Squid ‘n Play

Squidkick

As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, Adobo is the Filipino method for cooking anything in a mixture of vinegar, salt (and/or soy), garlic, black peppercorns, and bay leaf. Any good Filipino adobo should have that perfect balance of tang and saltiness. Now mind you, this "balance" of vinegar and salt is purely subjective of course. But having prepared a few different adobos for this blog, I’ve been able to refine my palate bit by bit and have begun to develop my own preference for what a good adobo should taste like.

As such, I can now crank out a delicious pot of chicken adobo at the drop of a hat with nary a glance at any printed recipe. Preparing chicken adobo has become second nature to me. The problem with this though, is that I was becoming a one-trick pony.

To me, knowing how to cook only chicken adobo is like knowing only one kind of dance. Sure, the Running Man may make you the life of the party for maybe the first couple of songs, but after awhile, the once-awed crowd will realize that the Running Man is pretty basic and they’ll surely stop yelling your name and telling you it’s your birthday.

What’s that you say? Nobody does the Running Man anymore? Really? OK, how about the Cabbage Patch? No, again? Crap.

Alright, so maybe I’m horribly out of touch with the moves of today’s house party goers, but you get the point right? There are many other types of adobo besides that of the chicken variety. Yes, I’ve made a pork ribs adobo before, but the procedure for that recipe is essentially the same for any chicken adobo recipe.  I wanted to try something else. And since chicken and pork were done, the next logical adobo for me to try was squid adobo, or Adobong Pusit as it’s known in the Philippines. And, depending on where you are in the Philippines, squid adobo may actually be more popular than chicken or pork.

If chicken adobo is akin to the Running Man, then Squid adobo is like the Kid ‘n Play–awesome when done right, but downright grotesque otherwise.  As such, learning to cook squid adobo is like learning to do the Kid ‘n Play–dedicate enough time to either activity and you are bound to impress all the ladies (well, at least the ones that enjoy adobo and/or cutting a rug).

Don’t believe me? Here’s proof…

Ah, House Party. It’s a classic.

I may have been out of touch with my whole Running Man analogy, but when expressing themselves through the majesty of dance, I’m sure the youngsters of today are still working in a little bit of that ol’ kick step! And how!

What?!! The Superman? What the hell is that?

Anyhoo, before putting my Adobong Pusit together, I first had to figure out how to clean whole squid. I’ve never worked with squid before, so I was a bit worried about that aspect. 

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Most, if not all, of the squid adobos I’ve eaten in the past consisted of squid tentacles and whole squid bodies (as opposed to the body being cut into rings).  But I wanted my adobo to be as easy to eat as possible, so I decided to cut the squid bodies into rings.

Then there’s the issue of the squid ink. Traditionally, squid ink is added to the adobo to enrich and darken the sauce.

Inksack

If you’ve got the time, you can harvest the squid’s ink sack from its entrails by gently pulling away the dark, vein-like sack with a knife.  You can then add these harvested ink sacks to the adobo.  Ideally, squid ink shouldn’t emit any off flavors or smells–the fresher the squid the better the squid ink.

Although cleaning squid does take a bit of time, it turns out that squid is actually very easy to clean and prepare.  All you have to do is grab it by the head and…

Hey, you smell something? I do. I smell, I smell, I smell PUSIT!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you clean and disassemble a squid! Full Force!

After taking apart a couple of pounds of squid, the rest of the squid adobo process is quick and easy since the whole shebang cooks relatively fast. It should be noted that cooking squid can be a bit tricky.  If squid is cooked quickly (a couple of minutes), it will turn out very tender.  If squid is cooked long and slow (over an hour), it will also still turn out very tender.  But when squid is cooked somewhere between the range of a couple of minutes and an hour (say 5-50 minutes or so), then you’ve got some rubbery and chewy calamari on your hands. Strange, but true. So, for very tender squid, cook for only a few minutes or for more than an hour, nothing in between!

