Don’t be scared of squid!

Photo: The final product. You can see how the steamed squid curls when it's cooked, and it's been made with tofu and green onions in the shrimp sauce

I may not reproduce this one any time soon, but here’s one Chinese cooking lesson for this week!

It’s Wednesday night – the only night in the week when my whole family can sit down to dinner together. In the past few weeks, Wednesday has also been my mom’s day off, and she’s breaking out her more elaborate Chinese recipes.

So I followed her around the kitchen, documenting how she makes homestyle Cantonese dishes. Think of it as cooking with mom. I usually have no clue what she will be making, and today she’s been to the market and picked up some fresh squid as a starting point.

Don’t be put off by squid – I’ve grown up eating seafood all my life, but for many friends I know that the texture of seafood makes them uncomfortable. Steamed squid as my mom prepared does resemble the soft rubber kind of texture, but if you’re adventurous, don’t skip out on squid. There is so much more beyond calamari!

The main ingredient that really makes this dish what it is is the fermented shrimp paste.

Funny story about fermented shrimp paste: my sister and I were never really a fan of it, because it has a strong smell. My mom doesn’t cook with this often, but when she does, she normally prepares it with a Chinese collard green that is completely hollow in the stem. Because I was introduced to that vegetable with this sauce, I can’t say I’ve ever liked that particular vegetable, even if it is made without fermented shrimp sauce! Have you ever had bad introductions to something, which puts you off trying it later on?


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