Everyone’s favorite vegetable as a little child mixed with a seafood ingredient most don’t eat unless deep-fried & dunked in marinara. Weird sounding, isn’t it? Variations of this combination – squid and celery – can be found on many authentic Chinese menus. The Japanese izakaya takes the dish one step closer towards Westernization, thanks to the inclusion of garlic butter.
What makes this dish for me is the use of Chinese celery and its vibrant leaves. You can substitute with regular celery, but you will forfeit much. Chinese celery’s texture is intoxicating. It is thinner, hollow, and crisper than regular celery. Additionally, its more delicate taste and the beautiful vegetal overtones from the leaves bring this dish into the realm of addictive, chopstick fare.
- Cook quickly and over high heat
- Chinese celery should maintain its addictive crunchy-like texture
- Squid should not be over-chewy, but pleasantly succulent
- The squid and celery will exude some (potentially murky) liquid while cooking. Do not fret, it’s absolutely delicious
Squid and Chinese Celery Recipe
Ingredients (serves 2-4)
- 0.75 lb cleaned squid, cut into bite-sized pieces the length of your fingers
- 1.5 cups of Chinese celery stalks, cut into bite-sized pieces the length of your fingers
- 0.5 cup Chinese celery leaves
- 1-2 tablespoons garlic butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lemon wedge
- 1 lime wedge
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 stick (4 oz) butter, room temperature
Cooking instructions (1 hour or less cooking time):
First, let’s prepare the garlic butter. Peel your garlic cloves and give them a steady rough chop. Generously season them with salt and using the side of your knife, smash the living daylights out of them. The salt is essential as it helps break the garlic down into the mash. Maintain a diligent rotation of smash, scrape, and chop until you get a mushy garlic mixture. This is much more fun than using a blender. Fold the garlic mash into the room temperature butter. Shape the garlic butter into a log, wrap it in plastic wrapping, and set it aside in the refrigerator for prime time.
Heat a large sauté pan or wok (preferably) over high heat. Pat your squid pieces dry with a paper towel. Once blistering, pour in the olive oil and add the squid. Season with salt and give the squid 1-2 stirs with a wood utensil. After 1 minute, throw in the celery pieces. Stir fry the ingredients for another minute and add the celery leaves. Turn the heat off and add the garlic butter. Toss the squid and celery until the butter melts.
Serve the squid and celery with a piece of lemon and/or lime. I prefer a lime. Enjoy the dish with a healthy bowl of rice. Get after it, nom!