Since I cut up my squid, I stuck to the quick cooking method for my Adobong Pusit recipe.  Compared to the other adobos I’ve tackled previously, this squid adobo is by far the easiest I’ve yet to prepare. I find that caramelizing some onions and adding a bit of brown sugar provide just enough sweetness to balance out the vinegar and soy. And after cooking the squid for only a few minutes, the tentacles and rings are rendered very tender, yet still retain a nice difference in texture.

The finished squid adobo was so dang tasty even my wife was impressed. But for some reason she refuses to go dancing with me. Strange, that.

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Squid Adobo (Adobong Pusit)

2 lbs. fresh whole squid
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large red onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2/3 cup distilled vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
squid ink (optional)

Clean the squid, separate the tentacles, and cut the bodies into 1-inch thick rings.  Harvest the squid ink by removing the ink sacks and placing in a small container.  Cover squid and set aside in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add the onions and saute until edges start to brown and caramelize, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic, pepper, bay leaves, and sugar and continue to cook for 1 minute more.

Add the vinegar, soy, water, and ink (if desired) to the pan, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered until sauce is slightly reduced, about 15-20 minutes.

Add the the squid to the pan, and simmer for 2-3 minutes until squid is tender. Remove from heat and serve immediately over steamed rice.

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  • manggy March 27, 2008, 11:16 pm

    I say, that looks a whole lot better than any adobong pusit I’ve had before– taste aside, the ink makes it look really unattractive, I think. Nice shots.
    I love the video touches. I’ve not heard of the Kid’n’Play dance till Tina Fey did it on 30 Rock :)

    Reply
  • Katrina March 28, 2008, 2:38 am

    I agree with Manggy — that’s the first time I’ve seen adobong pusit look attractive. But then, it’s also the first time I’ve seen adobong pusit without the black squid ink sauce, which is why I was surprised you said it was optional. Does it taste as good? Without the ink, wouldn’t it taste just like regular adobo sauce? As unappetizing as it may look (not to mention, the scary smile you get after eating it), I like the flavor of squid ink sauces, whether in adobo, paella, or pasta.

    Reply
  • Babette March 28, 2008, 3:17 am

    Oohh, Marvin, you are getting daring in the kitchen. LOL :)
    I prefer the adobong pusit with the dark sauce. I wish I can buy a whole squid with the ink sack still intact here in New England. For some reason, the squid I get here does not have enough ink on them to make the rich, black sauce I’m used to in the Philippines. Everytime I cook adobong pusit, I get a sauce that is purple/brownish in color.
    :(
    I’ve read somewhere that there is a squid ink paste that you can purchase, I think it’s imported from Spain.

    Reply
  • TeddyKim March 28, 2008, 7:33 am

    Wow, does that bring back memories! Ah, to be a child of the 80’s and 90’s. I’m netflixing House Party now just because of this. Switch!!!
    And I enjoyed your video and pictures of the squid. Very informative.

    Reply
  • dp March 28, 2008, 8:05 am

    Don’t try to market squid rings…I don’t think they will go over very well. LOL
    Now you’ve got me inspired to so something with squid! I haven’t had it in so long.

    Reply
  • Ed March 28, 2008, 8:53 am

    Don’t forget the Roger Rabbit – oh snap, I’m showing my age as well!
    And squid adobo – mmmm…

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  • Chase Hudson March 28, 2008, 9:20 am

    A squirter? Terrible. I guess when fishing for squid, you can shout “There’s a squirter!”
    Oh, and for dance moves, peep this:
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=dMH0bHeiRNg

    Reply
  • raissa March 28, 2008, 10:08 am

    wow! very impressive. I am not so fond of adobong pusit because they put the ink and I dont like it. I prefer it grilled, fried or broiled. But your adobong pusit really looks good. I want to try this recipe.
    I agree, cooking squid is tricky. Too much its rubbery, too soon, its too soft and runny.
    I prefer the insides taken out. Not a lot of people do that.
    woohoo running man brings back memories. I agree what the heck is a superman??

