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Wok-Seared Calamari (Squid) With Lemongrass

Inspired by Good Fish by Becky Selengut


Stir-frying is high-heat cooking from start to finish. It is extra important to have all your ingredients ready before you turn on the heat (what the French call mise en place). Be prepared for some active stirring, as the squid is in and out of the hot wok very quickly. By the time the heady scent of the lemongrass has reached your nostrils, the squid is probably done.

Feel free to serve the lemongrass pieces in each person's bowl: just be sure to tell your diners not to eat them outright, unless they are really into a high-fiber diet. Add a little kick by including thinly sliced jalapeños when stirfrying the vegetables.


1 stalk lemongrass
2 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil or macadamia nut oil
1 pound cleaned calamari, tubes cut into rings and tentacles cut in half lengthwise
1/2 small red onion, cut into thin half moons
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup medium-diced red bell pepper
1 tablespoon Thai roasted red chile paste (I like Thai Kitchen's brand)
1/4 cup clam juice
1/2 cup roughly torn fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon fish sauce, plus additional for seasoning
2 medium limes, one juiced, the other cut into wedges for garnish
Cooked rice noodles


Prepare the lemongrass by cutting off the top half of the stalk (where it is thinner and darker); discard this. Trim the very bottom and discard, then cut the stalk into 1-inch lengths. Smack each piece of lemongrass with the side of a knife to help it release its flavor into the dish.

Heat a wok or large saute pan over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the wok, along with the lemongrass. Cook for 1 minute, or until the lemongrass just starts to brown. Add the squid and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or just until the squid ring edges curl up a bit and turn white.

Transfer the squid and lemongrass, along with any juices, to a large bowl and reserve. Wipe the wok clean with a paper towel. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the wok (still at high heat), along with the onions, ginger, bell pepper, and chile paste. Pick the reserved lemongrass from its bowl and add to the wok. Saute, actively stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the onions start to soften. Add any juice that has collected from the squid (but not the squid itself) and the clam juice.

Cook over high heat until there is hardly any liquid left, about 2 minutes. Add the squid, basil, and fish sauce, and cook for 1 more minute. Season to taste with more fish sauce as needed and add the lime juice. Serve immediately, over rice noodles or rice, with lime wedges on the side.

About Becky Selengut

Becky Selengut is a private chef, author (Washington Local and Seasonal Cookbook, Good Fish), columnist (Edible Seattle) and cooking teacher. She worked for 3 years at the internationally acclaimed Herbfarm Restaurant under her mentor, Chef Jerry Traunfeld before setting out on her own to start Cornucopia, her private chef and education business.

She's at work on her third cookbook, "Shroom: Mind-bendingly good recipes for wild and cultivated mushrooms" (Andrews McMeel Fall 2014).

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