The Novice Cook: Squid, Potato and Chilli
I just had a couple of my wisdom teeth removed a few days back, which only meant a diet of gooey porridge and soup. The only joy I could partake in was the fact that I had five days off from work. This gave me the perfect opportunity to foray into the kitchen while everyone else was out of the house (except my Dad, he’s always home). The great thing about having the whole day free from work obligations meant I could have (A) a long relaxing brunch, (B) a leisurely grocery shopping trip and (C) short coffee break thereafter. And it’s always a joy to shop in a relatively empty market.
Although I was nursing a wounded mouth, it was in the midst of healing and I could slowly consume soft foods. I decided to be slightly more adventurous though – I figured squid should be tender enough. Or that all sense of wisdom was left at the dentist chair (we have a local saying that squids are ‘blur’, meaning dim and clueless. So, if someone calls you sotong, it’s an insult).
Why squid then? They just seemed odd, don’t they? A little like aliens of the sea world, with their stringy tentacles and bulging bug-eyed faces. They look slimy and slightly creepy as though they can murder you by wrapping multiple legs around you. Death By Sotong, that’s terrible. But that’s what intrigued me, because despite their unfortunate looks, they were a delight to taste.
My only problem was that I had no idea how to prepare squid. I knew I had to get rid of the transparent bone and make sure that none of the black ink is introduced into my dish. Thankfully I had help from my equally clueless father to cut the creature for me. I stood beside him as he explained the steps in a very convincing manner – dads are endearing this way. Well, luckily for both of us, he succeeded in cleaning the squid and I had something to cook with.
The recipe called for the squid to be covered with flour, which gave a very odd texture to the seafood when done. I’m not sure if it was supposed to create a crispy layer since it was baked and not fried. There wasn’t much a batter per se, so what resulted was a mushy-type texture I wasn’t crazy about. Paired with chilli (which Dad cut, because he was worried that I’d get them in my eyes) and potatoes, the dish had a piquant spicy kick and a refreshing citrusy taste from the lemon juice. I wouldn’t mind cooking this dish again, but without the flour and the potatoes. Maybe with a generous helping of blended chilli sauce and lime…. like sambal sotong…
When he saw the final dish, Dad laughed and shook his head. At that moment, I transformed into a four-year-old girl playing chef in her toy kitchen.
The recipe can be found here.