This is an updated post from the Macheesmo Archives!
People are so scared of squid! I just don’t get it. I’ve been talking about this calamari salad for a week or so since I’ve made it and a lot of people are kind of put off by the idea. News flash though people: If it’s good deep-fried, it’s probably good other ways. Not to mention that calamari is really inexpensive and cooks in seconds.
What’s not to love about calamari? Couple it with some really fresh and colorful veggies and you end up with a delicious and light salad.
You could basically pick apart this recipe from the above picture except for maybe the light dressing. The dressing was a bit of an experiment but it turned out great.
1) Cut all the tomatoes in half and dice up the red pepper and onion.
2) Peel the leaves off the bok choy like you would stalks of celery, wash them really well, and then chop them once down the middle and dice them up.
3) Mix up dressing ingredients and toss it in with veggies.
4) If calamari isn’t cleaned, clean it by rinsing and removing the innards. Roughly dice cleaned calamari.
5) Get oil going on high heat.
6) Toss in garlic and red pepper flakes.
7) Let simmer for about 30 seconds and then throw in calamari.
8) Cook calamari for 60 seconds. You might need 90 seconds depending on the size of your calamari, but basically pull them off the heat as soon as they start to turn opaque. They will continue to cook off the heat for a minute or two.
9) Toss in with the veggies and serve up in individual bowls or family style!
Prepping the Veggies
This whole salad doesn’t take very long to pull together. The hardest part is chopping all the veggies. Just cut all the tomatoes in half and dice up the red pepper and onion.
If you’ve never used bok choy before it is basically like a leafy cabbage. It’s really good! You could actually substitute cabbage for it if you can’t find bok choy. If you can though, give it a shot.
Peel the leaves off like you would stalks of celery, wash them really well, and then chop them once down the middle and dice them up.
The dressing for this salad is really good… I think these give a lot of flavor to the dish. I guess you could leave out the fish sauce and just do like a Thai chili and citrus dressing with some peanut oil or sesame oil. That would be good I think. These were in my fridge so I used them, but I encourage experimentation for the dressing!
Regardless of what you use, mix it up separately and then toss it in with your veggies!
Cooking the Calamari
Don’t worry. I didn’t forget about the calamari. It’s just really important to do it very last because it takes no time to cook and everything else should be done before you even worry about it.
I got lucky and my calamari was cleaned already when I got it. It will most likely come cleaned for you if you buy it at the grocery store. If you buy it at the fish market (fresher!), you may have to clean it yourself. Don’t fret about it. It isn’t so bad. Check out this video. It’ll guide you through cleaning these guys.
Seriously. The tentacles are the best part in my opinion. You could of course just use the rings though if that’s your style. You’ll need to buy more though as you’re basically throwing out half the calamari if you don’t use the tentacles.
To cook them get your oil going on high heat. I like to use peanut oil for this, but you can substitute liberally here.
Then toss in your garlic and red pepper flakes.
Let those simmer for about 30 seconds and then throw in all your calamari. There will be steam. There will be shriveling!
Set a timer for 60 seconds. One minute. That’s it for these guys. Calamari is kind of tricky to cook. Basically, if you cook it for one minute, it will be perfect. If you cook it for two minutes it will be rubbery. If you then continued to cook it for like 30 minutes, it would be perfect again. Weird stuff.
Anyway, you might need 90 seconds depending on the size of your calamari, but basically pull them off the heat as soon as they start to turn opaque. They will continue to cook off the heat for a minute or two.
And also, people eat them raw so don’t freak out about a little medium-rare action.
COOKING NOTE: My wife will be the first to tell you that cooking calamari can leave your house smelling pretty fishy. Open the windows, light a candle, etc. Oddly, the salad doesn’t taste fishy, but the aroma of cooking calamari can be off-putting for some.
You can serve individual servings like I did in the first photo or do a family style thing like this!
There is a lot that I love about this salad. It’s spicy. It has calamari in it. It has avocado in it. And it’s really healthy!
Seriously, give this calamari salad a shot. Don’t fear the squid!