In the Chinese language, the phrase “prosperity through the years” is a homonym to “having fish every year,” so it’s little wonder that the Chinese celebratory feast traditionally includes dishes starring the sea’s generous gifts. Stuffed dishes, too, are a vital element of the holiday table, particularly during the Chinese New Year, with a customary assortment of dumplings and spring rolls speaking of abundance and good fortune.
Paying homage to both traditions, a platter of colourful stuffed squid is a refreshingly piquant addition to the New Year banquet. Simply steamed to bring out its distinctive texture and ocean-scented freshness, the delicate squid wraps around a filling of ham and vegetables set in a savory, sesame-tinged fish paste. When sliced, the ham and vegetable cubes resemble festive jewels studding the bright white rounds — perfect for dressing up a meal that invites a prosperous year to come.
Ingredients (6 to 8 servings):
2 squids (about 45 cm)
a stem of broccoli
2 cups of filling: ham and vegetable mix (green beans, corn, chopped carrot) (240 g)
For the fish paste:
⅓ cup tapioca
2 tbs. sesame oil (28g)
1 tsp. white pepper (2g)
1¼ tsp. salt (6g)
For the pepper-seasoned salt:
1 tbs. white pepper, 1 tbs. salt, mix together.
1. Cut the sailfish into small pieces and freeze for two hours. Wash the broccoli and cut it into florets.
2. Remove the heads and guts of the squids. Remove the fins, peel skins, and rinse.
3. Using a food processor, blend the frozen sailfish into a paste. Combine the tapioca and water, and add in the rest of the fish paste ingredients.
4. Combine the blended fish paste and the ham and vegetable mix, and stuff the squids with the mixture. Secure the squids with toothpicks.
5. Preheat the steamer, and steam the squid for 12 minutes on low heat. Add the broccoli florets and steam for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from steamer and slice into rounds. Arrange the slices around the broccoli as shown. Top with sliced lemon and drizzle with the lemon juice. Serve and eat with the pepper-seasoned salt.
Fish paste can be made from many types of fish. Fish containing little bone is recommended. Fish paste is also available prepared from Asian supermarkets. Squid skin may be peeled or left on.