Squid and Endive Salad with Ginger Vinaigrette

Ika no Shōga Su Aé

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Serves

    3-4

    as an appetizer

Appears in

Several varieties of squid and cuttlefish are regularly available throughout the year in Japan. In the colder months mongō ika, or giant thick-fleshed cuttlefish, appears on many menus and tables, while in the spring and summer, slender, petite yari ika is at its best. This dish is fine made with either variety—the thicker cuttlefish can be cut into highly decorative curlicues; the thinner squid is best cut into julienne strips.

Ingredients

Dressing

  • cup rice vinegar
  • tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon usukuchi shōyu (light soy sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger juice (extracted from grated fresh ginger)
  • 4 small squid, about 3 ounces each, or 1 large block frozen cleaned cuttlefish, about 10-12 ounces (see step 2)
  • 2 teaspoons saké (Japanese rice wine)
  • 1 small head Belgian endive
  • 1 small head radicchio lettuce

Method

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, and light soy sauce. Heat it over a low flame, stirring, until the sugar and salt have completely dissolved. Cool the mixture to room temperature, then add the ginger juice and stir.
  2. The thick-fleshed cuttlefish is usually sold frozen as already cleaned blocks of sashimi quality; defrost it in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. If you buy whole small squid, either have the fishmarket clean them for you or do it yourself: Pull the sac with legs attached out and away from the body. Slice away and discard the sac, reserving the legs if you like for use in either Lacy Seafood Pancakes or Broth with Squid and Vegetables. Pull the “quill” out from the body of the squid and discard. Repeat to clean all the squid.
  4. Slit the bodies of the small squid so they can lie flat in a triangular configuration. The inner surface (the one with the ridges from where the “quill” used to be) should be facing down on your cutting board. Slice the squid on the diagonal into ⅛-inch-thick strips.
  5. If you are using the thick-fleshed cuttlefish, add a decorative pattern to the snowy white flesh: Holding a very sharp long-bladed knife at a 45-degree angle to the cuttlefish, slash it in many diagonal strokes. Then cut the cuttlefish into strips on the diagonal in the opposite direction of the slashes, so that they will later open up and create attractive curlicue forms.
  6. Toss the squid or cuttlefish strips in 1 teaspoon of the rice wine.
  7. Bring a saucepan of water to a rolling boil and add the other teaspoon of rice wine to it. Drop the squid or cuttlefish strips into the water, stirring to keep them from sticking to each other. Blanch the squid for 45 seconds or until the water returns to a boil, whichever comes first. Blanch the cuttlefish for 10 seconds after the water returns to a boil. Do not overcook the squid or cuttlefish. Drain the squid or cuttlefish immediately and toss it in the dressing. Chill for 5-10 minutes.
  8. Cut the endive into thin julienne strips. Toss these into the dressing with the squid, and mix well. Trim and rinse the radicchio leaves.
  9. To assemble the salad, place radicchio leaves on each of three or four plates. Divide the squid and endive into three or four portions, and mound it on the leaves.

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