Goan-Style Indian Squid (Goa ki squid kari)

From Hari Nayak’s “My Indian Kitchen”, this squid curry is a pan-Asian flavour combo of soy sauce, coconut milk, and Indian spice blends. Says Nayak, street vendors add soy sauce to the dish in India now too.

I made the dish because a friend gifted me fresh curry leaves from a southeast Asian grocer up by Parc metro. I also love squid because it’s so cheap. So if there’s a good recipe for it I always to test it out. Squid is easy to over-cook and often tastes rubbery, so I find it’s actually best on day 2 after sitting in a sauce to loosen it up. (Don’t we all feel looser after a long bath/marinade?) Then, even after reheating, it stays soft and chewy instead of tough – kind of like cooking it sous-vide or confit – long and slow, but you just have to let your refrigerator do the non-cooking.

And it’s really not that great on day 1, since no matter how quickly you pull it off the heat, the squid is going to sit in the hot broth and seize up. So I’d recommend serving it as a side dish on day 1 (or at least have some other item on the menu to focus your tastebuds on…) and then as a main the next day with rice on the side. Basmati or jasmine, or even Chinese short-grain, since it’s so Pan-Asian a recipe already. My only other complaint was that I added all the lime juice called for at once and then tasted to see if it needed more, but it needed less! And that’s not exactly fixable…on day 2 I diluted it with more water to reheat and that worked okay, but it also dilutes all the other flavours. So I’ve reduced the amount of lime juice in the recipe below.

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Goan-Style Squid Curry

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

2 tsp chili powder or cayenne powder (it’s SPICY, so use less if you’re afraid of heat)

1 tsp ground turmeric

2 lbs fresh or frozen squid, cleaned, cut into 1/4″ rings. Leave the tentacles whole if there are any.

2 tsp soy sauce (I used gluten-free)

1 tbsp chopped green onions (I used the white part only and saved the green parts for a smashed potato dish with the mussel pot liquor from another recipe, but you could use the entire scallion minus the very end with the root)

1 1/2 tbsp high-heat oil (coconut or sunflower or grapeseed, or vegetable or canola if that’s all you have)

2 onions, thinly sliced

10 fresh or dried curry leaves (curry is a leaf, not a powder…it’s probably easiest to find them dried. If you can find them frozen, even better. If you can find them fresh, best)

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger

1/2 cup coconut milk (I drained the coconut cream from the top of the can and then just used the coconut milk. It sucked. So I added some of the cream back. It still sucked. It got better on day two when I added some more. Use a good brand of coconut milk…probably not the “lite” stuff, but you may need to sample some brands before you find a good one. If you can’t taste coconut and it doesn’t taste luxurious, then it’s not good enough. Use up to 1 entire can if you need to, but once the dish gets overpowered by the coconut flavour it’s just as sad as when you can’t taste it at all, so be careful)

1 1/2 tbsp lime juice (up to 3 tbsp, to taste)

1/2 tsp salt (only if necessary – the soy sauce should be enough on its own)

Directions:

First you roast the whole spices until lightly browned, then let them cool and then grind them to a powder in a spice blender or a regular blender, or coffee grinder. Add the dried spices and pulse again to combine.

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Then you want to marinate the squid rings with the spices, the soy sauce and green onions for about 20 minutes. Don’t worry about exactly how long, though, because by the time you’re ready to cook them they’ll have marinated enough. Before you turn on the heat, make sure all the rest of your ingredients are measured and ready to go. Especially the coconut milk. You don’t want to have to go running for a can opener while the squid over-cooks. Actually, pour about 3/4 cup into a small saucepan and warm it on low heat starting now. Now sauté the onions in the oil on medium-high heat until brown (longer than you think, because you don’t want crunchy onions and they won’t have time to cook later. Turn down the heat if they start to stick, and/or add a tbsp or so of water). Then add the fresh curry leaves, garlic, ginger, and marinated squid and give it all a quick stir for 30 seconds. This is why you can’t turn the heat down for the onions above. The pan needs to be on medium-high for the squid. Add most of the coconut milk, reserving a little to adjust to taste in a minute. Bring the skillet to a boil and add the lime juice. Take the skillet off the heat, taste the sauce, and add the salt (if necessary) and/or more coconut milk.

Buy this book for a better explanation of the recipe, the beautiful photos, and the rest of the stunning book. But beware the called-for quantity of lime juice.

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