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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

October 8, 2014 at 8:28 AM

Chef Tom Douglas offers tips on squid preparation as fishery is off to a fast start

Douglas_04The squid jigging season has gotten off to a fast start with anglers doing the jig on many Puget Sound piers.

Autumn is the start of this nightly affair that spans all across various Puget Sound piers, including places like Pier 86 on the Seattle waterfront near the grain terminals, Edmonds Pier, Des Moines Pier, Illahee State Park Pier and the Bremerton Piers. The best time to catch a bucket of squid occurs during a flood tide exchange with most measuring 6 to 9 inches long, and the best months of the fishery are yet ahead of us which usually happens in December and January.

In this week’s Seafood Recipe of the Week, Chef Tom Douglas offers some creative ways to prepare squid for a wonderful seafood dining experience.

This season we’ve have weekly recipes and advice that began in April and will go through October on how to cook up and dish out a wide variety of local seafood by experts like Anthony’s Restaurant; Tiffany Haugen, Outdoor Cooking expert/author; tackle shop owners; local seafood-market owners; and fishing guides and charter services.

Douglas is owner of Assembly Hall; Brave Horse Tavern; Cuoco; Dahlia Lounge; Dahlia Bakery; Etta’s; Home Remedy; Lola; Palace Kitchen; Rub With Love Shack; Seatown; Serious Pie Westlake; Serious Biscuit Westlake; Serious Pie Virginia; and Tanaka San.

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Here is Douglas’ advice on how to prepare them:

Soon after I opened my seafood joint, Etta’s, in the Pike Place Market, we decided to serve our signature “Flash Fried Squid” at that year’s Bite of Seattle.

After frying four thousand pounds of squid, or some twelve thousand orders, over the course of three days, I thought I would never eat this dish again. But I soon got over it, and twenty years later, my favorite lunch at Etta’s is still the crispy but tender squid- always both the sliced rings and the tentacles- flash fried in hot oil. When paired with a plate of spinach and bacon salad, this is a lunch that satisfies in a way that feels somewhat healthy (spinach!) yet with just the right amount of guilty pleasures.

The key to great fried squid is “flash-frying” in hot oil for only a few minutes which keeps it tender.

We originally fried Etta’s squid after a dredge in well-seasoned all-purpose flour, but these days the cooks use a fifty/fifty mix of all-purpose and rice flour for the dredge.

The rice flour helps give the squid a wonderfully crisp texture. Once out of the fryer, the squid is seasoned liberally with salt and Chinese red pepper. We get the pepper from World Spice on Western Ave, and it adds both spicy flavor and a beautiful dash of bright red.

The current version of fried squid on Etta’s menu comes with an aioli that’s seasoned with Korean red chili paste, but you can serve anything you like for a dipping sauce such as a bright, piquant lemon-caper tartar sauce or a smoky, sultry Spanish Romesco.

To keep squid tender and not tough or rubbery, cook it either by a quick technique like frying, or a long, slow technique like braising. Often we eat squid fried, so it’s fun to grill it for a change. To grill squid, slice the cleaned bodies open into two flat pieces and thread them, along with the tentacles, onto skewers, then grill quickly over a direct fire with the coals as close as possible to the grate, turning the squid several times.

Before grilling, I like to marinate the mild flavored squid in something full flavored, like Moroccan chermoula made with parsley, cilantro, olive oil, garlic and a kick of hot chilies.

After the squid are cooked through, opaque, and charred in a few places, which will only take a few minutes over a hot fire, remove the skewers from the grill and serve the squid over grilled garlic toasts to sop up the juices and marinade.   Put a little arugula salad dressed with lemon vinaigrette over the top of each toast to add a fresh tasting bite of green.

 

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