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35 mins

The Modern Salad

Referred to as calamari in the Mediterranean, squid is a popular food in many regions of the world because it is inexpensive and versatile. For some, especially those who aren’t familiar with it, calamari can seem unapproachable. Still, I urge you to give it a chance. When prepared well, calamari is an extraordinary ingredient. Just make sure to buy ultra-fresh calamari and ask your fishmonger to clean it for you to save time. For the best sear, thoroughly dry the calamari before lighting your grill. If you still can’t get behind the idea, shrimp can stand in, too.

NOTE: If you’re not up for the task of making kimchi from scratch, you’ll find many excellent varieties sold today.


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© 2024 Elizabeth Howes / Ulysses Press · Reproduced with permission.
  • Step 1

    For the vinaigrette, add the rice vinegar, sesame oil, 1 cup of the kimchi, filtered water, salt, and pepper to a blender, and pulse until well combined. With the motor running, slowly stream in 1⁄2 cup of the grapeseed oil until emulsified. Transfer to a glass jar, and refrigerate for up to a week.

    Preheat the grill, grill pan, or heavy skillet over high heat. Toss the calamari with salt, pepper, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil. If the squid pieces are on the smaller side, you may want to place them in a fish basket or utilize one of the indoor cooking methods so they don’t fall through the grates. Place the calamari tubes on the hot grill, and weigh them down with a heavy skillet. Allow to cook, undisturbed, for 1 or 2 minutes, or until grill marks form. Turn over for another 1 or 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and slice into thin strips.

    To cook the tentacles, place them directly on the grates, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side, or until the ends become slightly charred, then turn over and cook for another 1 or 2 minutes. Roughly chop or leave whole.

    Toss the calamari, cabbage, cucumber, watercress, lemon zest, and chives with the desired amount of vinaigrette in a large serving bowl. Garnish with fresh basil, the remaining 1⁄4 cup of kimchi, chile flakes, Maldon salt, and pepper.

  • Step 2

    Spicy Kimchi
    I once heard a Korean woman poetically describe how chile peppers should “splash smoothly across the tongue.” For kimchi, at least, I have to agree. Tolerably hot, with an earthy, fruity, and slightly smoky flavor, Korean red chile flakes, called gochugaru, are the star ingredient in this recipe. Aleppo chile is a good substitution, however. I included dried bonito flakes and, as a nod to my Hungarian roots, smoked paprika in this modern version.

    NOTE: Making kimchi from scratch requires some patience and time. It would be easy for me to say it is worth it. The real evidence came from watching several friends devour this kimchi, straight out of the jar, while standing over my kitchen sink.


    1 large Napa cabbage (about 5 pounds)
    1 cup coarse sea salt or kosher salt, divided
    7 cups filtered water, divided
    1 tablespoon Sticky Rice Powder (page 83)
    1⁄2 cup gochugaru chile pepper flakes
    2 tablespoons dried bonito flakes
    1⁄2 sheet dried untoasted seaweed (nori), roughly broken into pieces
    2 tablespoons fish sauce

    1 teaspoon smoked paprika

    3 tablespoons grated ginger

    4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

    1 tablespoon maple syrup, grade B

    1⁄2 cup roughly chopped scallions

    1 pound daikon radish, julienned (optional)
    1⁄4 cup julienned Asian pear, (optional)

    sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

    To prepare the cabbage, carefully cut it into quarters lengthwise ensuring the stem remains intact. Dissolve 1⁄2 cup of the coarse or kosher salt in a large bowl filled with 6 cups of the filtered water. Soak each quarter of the cabbage in the salted water individually, for about 1 to 2 minutes, before shaking the excess water back into the bowl.

    Use the remaining 1⁄2 cup of salt to generously sprinkle over each cabbage quarter, beginning with the outer leaf and working inward. Place each quarter in another large bowl, and pour the water from the original salt bath over the top. Set aside for at least 5 hours, preferably 8 hours, or until the white leaves are soft.

    Rinse thoroughly, removing the salt from each leaf, and drain well. Set aside while you make the kimchi mixture.

    Place the sticky rice powder in a small saucepan with about 1⁄2 cup of the filtered water, and bring to a boil. This will happen quickly. Once boiling, lower the heat and, stirring occasionally, simmer until a thick paste is reached, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and allow to cool.

    Add the cooled rice powder paste along with the chile pepper flakes, dried bonito flakes, nori, fish sauce, paprika, ginger, garlic, and maple syrup to a food processor. Add the remaining 1⁄2 cup of the filtered water, and pulse until combined, scraping down the sides as you go. The mixture should be a little chunky. Transfer to a large bowl, and toss with the scallions and, if using, the radish and pear. Taste for salt, and adjust if needed. The mixture should be overly salty for the best finished result.

    Cut off the tough stem of each drained cabbage quarter, and discard. Spread the rice powder mixture evenly over each quarter, leaf by leaf. Once complete, roll up each quarter from the outside in. Place all four quarters in a sterilized quart jar, pressing down on the bundles to remove any excess air. Any extra can be placed in a smaller, sterilized jar using the same process.

    Allow the kimchi to sit at room temperature for at least 2 to 3 days. After two days, gently loosen the lid to allow some pressure to release. Tighten the lid again, and allow to sit out another day, if possible, before transferring to the refrigerator. For best results, allow to mature for at least another 2 weeks in the refrigerator, and use within a month.

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