Summer is here and although Brisbane might be in a mini lockdown it won't stop me from cooking and eating good food. Not to mention great wine too! This week I was trying to be good (read leave extra calories for the wine!) so I whipped up a delicious grilled squid salad with juicy watermelon & Asian flavours. This salad looks fit for a starred restaurant but literally takes 30 minutes or less from start to finish. Trust me, once you have put this down on a warm summers day you will be told to cook it again and again!
Why I love this squid salad recipe
Pretty simple - it's tasty AF! Fresh squid tubes, marinated in simple Asian flavours and charred to give that delicious crisp texture and soft centre. Freshness from the chopped watermelon - an essential in QLD summer and texture from my homemade crispy shallots along with a little punch of chilli, pickled ginger and aromatic herbs. Not to mention it's washed down with one of our fave rose wines there simply is no better lunch salad or way to start off your evening meal than this simple grilled squid salad!
Difference between squid & calamari
Yes, there is a difference! The easiest way to tell the difference in the local fish shop is the price tag 😉 Calamari is more expensive than squid! Calamari is also known to be more tender than squid. It is slightly thinner and therefore more delicate.
Calamari is a type of squid, they both contain ink sacks (which is used for defence), appearance wise calamari are generally smaller. The fins on a squid are smaller than the full body length ones on calamari and the flaps on the sides of calamari are triangular where as squid as arrow like ones.
Whichever one you use you will be happy with as I found both work wonderfully. Typically you will purchase squid as squid tubes whereas calamari is bought whole. Read on and see my handy tips on cleaning calamari below!
How to clean calamari
Ask your fishmonger! This is my far the easiest way to do it BUT if you want to give it a go yourself follow these simple steps and you will be all set. Typically when you buy squid you will buy it as squid tubes and it's already cleaned. If you buy whole squid or whole calamari then you might need to get your hands dirty.
- cut just below the eye of the squid to separate the tentacles
- pull the "wings" or flaps off the top of the squid and peel the outer layer of skin off - this will peel very easily
- if leaving the squid whole (as a singular tube) pull the feather or quill from the squid along with the innards.
- inside the tentacles, there is a little ball like piece known as the 'beak' (see pic below). You will need to remove this - it pops out very easily.
- rinse the squid under cold water and job done!
- if you are cutting the squid into smaller rectangular pieces then just slice open the squid along the side and you can gently scrape the innards and quill out with your knife
It's really quite simple to do.............................
Prepping the grilled squid
Once you have cleaned it (if your fishmonger didn't do it for you!) it's down to prep for grilling it. I like to cut it into a few different shapes for the salad. Using the squid tubes I cut a few rings, I slice open the tube and cut them into multiple different sizes. All of this helps to take your presentation game to another level!
The main thing when prepping it is if you want that gnarly looking criss cross look on the squid what you need to do is cut the squid tubes into rectangular pieces. Don't worry you don't need a ruler 😉 You want to slice the squid on the inside in a criss cross pattern. Using a sharp knife gently slice across the squid. Don't cut to deep or else you will end up cutting throught the squid. This will help give you those nice funky curly bits of grilled squid and also allow the marinade to get stuck in all the little crevacies!
Marinating the squid
This is very important. As tasty as grilled squid is you want to add a little bite to the dish. For my recipe I have gone with Asian flavours in the marinade as it works well with squid and the watermelon too. Chop up the chili & coriander finely, mix them together with some citrus, a splash of olive oil and salt and toss the chili in it. I would recommend doing this no longer than 30 minutes beforehand. The reason for this is the acid in the lime will tenderize and break down the squid so if you do it for too long then it will ultimately break up the squid.
How to cook squid
Hot & fast. Squid is super tender and can very easily be overcooked. That's why you either see squid lightly grilled, flash fried or deep fried. All of these methods cook the squid hot & fast.
For this recipe we have gone will grilled squid - you can either use a grill pan or on the BBQ. I went for a grill pan as it was quicker than heating up the BBQ for a 3 minute cook. My preference if I was BBQ'ing something else would be to grill the squid over charcoal to add that extra dimension of flavour to it.
Ultimately, to perfect this grilled squid salad you are looking to char the squid for about 90 seconds, flip and cook for a further 60 seconds. If you have done a fancy little criss cross pattern on the squid place this side down on the grill first.