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  • chiffOnade March 28, 2008, 10:28 am

    Here in our Florida trailer park we (“Big Bear” and I) eat some strange stuff. But SQUID???
    Never, ever in this lifetime.
    Even though I am a professional chef who attended Peter Kump’s Culinary Institute, I know better than to put something that ugly in my mouth.

    Reply
  • Wandering Chopsticks March 28, 2008, 12:27 pm

    So is squid ink pasta next? :)
    Reminds me of the braised squid my mom used to make. I haven’t had that in soooo long.

    Reply
  • Julie March 28, 2008, 12:42 pm

    That’s not a squid–THIS is a squid: http://squid.us/category/humboldt-squid/
    But your squid looks tastier.

    Reply
  • desie the maybahay March 28, 2008, 2:33 pm

    marvin, i love your adventurous nature. i haven’t been game enough to cook adobong pusit though i absolutely love eating. yours looks great.
    after seeing your video, though, i can almost hear you say PUH-SEAT. it’s Pooh-sit, ok? 😉

    Reply
  • dhanggit March 28, 2008, 11:08 pm

    i’ve tasted adobong pusit during my last trip to palawan..;i must admit your photos look definitely delicious than the one we had..love that two photos!! they are beautifully taken :-)
    btw, kudos for a guy who knows how to deal with squid!!hehehehe

    Reply
  • Sara March 29, 2008, 1:19 pm

    Dude, you’re my hero. Seriously. My lola is super-old and didn’t use actual measured-out recipes to make her adobo or sinigang or whatever. This makes things much easier.
    – sara

    Reply
  • prac March 30, 2008, 12:39 pm

    You are fast becoming my favorite food blogger! Your posts always give me a smile or a laugh, plus some new info and stuff to think about.
    I have a little critique, though: in the video I found the music too loud compared to your voice. I had to turn the volume up when you were talking and turn it down when the music came up. I hope you’ll do more videos in the future (maybe even showing your face?) :)

    Reply
  • Cynthia March 30, 2008, 7:44 pm

    My heart is beating with passionate love for this dish :)

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  • oggi March 30, 2008, 8:06 pm

    I love squid…tentacles, innards, ink and all…adobo or marinated in toyomansi then grilled, yum.
    The close-up photos of the cooked squids are wonderful!

    Reply
  • Mila March 30, 2008, 8:59 pm

    I love the black, inky squiddy adobo, makes your tongue and lips look a bit like a goth. Full of garlic, with a hint of vinegar to balance out the flavor. Baby squid especially, for sweet tender meat. I eat the body first then tackle all the chewy tentacles after. Lots of white rice to sop up the black sauce.

    Reply
  • Jen Tan March 31, 2008, 2:19 am

    Hey Marvin! That looks delish! I sooo love squid….and I like adobo too. Adobo anything is just yummmy…chicken, pork, liver (yeah I love liver!hahah), eggs…

    Reply
  • elmomonster March 31, 2008, 1:53 pm

    You went all out on this one man…analogies to long forgotten hip hop groups, dance moves and a freakin’ video starring yourself! BRAVO!

    Reply
  • White On Rice Couple March 31, 2008, 5:21 pm

    Oh Bourdain would love this video too! Ya should have added some of this in your FAN-atic video too, he love this stuff.
    This is food porn at it’s best! Look at those delicious tenticles, so tender , so satisying! Carina has not made me any Squid adobo yet! I’ll make a personal request.
    As a child, I had to clean these slimy things, it was a nightmare. But as an adult, I totally rely on those childhood skills. I actually even wrote an essay on it linked on my side bar as “Her Comforts”. Check it out! :)

    Reply
  • joey April 1, 2008, 7:31 am

    That is probably the best photo of adobong pusit I have ever seen! Hmmm…this has never been a favorite of mine, but now I’m thinking I might actually like it better this way, without the ink…
    What a coincidence…I just made adobo tonight (pork though not squid)…I have no doubt that you have made adobo a trillion times more than me :)

