A spicy, bright calamari salad that just is the perfect appetizer. Done right, the squid is almost buttery, the ginger snappy, the chile warm and the cucumbers and tomatoes cool. Braising is the best way to cook squid if you're worried about making it tender. Slow-braised squid becomes tender and delicious. Many people dislike squid, but if you like it, this salad is for you. It's very fresh, light, elegant, yet filling. —Kukla
4 to 6 as an appetizer
For braised Calamari and stir-fried Bok Choy
• 1 pound cleaned squid tubes, sliced in ¼-inch rings
• 1 finely chopped shallot
• 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1 small hot chile, such as Cayenne or Thai, sliced into very thin rings
• 1-inch piece of peeled ginger, sliced into very thin strips, as thin as you can make them
• 1 teaspoon ground coriander
• 4 tablespoons light oil, divided
• 1/2 cup Dry Sherry
• 1 cup chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium purchased
• 1 teaspoon coarse salt
• About 12 oz head bok choy, cut into ½-inch slices, white and green separated, a few leaves reserved for garnish
For the dressing and salad
• 2 tablespoons soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons unflavored rice vinegar
• 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, mint or basil
• 1 peeled medium English cucumber, sliced into thin rounds
Rinse the squid well under cold water; make sure the insides of the tubes are clean; pat dry them and then slice.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy pot over low heat. When the oil is hot add shallot, chile, garlic, ginger and coriander. Cook stirring with a wooden spoon until starts to sizzle, about 4 minutes.
Increase heat to medium and add squid, then cook, stirring, until squid is barely opaque, about 1 minute. Add wine and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes.
Add chicken stock and salt; simmer on medium-low, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until squid is very tender and the cooking liquid is almost evaporated, 30 to 35 minutes; transfer it to a plate and let cool.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat; add white part of bok choy and stir-fry until beginning to soften, about 3- 4 minutes.
Add green part of bok choy, sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Stir-fry until bok choy is wilted, about 2 minutes; transfer to another plate and let cool. (The braising of squid and stir-frying of bok choy can be made a couple hours ahead).
For the dressing and salad
Whisk soy sauce, vinegar, oil and honey in a large bowl until well blended. Add the braised squid, bok choy and cilantro; mix well until everything is combined.
Just before serving, arrange the reserved bok choy leaves on a serving platter. Put the squid salad on top of the lettuce and surround with cucumber slices and tomato halves. Sprinkle with some fresh lemon or lime juice and fresh cilantro leaves.