Thursday, August 19, 2010

Grilled squid (烤魷魚)

Grilled squid

Squid is great (despite my body's every intention to tell me any different). You can use it in dishes, you can fry the bejeezus out of squid tentacles and make them into nuggets (like chicken nuggets on crack... except not made of chicken), and you can grill it whole too! From any of a number of stalls along the 淡水 waterfront, you can get squid, grilled whole, and slathered with a sweet, savory, and tangy sauce, all for 50 NT ($1.50)... what's not to love?

Actually... plenty. Keep in mind everything I say here is purely my own opinion, so if you're a fanatic who swears by eating this stuff, then I'm sorry... I just don't like it. Taiwanese people love this stuff though, so I'm sure it has some redeeming quality that I'm unaware of. Anyway, the smell of grilled squid is... unpleasant. If you've ever burned an eraser before (let's be honest, I burned many an eraser as a kid), it smells kind of like that. Rubber... that's on fire. Easily one of my top 10 most unappetizing smells (not that I've made a list or anything, but I assume it'd be in there).

Grilled squid cart

Secondly, squid also gets super difficult to chew when grilled, achieving the consistency of... well, an eraser. Maybe this is my fault, because the kind lady from the stall offered to cut it into strips for me, but I said no, because I wanted to take a picture. Hrm... okay that's definitely my fault, but moving on. Reason number 3 why grilled squid isn't so phenomenal... it lacks any distinct taste, and just feels kind of rubbery (on second thought, maybe I just ate a grilled squid shaped eraser?). In truth though, the only thing that was remotely satisfying about grilled squid as the sauce. Similar to a mix between the panda sauce, ketchup, and a slight bit of chili paste, it was sweet, tangy, and spicy... as advertised. Basically? I paid 50 NT to lick sauce off an eraser. I'm still not really sure why people like this nonsense.

Fried shrimp wonton thingers

I don't like to make entire posts about fail though, so I'll add these too. They're fried shrimp wonton things called 炸蝦捲 (zha xia juan). This skewer cost 20 NT (~60 cents), so I wouldn't even care if it tasted like a fried eraser, because it's fried, so it's already full of win. Thankfully, it tasted like if you wrapped shrimp and pork inside a wonton and fried it, which you can't really mess up. On top of that though, since 淡水 is a seaport and all, the ingredients are incredibly fresh, and these are made on the spot, so it's like a supercharged version of restaurant wontons... plus shrimp and pork.


Danny said...

i didn't know you could deep fry squid, but now that's kind of on my list to try. i'm one of those people that would probably like grilled squid, even as it tastes like eraser. but yea, braised squid is way better... super soft...

Nicholas said...

It's a hazy line between giant squid and octopus in Taiwan, as they seem to use 章魚 and 魷魚 interchangeably at times. It's mainly tentacles cut into bite sized segments, battered, and fried until they look respectable in size (the actual meat is tiny).

More power to ya if you wanna try eating eraser... I mean grilled squid. The sauce is actually good enough to make me not so angry about it. I personally like squid in soup the best.

Pro-Portional said...

Oh god let me at those tentacles!
And that price - you're right. It can't be beat!

Rodzilla said...

I've had some pretty chewy pieces of fried calamari, and still enjoyed them...but eraser doesn't sound too great.

Nicholas said...

Pro-Portional - tentacle fail :( yeah, I was pretty disappointed after seeing how boss it looked.

Rodzilla - I think I have a skewed view of food. What other people mike called distinct character, I call eraser. To each his own I guess :p

Lingbo said...

Ah, tentacle love... that looks delectable. I love your photographs, btw!

Nicholas said...

Lingbo - don't be deceived! Twas not... :( I'd pay handsomely for the sauce though... hrm

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