    Reply
  • Burnt Lumpia April 2, 2008, 3:48 pm

    Hi manggy. I must’ve missed that 30 Rock, I don’t remember seeing that.
    Hello Katrina. Without the ink, the sauce does indeed taste a bit different–it’s still very squiddy;) I pretty much left the squid ink out just based on laziness, but I still think its as good, probably not as traditional though, without the ink.
    squid ink paste? I’ve never heard of that Babette, but that would make things a lot easier!
    Thanks TK. The ’80s and ’90s were good times!
    You’re right, dp. Squid rings would definitely be a terrible fasion statement;)
    Ah, the Roger Rabbit! Another classic, Ed!
    Thanks for that vid, Chase. Very entertaining.
    Hi Raissa! I like grilled squid as well, though I’ve never tried to make it myself. Perhaps I’ll try that soon.
    Thanks Chiffonade.
    Maybe a squid ink risotto down the road, WC.
    Holy MotherEFF! That IS a squid, Julie! I would be afraid of those things.
    I didn’t say Puh-seat in my vid, did I desie? And yes, although my Tagalog is terrible, I do say pooh-sit;)
    Thanks dhanggit!
    Thanks Sara, but I’m sure your lola is a much better cook than I am;)
    Thanks very much, prac! And sorry about the volume, I’m still very new at the whole video thing and I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ll make note of the volume issue if I ever do another video again, but I’ll try and keep my face out of it;)
    Awwww, thanks Cynthia.
    Marinated in toyomansi and then grilled, that sounds awesome oggi.
    You make it sound so good, Mila!
    Egg adobo, Jen? I didn’t know about that.
    Thanks elmo. But I think I’ma chill on the vids for a while, they take forever to edit on my old slow computer.
    Hi WORC! I couldn’t find the squid essay, but I did see the Pipi Longstocking and Land of the Lost mentions–very cool!
    Hello joey. I doubt very much I’ve made adobo that much more than you, maybe just once or twice more:P

    Reply
  • toni April 4, 2008, 6:11 am

    Awesome video!!! I’m less afraid of preparing dishes with squid now. :)

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  • quiapo April 14, 2008, 5:03 pm

    Video was terrific – clear instructions, so that eeven I would now dare attempt it. However whole small squid is rarely sold here in Australia, though sometimes you can get it from the fishin boats. What we have are large, cleaned white torsos, but your article has inspired me to try cooking them as Adobo, which I haven’t tried for decades.
    Thanks for your sharng such useful information.

    Reply
  • [eatingclub] vancouver || js April 25, 2008, 4:44 pm

    Wow. Will have to try adobong pusit one of these days.
    Looks very delicious!

    Reply
  • baygost May 9, 2008, 2:33 pm

    I could eat pusit seven days a week if given the chance. I make it once in awhile but it totally smells up the house; A sacrifice to be sure but well worth. I just wish I could get my roomate to get into it.
    When I do make it. I combine it with pork. Yes all that fatty pork and squid and vinegar…yum!
    Love the site, thanks

    Reply
  • Susan October 24, 2008, 1:39 am

    I wished I had your recipe on 10/17!! I decided to cook this for a fellowship and searched the internet for a recipe. The recipe I found didn’t call for the liquid to be reduced like yours which I wanted. I like how you reduced first and then threw the squid in last which prevents rubberizing the squid. Sure would have been easier if I had your recipe but glad to have it now : )

    Reply
  • Burnt Lumpia October 26, 2008, 5:27 pm

    Thanks for visiting my blog Susan. I’m glad you liked the recipe.

    Reply
  • Donna December 3, 2010, 1:50 am

    thanks for the recipe, you rarely find good squid recipes but , i loved it , squid is my favourite!

    Reply
  • HEIDFI May 4, 2011, 9:59 am

    YAH

    Reply
  • Socal October 29, 2012, 2:22 pm

    I have never seen recipes for such exotic fish, this is a very interesting post, I’m glad I read it

    Reply

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