Saturday, June 13, 2015

Charred Squid in Chili-Garlic Sauce

For years, I have been using grape seed oil for my sautéing and frying. It has a very high smoke point, which made it a logical choice. A couple of weeks ago I decided to use it as the oil in a salad dressing I was making. It tasted awful and it made me want to hurl monkeys from my butt. So I did a little research and found that grape seed oil does not age well. It's fine when it's fresh, but not so much when it's not.

Damian Hirtz turned me on to this little gem. It's Avolio Avocado Oil and it's available at Costco. It's incredibly healthy for you and it has an even higher smoke point than grape seed oil. Best of all, it does not turn bitter as it ages. I've been using it as my "go-to" oil ever since and I am never going back to grape seed oil.

Today's recipe is from chefs Pim Techamuanvivit and  Mike Gaines, who run Khin Kao restaurant in San Francisco. Pim calls this Thai dish "kick you in the face spicey" and believe me, it is all that. But it's also incredibly delicious and refreshing. I recommend serving it with a little sticky or basmati rice to offset the heat. Their recipe serves four.

5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1½ bird’s eye or other hot chilies, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons palm sugar or light brown sugar
Juice of 1½ limes
5 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
2 pounds whole squid, cleaned
1 cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup toasted and finely chopped peanuts


  1. Use a mortar and pestle or a food processor to crush garlic, chilies and sugar to a coarse paste. Transfer to a small bowl, then stir in lime juice and fish sauce. Set aside.
  2. Heat half the oil in a cast-iron or other large, heavy pan over high heat. Once oil is shimmering hot, sear half the squid, turning frequently, until surface browns on all sides and squid just cooks through, about 3 minutes total. Repeat with remaining oil and squid.
  3. Transfer squid to a serving plate and spoon sauce over top. Sprinkle with cilantro and peanuts. Serve.

Wine Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc

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