I walked through the Korean Festival in Los Angeles and it was a market place full of anxious Korean people looking to sell their homemade food, products, etc as quickly as possible. They were trying to negotiate with me to sell me teas, packages of dried fish and every possible type of Korean delicacy you can imagine. I loved every minute. One of my favorite ingredients used in Korean cooking is red pepper paste or gochujang. It has a deep, spicy flavor that has a slow burn when you add it to a sauce. I use it my Korean wings recipe and I find that I use it at least once a week.
Typically, with Korean dishes like this, it is accompanied by rice. Although I love rice and it helps break up the spicy protein….I wanted to find a way to work in a healthy carb with even more protein…so I brought in quinoa. If you can…invest in a rice cooker. I can leave it and forget it. I don’t have to worry about burning because it’s on a timer, etc and it doesn’t take much space. I buy the pearl colored quinoa, so I can turn it any color I want. It is also softer and cooks in less time than the rainbow and red quinoa…although those are also other fantastic choices to add color to any dish. My quinoa usually turns a yellow shade, because in the rice cooker, I add chicken broth along with my simple spices (salt, pepper, cayenne).
You can combine colorful vegetables if you wish, but I made this dish very simple. I made the sauce, heated it up, added the calamari tentacles…and sprinkled the top with white sesame seeds and green onions. The spicy calamari is soft and tender and the well seasoned quinoa adds a heartiness and is full of flavor.
Korean Calamari w/Quinoa
1/2 cup pearl quinoa
1 cup chicken broth
salt & pepper
7 oz baby squid tentacles and rings
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tbsp red pepper paste or gochujang
2 tbsp sherry
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 scallions sliced (green part only)
2 tbsp sesame seeds
Pour the quinoa, salt & pepper and chicken broth in the rice cooker and hit the button for “white rice”. If you don’t have a rice cooker, follow the directions and cook the quinoa for about 20 minutes (until the squiggles appear from each grain).
In a bowl, add the calamari and pour the vinegar on top of it and mix it together to allow it to absorb. This will make it tender.
Place the wok on the stove and put it on medium to high heat.
In a separate bowl, combine the red pepper paste, sherry, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil until everything is dissolved. Drain the rice vinegar from the calamari into the bowl of the sauce and mix it all together.
Place the sauce in the hot wok, then add the calamari. Cook until the tentacles shrink (a few minutes on medium to high heat). Do not allow the consistency to become chewy…it needs to be tender.
Spoon out the yellow quinoa and place the calamari on top of it. Sprinkle sesame seeds and green onions on top for a pop of color! Enjoy!!!