BBQ Bonanza 2011 - Grilled Squid with Tamarind and Orange

Since our theme for BBQ Bonanza 2011 is Sustainability at the Grill, you knew we'd feature some seafood, right? And you know my rule of sensual, sensible, sustainability: first, it has to taste good, then we have to be able to afford it and also we want to be able to consume it without guilt. This recipe sails through with flying colors on all three counts.

This our second guest post is by my friend, author, chef, wiseacre and sustainability soldier: Becky Selengut. Her new book is gorgeous, inspiring and dying to come live on your bookshelf.

I love what Becky is about, how she cooks, her razor sharp wit and her joie de vivre. Joie de Vivre sounds a little too white-gloves-and-party-manners, though. She's one of those women that we used to call "a great broad." Something I aspire to be. Smart and quick, a good drinker and a good sport. My Journalism prof in school wanted me to pursue writing and described me as very similar to his favorite journalist, a great broad by the name of Joan if memory serves. Wonder what the current equivalent of "a great broad" is? Hmm...

Anyway, I knew that if Becky agreed to a guest post, we'd get a fun, salty story. She doesn't disappoint.

Photo credit: Clare Barboza

Calamari or Squid and Hypocrites

Guest Post: Becky Selengut

When I told my friend I was including squid recipes in my book, she wrinkled her nose and gave me a judgy look. “Have you even tried squid?” I asked, my eyebrows hitting the ceiling as I mustered my most condescending expression. “Ick. Never,” she said, “though there was once some calamari I had in the Riviera that I looooved.”

I blinked 4 times in pained, slow motion succession.

“You realize squid and calamari are the same thing, dumbass” I said.  “No,” she countered, “they’re not. Squid is disgusting and calamari is Italian and Awesome.”

I couldn’t even be bothered to blink at that, so I just stared at her until my eyes dried up and fell out.

Whether you call it squid or calamari matters not in how fabulous it is, marinated in a spicy, gingery and tart tamarind bath and then quickly caramelized on a hot grill.  Squid is a low cost and sustainable seafood option and a ridiculously simple dinner.  To your friends who claim they don’t have time to cook or can’t afford going out to restaurants I say: grab a few chunks of wood briquettes, a kettle grill and a pound of squid.  While you can substitute lemon for the bright acidity of tamarind, most supermarkets carry it these days and it really does give the squid a unique depth, so don’t be lazy.

Feed this to your judgy friend and gloat while she chokes on her Eurocentric hypocrisy.

Grilled squid (calamari) with tamarind and orange

Primum non nocere. First, do no harm. All medical students are taught this, and I am of the opinion that it should also be taught in culinary schools. In medicine, sometimes the cure can do more damage than the sickness, and similarly, overzealous culinary students and chefs can sometimes do more damage to food than if they had simply let the poor ingredient be. I’m a big fan of sauce, don’t get me wrong, but some foods shine the brightest when prepared the most simply. Great ingredients don’t require heroic culinary interventions.

Serves 4

1 teaspoon minced shallot

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon minced Serrano chile (seeds left in)

1 orange (1 teaspoon zest and 2 tablespoons juice)

2 teaspoons tamarind paste

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pound squid bodies, cleaned* – skin removed

1 teaspoon minced fresh mint

Maldon or gray salt as optional garnish


Mix together shallot, ginger, serrano, orange zest, orange juice, tamarind, salt and 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl. Pour over squid bodies and marinate for 30 minutes.  Heat a grill over high heat (you could also do this on a grill pan).  When the grill is very hot, oil the grates well and lay 1/2 the squid on the grates.  Weigh down immediately with a cast iron skillet (or similar heavy heat-proof pan). Grill for 1 1/2 minutes until you see grill marks. Flip and weigh again with skillet and grill for another 30 seconds to a minute.  Remove and repeat < script src="plugins/editors/tinymce/jscripts/tiny_mce/themes/advanced/langs/en.js" type="text/javascript"> with the rest of the squid.

Lay the grilled squid out on a small platter and drizzle the rest of the extra virgin olive oil over the top. Squeeze some more orange juice over the top and sprinkle the mint and some Maldon or gray sea salt over the pieces of squid.

Wine pairing: An Albariño, such as Abacela 2009, Umpqua Valley, Oregon, or a Grüner Veltliner


*Go to for a video demonstration of cleaning whole squid.

Recipe from Good Fish: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast (Sasquatch 2011)

Chef Becky Selengut,,

You can support an indie writer (me), an indie bookstore (Powell's) and a great chef (Becky.) Click on the cover to buy.


➊ Check out our first BBQ Bonanza '11 guest post: Vinegary Herbed Goat Skewers, by Mark Scarbrough and Bruce Weinstein, authors of Goat: Meat, Milk Cheese.

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BBQ BONANZA '11 is sponsored by:

Click on the logo to visit their site.

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