I find cooking to be one of the most grounding and nurturing activities in my sometimes crazy life. This is a fantastically easy and tasty recipe that works equally well for squid/calamari, firm white fish fillets, tofu, chicken or pork. Pair it with a white wine, beer or a smoky tea. And please think about where your food comes from. Organic,free-range, local and seasonal produce is always best.
This recipe will provide three generous serves, or four if you are not ravenous. It’s not a hard and fast kind of a recipe – so feel free to vary quantities and ingredients to suit yourself.
Ingredients for marinade: One big teaspoon of honey, the juice of a freshly squeezed lime or lemon, an inch of ginger knob grated or finely chopped, two cloves of garlic crushed, 1/3 of a cup of soy sauce, a teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice powder (buy it ready-made or make your own with this easy recipe) If you like chilli, feel free to add some in to your taste requirements.
Method: Mix all ingredients together in a large shallow bowl, big enough to hold the scored squid or other meat/tofu.
To prepare Calamari for marinade: Take your cleaned calamari (squid tubes) and use a knife to open them out flat, cutting into two halves along the natural seams. Score the inner surface in a criss-cross pattern with a sharp knife, being careful not to cut all the way through. Lay each piece in the marinade, coating well. Leave for one hour or more, returning to refrigerator.
***Timing Hint: This is great served with steamed rice, so get that going before you assemble the rest of the dish. The actual cooking time for the vegetables is ten minutes tops, and the calamari takes about two minutes on either side on the barbeque or on a heated griddle pan. So just before you add in your soft vegetables/leaves to the stir fry, make sure you’ve cooked your calamari so it’s ready to go when you need it.
To cook the Calamari: Heat your barbeque or a heavy bottomed skillet or griddle. Oil if necessary. Put the pieces onto the hot grill. Don’t worry if they curl up. After two minutes turn. After another two minutes remove from heat. Don’t cook too long or it will be chewy rather than tender. If you’re unsure test a bit. Slice into rings ready to add to the vegetables.
Note – If you have a husband like mine, who is “in charge of the barbeque”, he may end up taking credit for this dish, even if his only job was heating the grill and turning the prepared product!
Stir Fried Vegetable Ingredients: If you are on a low carb diet use around six to eight cups of chopped/sliced mixed vegetables. Four will be fine if you intend to eat this with rice. Sticking with my personal philosophy of fresh and seasonal, I am using a little over 2 cups of fresh button mushrooms, (knowing that I will eat some while they are cooking!), 2 large bok choi and some fresh spinach straight from my garden, and two sticks of celery. You also need a knob of butter, a teaspoon of sesame oil if you have it, a teaspoon of cornflour, two cloves of garlic crushed or finely chopped, an inch or so of peeled ginger root sliced finely, some water, pepper, a handful of cashew nuts, and a slurp of soy sauce.
Method: In a large fry pan, heat the butter with a quarter cup or so of water, then dump in the mushrooms, garlic and ginger. Use a high heat and stir often. Don’t be afraid to add more water if the pan dries out. Use the picture below as a guide to the liquid levels you need. You want to saute the mushrooms until they take on the flavours of the garlic and ginger. Feel free to eat a few as you go! Grind a little pepper over the top to taste. (Sadly, after this pic was taken I had to add another large cup of mushrooms because I had already eaten so many!) I must also add that this particular dinner tasted extra good because my friend Carly-Jay Metcalfe, our visiting poet, did most of the stirring in this stir fry!
Now add any firm vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower that will take a little longer to cook. Lastly add the vegetables that will cook in a flash, like Asian greens, snow peas, asparagus etc. as well as your sesame oil. Stir well over a high heat. Check the liquid in the pan. Add the cornflour to a 1/2 cup of water, mix well and then stir through to thicken the pan juices. Add a slurp of soy sauce for some saltiness, and a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime.
Dump in your calamari and the cashews and stir to combine. Remove from heat. Serve with rice or on its own.
Garnish: A wedge of lemon or lime is a nice touch. I would have added some chopped coriander (cilantro) on top as a garnish, but our resident wild mumma wallaby and her baby ate it all! (see picture to left) As fast as it shoots back they mow it to the ground.
Herb Thieves: The wallabies are too cute for me ever to be mad at them, no matter how much of my garden they nibble. Enjoy!