Sunday, February 17, 2008

Adventures in Food

What do you mean once-a-month isn't good enough to maintain my blog? Oh, FINE. Here's what I've been up to...

I had a flash of inspiration about 2 weeks ago, and since I'm an adventurous cook (great idea for a new superhero: The Kitcheneer) I decided that I would invent a new dish for Chinese/Lunar New Year. Rather than honor the year of the Rat (since a KFC/Taco Bell in the Village already did that) I decided that I'd make stuffed squid. The idea was simple: Deep-fried squid tubes, stuffed with asian-y spiced crabmeat.

I started off with some basic ingredients:

- Chinese five spice
- Garlic powder
- Chili sesame seed oil
- Rice vinegar
- 1 can of crabmeat

I also chopped up some water chestnut and fresh cilantro.

On second thought, I'd rather use fresh garlic instead of the powdered.

Add one egg-yolk (not pictured) and thoroughly combine everything in a bowl. Hang on to the egg-white, we'll use that in a bit.

Note: I am intentionally NOT giving you the quantities of each ingredient. For one thing, I never cook with exact quantities of ingredients, so I don't know how much I used. For another, everyone's tastes are different. Get to know your ingredients and you'll know how much of each to add.

Now pull out those icky, slimey (read: yummy) squiddies. I found these in the frozen section of my local People's Market for the Glorious Distribution of Foodstuffs to Honor Dear Leader. They're already cleaned, so just thaw them out and pull the tentacles out of the tubes.

Now stuff 'em. Don't waste those tentacles though. You can see, I rolled them in flour and am about to fry those too.

As with all things in life, if you don't want a premature end to the fun, you've got to get your tubes tied. I used unwaxed, unflavored dental floss.

Finally, dip them in the egg-white and roll them in flour.

Now fry, blot dry, and dip in your favorite sauce. I'm dipping in Ajinomoto-brand Gyoza sauce

The result: They were WAY chewy and quite disappointing for all the work involved in stuffing them. I should have just sliced the tubes into rings and made calamari, as I originally intended when I bought them.

I wish I had seen Jaden's post about Chinese New Year traditions & superstitions before I started cooking. She writes that squid is very unlucky at New Years, because they resemble the rolled-up blanket/bedroll once given to workers when they were laid-off. I probably wouldn't have heeded this advice anyway, because I'm both a man and stubborn (see also: redundant) therefore nobody tells me what not to do. While chopping the cilantro, I sliced off the tip of my left ring-finger. Either because I was dizzy from the blood loss, or because I was now doing things wrong-handedly to protect my bo-bo, I accidentally touched the edge of the fryer and gave myself a little burn. Strike two. The third strike came unexpectedly in the form of foam. I've never seen this before or since, but the oil in my fryer became quite foamy, and by the third batch of tubes, overflowed and spilled EVERYWHERE. At that point I gave up and threw away the remaining uncooked tubes (not much, actually) and commenced cursing fluently in every language I've ever heard. It took me a good hour to get a basic level of clean back to the kitchen, and several more days to get back to the surgical sterility to which I'm accustomed. *sigh* But will I pay heed in the future to superstitious warnings? Not as long as I've got a dick!