Calamari with Thai Basil, Onions and Ginger
This week's farm share box included a bag of mesclun mix, a bag of flavorful baby arugula, snap beans, a beautiful bunch of white-tipped radishes, a bunch of purple-stemmed Thai basil, a bunch of savory, a head of Chinese cabbage, a bunch of Swiss chard, a head of green cabbage and a bunch of beautiful new onions. I was jonesing for an Asian-style meal -- after all, I did live for twelve years right next to Boston's Chinatown, where I got in the habit of eating wonderful and authentic Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean and Vietnamese food on a very regular basis... This bag of herbs and veggies was particularly inspiring in the Asian direction -- in this one meal I used the cabbage, the onions, the Thai basil and the savory!
Swiss Chard Demystified! My pal Helen at Beyond Salmon (a CSA shareholder at Brookfield Farm in Massachusetts) posted an informative primer on Swiss chard a couple of days ago, along with a very yummy recipe. CLICK HERE to check it out.
This dish is very simple to prepare. The calamari is briefly blanched, then quickly stirfried with the onions and ginger, and finally mixed with the other ingredients for a few seconds of warming and blending. The blanching and quick stir-frying of the calamari insures that it remains very tender and not at all chewy, which is essential to all good calamari preparations. The fragrant Thai basil is tossed in just before serving so that it remains fresh and powerfully forward in the final dish.
The result satisfied my craving for a good plate of "Chinese" food and the fresh Thai basil gave it a distinctive and memorable taste. I served this with plain white rice and a variation my Ginger-Steamed Cabbage (made with the Wolf Pine Farm green cabbage, but omitting the little dried shrimp and substituting savory from this week's share for the cilantro -- I also omitted the sesame oil as the calamari dish had sesame oil in it). Another winner!
Calamari with Thai Basil, Onions, Garlic and Ginger
1 lb cleaned squid
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 or 4 new onions, cut lengthwise (or yellow onions, cut vertically in crescents)
1-1/2" piece of ginger, peeled and sliced in thin coins
2 T Chinese fermented black bean sauce
1/4 C dry sherry
1-1/2 tsp corn starch
1/4 C Thai basil, chopped
2 tsp sesame oil
Separate the tentacle clusters from the squid bodies if that hasn't been done already. Cut the squid bodies lengthwise in strips. It they are more than 4" long, cut them in half. Blanch the squid for one minute in boiling salted water, then rinse in cold water and let drain in a collander.
Stir fry the onions for a minute or two in a tablespoon of oil in a hot wok or heavy skillet. When they just start to turn translucent, add the ginger and garlic and toss for another minute. Add the squid and toss for another minute, then add the black bean sauce. Stir the corn starch into the sherry and add the mixture to the pan. Then cook just long enough for the sauce to thicken slightly, about another minute. Stir in the basil and the sesame oil and serve at once, with plain white rice.
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