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Last night’s dinner was partly the result of a new economy drive and partly another desperate attempt to get rid of some bloody cabbage.

I won’t elaborate on bloody cabbage for now other than to say they keep arriving in the veg box and I’m running out of cabbagey ideas. This recipe delt with a small corner of a large red cabbage which represents at least some progress.

As for economising, I’m in the process of booking my trip back home to Australia and let’s just say the blood drains from my face when I look at the cost of the flights alone. So now I’m penny pinching and, squid can be a surprisingly cheap meal if you do down the supermarket-fish-counter route (as opposed to posh fish monger). It feels like a real treat, but you can feed two people with coins rather than notes.

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We used a  vietnemese Nuoc Cham dressing on the coleslaw (an old favourite), and chilli and soy for the squid so nothing new or particularly ground-breaking. But together it made for a lovely, light mid-week dinner for two. On a shoe-string.

Ingredients:

Squid

  • 8 small-medium squid tubes with heads
  • Glug of medium soy sauce
  • 1 chilli, sliced (and de-seeded if you don’t like too much heat)
  • Groundnut oil for cooking
  • Sprinkling of sea salt and coriander to garnish.

Coleslaw

  • Large handful of finely sliced red cabbage (or green cabbage would work too)
  • Large handful of grated carrot
  • 2 spring onions (split down the middle in lengths and finely sliced)
  • Chopped coriander
  • About 15 peanuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan and crushed.

Nuoc Cham dressing

  • Juice of half a lime
  • Glug of fish sauce
  • A few glugs of rice wine vinegar
  • Tiny dash of seseme oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of brown sugar (or white is fine)

Method

Assuming you have bought squid already gutted and basically prepared, all you really need to do open up the tubes by cutting them down one side. Score the flesh by lightly slicing diagonally in one direction and then the other way so you have a criss-cross pattern. Add to a bowl with a few glugs of soy and sliced chilli to your liking.

Then prepare the ‘slaw by simply combining all the ingredients.  This gives time for the squid to lightly marinade. Dress the salad at the last minute.

Ideally the squid would be cooked on an open flames on a BBQ, but otherwise a super hot heavy bottomed pan will do.  Use groundnut oil as it cooks at a much higher heat.  Throw open the windows and prepare yourself for a few minutes of manic squid cooking.  Once the oil has just started to smoke, add the squid cooking in batches if need be. The squid will curl up when it hits a hot pan so you want to try and hold them flat with a wooden spatula or some such.  The pan will spit and smoke. The squid is cooked then it turns opaque white.  The trick is not to overcook it as it can go from lovely and tender to rubbery in an instant.  No more than 15 seconds each side I’d say though it does depend on the size of your squids.