Too cold for a BBQ you say? Pah! Never. Well, not yet anyway. There’s nothing like flinging a few good things on a hot Weber to chase away the winter blues, and good things were in abundance as we chowed our way through these enormous steaks, some spectacular sausages, a smoky baba ganoush, a rack of sticky jerk ribs and my contribution: Thai style stuffed squids.
When researching the recipe I discovered that stuffing squid with pork mince is actually a Vietnamese preparation but I had some galangal, coriander and lime leaves hanging around so Thai-style it was. To lighten the stuffing I also added breadcrumbs soaked in milk (as you would for an Italian meatball), which might seem a bit odd but was designed to avoid ending up with an overly heavy and coarse mixture, what with it being a BBQ and therefore an exercise in maximising stomach capacity. I actually added a bit too much in the end which I thought made it overly loose but everyone else told me to stop fretting and rein in the pedantry.
The most important thing to bear in mind when preparing your squid is that one should not over-stuff. The squid shrinks when cooking and if you’ve too much pig jammed in, then there can only be one result and that is a big porky mess. I’d pre-cooked the filling so we simply rubbed with oil, seasoned and grilled until golden on each side; just enough time for the filling to heat through and the squid to stay delightfully bouncy and toothsome. The tentacles were also given the appropriate amount of respect; we saw no better way to treat them than seasoning highly and draping across the searing hot grill until the suckers were curled and crispy-tipped.
At 7pm, when two layers of clothing were no longer enough to keep out the chill and the wind kept blowing out the candles, we admitted defeat and retired to the sofas for cheese, gin and a bit of inebriated shouting at the telly. Winter BBQ’s rock.
Thai-style Stuffed Squid
6 squid (on the small side of medium), cleaned
350g minced pork
2 tablespoons fish sauce (plus more to taste)
2 fat spring onions (green parts only), finely sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
2 crushed garlic cloves,grated
1/2 inch piece galangal, grated
4 lime leaves, finely chopped
2 Thai chillies, finely chopped
1 small handful coriander leaves, finely chopped
2-3 sliced of white bread (crusts removed), soaked in enough milk to make it into a mush when mashed with a fork
Juice of 1 lime (plus another to adjust to taste)
Cocktail sticks, for sealing
First make the filling. Mix the pork mince with all the ingredients except the fish sauce, lime juice and coriander. Add this mixture to a pan over a fairly gentle heat and stir every now and then until cooked through. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely if you will not be cooking the squids right away.
Ensure that each squid is sealed at the thin, pointy end as they can sometimes have a hole. If this is the case, secure with a cocktail stick before stuffing each with the pork mixture. Take care not to overstuff the squids as they will shrink during cooking. Secure the end with another cocktail stick.
To cook the squid, rub each with oil and season lightly then grill until golden on each side.