So back when travel was easy (September 2019) my wife & I took a trip to Barossa, South Australia. We broke the trip up into wineries for me and sight seeing for her. Don't get me wrong, we both enjoyed each others activities but the wine tasting was defo my priority!
After a day of being driven around (thanks wifey!) we stopped off at Seabrook winery with our 3yr old in search of good wine, friendly company (other than our own) and a meat/cheese board. Bonus points were well earned by Hamish as he brought out a basket of toys for Olivia so Naomi could enjoy her glass of wine in peace and I could sip on multiple tasters!
It was the perfect end to our day and in fact our stay in Barossa as we were heading to The Vale the next day. So much so that in little over a year I think we have ordered (and drunk) a little over a dozen of their riesling, half a dozen rose and about the same of their shiraz too!
Seabrook Rose & Grilled Squid Salad
So, in case you hadn't guessed this recipe is paired with one of the delicious wines from Seabrook winery - their 2020 'lineage' rose! There is nothing better than on a warm Aussie day to sip on delicious ice-cold rose and chow down on this grilled squid salad.
I wanted to add fresh flavours to the dish along with a little Asian influence too when I was coming up with the recipe. I remembered a dish I ate in NYC years ago of grilled watermelon & baby squid so I figured I'd make my own version of it and see how it goes. Well, not that I'm anyway biased but this grilled squid salad with watermelon is a winner!
The match of wine and squid salad was perfect. Light, juicy, acidic and fresh. That pretty much sums up both wine and dish. The Seabrook rose is packed with delicious strawberry, watermelon and crisp apple flavours, nicely balanced acidity and a little creaminess to it too. It really is a match made in heaven (or AnotherFoodBloggers house) with the grilled squid salad. As we are in the middle of summer just imagine sitting on your deck, the fan blowing above you, an ice bucket with a few bottles of rose in whilst you tuck into this deliciously fresh and flavourful squid salad. I just ate breakfast and all I want is to eat it now. Is 10.30am to early to have a glass of rose?
Alternative squid recipes
This is the first squid recipe I have posted on my site so expect to see more but in the meantime try some of these cracking squid recipes out!
Black Garlic Aioli (using squid ink) by Yours Truly
Salt & Pepper Air Fryer Calamari by Holly Connors of 'Simplfy Create Inspire'
Easy Squid Pasta by Rika Ag of 'Posh Journal'
Crispy Calamari Tacos by Kim Morris of 'Sugar Free Kitchen'
Sicilian Style Stuffed Squid by Caroline Williamsof 'Carolines Cooking'
Happy Cooking & Happy Eating Friends!!
- 300 g watermelon cut into 12 index finger sized pieces
- 3 squid tubes
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1 handful mint
- 2 tbsp coriander chopped & handful for salad
- 1 red chilli chopped finely
- 3 tbsp pickled ginger
- 3 tbsp crispy shallots
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 splash white wine vinegar
- 1 spring onion diced finely
- 1 red chili chopped finely
- 1 pinch salt
- Mix the chili with olive oil, chopped coriander, lime juice & a pinch of salt – set aside
- Cut the squid tubes into the following shapes/sizes
- a. 1 tube into rings
- b. 1 tube in half lengthways to open it out and in half lengthways again. Then cut each half into 4 pieces width ways
- c. 1 tube in half lengthways to open it out and then into 4 equal sized pieces
- Slice the pieces that you opened out in a criss cross pattern (on the inside of the squid), being v gentle so as not to cut through to the other side.
- Marinate squid in chilli/oil mixture for 10 – 30 minutes
- Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl
- Grill squid in a grill pan for 90 seconds, flip and cook for a further 60 seconds
- Place 3 pieces of watermelon “artfully” onto the plate
- Toss cooked squid with crispy shallots, pickled ginger, coriander & mint and place around the watermelon
- Drizzle the dressing over the top and enjoy!
- chef knives
- chopping board
- grill pan
- mixing bowl x 2
- measuring/weighing utensils
- don’t marinate the squid for too long as the acid in the lime juice will start to cook it and make it tougher when you grill it
- squid cooks VERY quickly so make sure everything else is ready to serve so you don’t overcook the squid