. It took ten years to get my chili perfect, this isn’t nearly as complicated.
If you use foods you already enjoy, and combine them in unique ways, it feeds your growth as a chef. When you fail, it can be a learning experience, when you succeed, it can be beautiful.