For the longest time, I was terrified of bringing squid home to cook. Not that I didn’t know how to cook them but the question was how to gut and clean them. For an erstwhile vegetarian, fish weren’t so daunting. Head, tail and guts in between. Anatomy 101. But with squid I was pardon the horrible pun, at sea.
As a child, jellyfish used to get washed up on the shores of Juhu beach soon after the stormy monsoons churned up its contents onto our snack cart crowding, horse ride stampeding, balloon selling strip of sand. With what we thought was bravado then and now realise was sheer stupidity, my sister Gauri and I got a short stick and poked and prodded the beached jellies, marvelling at how transparent they were and how they jiggled. Well, we were maybe 6-7 then. The stick then gave way to brave fingers and soon we were all up in the poor jellies’ business, gleefully eviscerating them and marvelling at how unlike their insides were to the large fish that used to get washed up with the jellyfish and get similarly eviscerated by gleeful gulls and crows.
The point I’m trying to make is that standing at the fish market and looking at the squid laid out I had only one question. These aren’t transparent like the jellies of my childhood, so how the hell do I figure out the insides? A question that came from my 6year old brain, undoubtedly.
Well, I brought the squid home and set about to find out. And find out I did, successfully managing to clean and process them using intuition and basic biology principles. I showed my handiwork to Hitesh, my resident ‘I’ll eat anything that walks, crawls, swims and flies’ who declared that my squid weren’t going to kill us so I went ahead and made my favourite squid recipe of all time!
The rechead masala is a spicy and tangy masala which is a staple in the Catholic Goan kitchen. It goes beautifully with stir fried seafood or as a marinade for crumb fried sea food. It is available in deep hues of red, conveniently pre packaged at all Goan stores in India and around the world. I learnt to make it from scratch from Aunty Annie across the street. I’ll put up the recipe in a separate post really soon, I promise. Sometimes when I’m out of rechead masala and my greed for fresh seafood can’t wait, I use a paste of red chilli powder, cumin powder, salt, vinegar, turmeric as an alternative. The rest of the instructions remain the same. It’s equally good.
3 cups fresh squid, cleaned and chopped
1 tbsp oil
2tsp finely chopped garlic
2tbsp rechead masala
Salt to taste
- Wash and cut the squid as you prefer as rings, or squares choosing to use the tentacles or not.
- Heat oil in a pan and add the garlic. Give it a quick stir to brown it lightly and add the rechead masala.
- Fry the rechead masala on a low flame till it darkens and is cooked through. Add turmeric and mix well.
- Add the ketchup and fry for a few minutes more till the sauce starts glazing over. Turn up the heat and add the squid. Mix well and keep stirring till the squid starts ‘curling’.
- Lower the heat and cook covered for 4-5 minutes.
- Uncover and cook on high heat stirring continuously till all the liquid from the squid has evaporated and the squids are well coated and glazed.
- Take care not to overcook the squid or they will turn out rubbery. Well, that’s the blanket rule for cooking squid, not just for this recipe.