Saturday, December 13, 2008

Another secret from uncle 4 - stir fried squid with Taiwanese cabbage

At dinner last night, I wrangled another recipe from our family's most illustrious chef, Uncle 4*.

*Side note: If Auntie 1 had kept up on her computer classes and remember how to get to our family blog, she may disagree with me on who is the most illustrious chef in the family. But yesterday she said she's forgotten about how to get into her email again, so let us leave Uncle 4 as our family's top chef for now.

The recipe is for Uncle 4's squid and Taiwanese cabbage stir fry. I remember this dish from a couple of years ago when Aaron visited Taiwan for the first time and proclaimed this dish to be his favorite of the trip. It's really no surprise after you've tasted it!

As we sat around the dinner table, a few of us fought to be the hand model in the picture of the dish. I will post the picture soon so you can see the winner who was photographed with the stirfry!

This stirfry is a little spicy, very savory, and tastes full of fresh seafood flavor. I'm not sure what to use to reproduce the great umami from the fresh squid but I'll definitely try when I get home.

Uncle 4's Stir Fried Squid with Taiwanese Cabbage
(all parenthetical comments directly quoted from the dinner table)
Serves 4-6

2 cups small squid (with skin), rinsed very briefly (or else you will wash the flavor right off!), and cut into medium size pieces
3-4 cups Taiwanese cabbage, washed, cut into about 1 inch pieces
white pepper
garlic, minced
scallion, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 small red chili pepper, in 1/3 inch dice
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons black vinegar
cooking oil

A well-seasoned wok. (Auntie 1 claims that the wok is "seldom washed" to retain the flavor. The wok at my grandma's house has seen a lot of delicious dishes in its day. I'll probably use my cast iron pan at home to approximate the flavor.)

In a plate, season the squid with salt, white pepper, and MSG (which I don't have at home. I'll have to ask for a substitute). Sprinkle the squid with about 5-6 Tablespoons of cornstarch, massage it into the squid until the squid is coated with the starch.

Heat "plenty" of oil in your wok over medium high heat. Add scallion, garlic, and chili pepper. Fry until fragrant.

Add the squid and stir fry until barely opaque. Remove and set aside.

With the left over oil in the wok, stir fry the Taiwanese cabbage until cooked through. Add more garlic and hot chili at this point if desired.

When the cabbage is soft, return the squid to the wok and stir fry to combine. The starch in the squid and the juices from the cabbage should create a slightly thickened sauce. If you'd like more sauce, add a little more water and thicken with corn starch.

When the stir fry has the consistency you like, add about 1 teaspoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons of black vinegar (you don't want to taste the vinegar in the dish but just to balance out the flavors).

Serve immediately.