Monday, April 24, 2006

Salt and Pepper Squid Salad


Yes, those are tentacles. And yes, they are purple. Don't be afraid...they're delicious.

They say (read: Mark Bittman says) squid is only good when cooked one of two ways: ''Cook it for 20 seconds or two hours.'' I doubt I'll ever get around to the slow simmer method--not when an entire dinner as good as this can be conjured in 5 minutes flat.

As is often the case Chez ToastPoint, this quick menu was created out of a fear of decay. After a trip to the store, the three ingredients bound to be past their prime soonest were salad greens, a warm baguette, and fresh squid. So, clean the greens, toss the squid in the pan for a bare minute or two, break the bread, and eat!

***
Salt and Pepper Squid Salad
(inspired by Mark Bittman's Squid with Black Pepper, Vietnamese Style)

Wash and tear into bite-sized pieces:
1 head soft salad lettuce

Clean and cut into rings or small pieces:
3/4 pound squid, with tentacles

Chop and set aside:
4-5 cloves garlic, or enough to produce 1 Tablespoon (I used pre-chopped garlic from a jar. Long live shortcuts!)

Warm over high heat in a large skillet:
1-2 Tablespoons oil (I used grapeseed)

When the oil is hot, scrape in the squid, and cook until just opaque and the tentacles start to curl--an entertainingly creepy sight--2 minutes, max. Add the garlic, then:
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
1 teaspoon sea salt

Stir well while cooking for another ten seconds, then tip onto the waiting bed of salad, juices and all. Squeeze over:
1 lemon

Toss and enjoy. I used hunks of bread to soak up the salty, milky juices left on my plate.

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