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Culinary capers in Japan

Spicy Marinated Squid

Ika no shiokara (いかの塩辛)
August 25th, 2010 at 8:56

Ika shiokara, or spicy salted squid marinated in its own guts, is a common tsumami offering on Japanese pub menus. Tsumami is a class of dish that’s specifically engineered to complement alcohol. In other words, something with a strong, sometimes knockout flavor that you can nibble as you get wasted. Admittedly, shiokara is an acquired tasted. It has a reputation for being particularly loved by grizzled, alcoholic old men. That doesn’t mean you have to be a retired dock worker to like it, though. But if the pungency happens to bring out your pigtails, eating it with steamed white rice takes off a bit of the edge.

Ingredients:
1 intact squid viscera (as fresh as possible)
1 squid body (trunk), cleaned and skin removed
Salt
Cooking sake
Mirin soy sauce to taste

Look here for instructions about breaking down and cleaning squid. Here’s approximately what your viscera should look like to start out:

Rub the squid viscera with plenty of salt so that it’s completely covered. Place the salted viscera on a flat bamboo strainer and refrigerate for at least one night, but two nights is ideal.

Lightly salt the squid trunk and refrigerate on a plate or tray covered with plastic wrap for one or two nights as well. Some liquid will be drawn out from the body, and this should be drained away periodically.

When the salting is finished, fill a bowl with sake. Wash the salt off the squid viscera in the sake. Don’t use water or you’ll dilute the flavor. Drain, and then press out the contents of the viscera, which should be a thick, reddish-brown goo.

Cut the body portion into thin 2 – 3 cm lengths. Toss with the viscera liquid. Adjust the flavor to suit your taste by adding salt, mirin, soy sauce, etc. Put the mixture into a covered dish and refrigerate overnight. Serve garnished with yuzu citrus rind, scallions, togarashi pepper, etc.

Shiokara can stay in the fridge 2 – 3 weeks, but it’s at its best on the second and third days.

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