Australian Women’s Weekly Barbecues and Grills: Ginger Squid

When we go to the library (sometimes we get into a routine of going once a week, sometimes it’s more sporadic) the small child chooses his books and toys extremely quickly. Books in particular. Super quick. No browsing here.

But that means there’s no tolerance for my own browsing and so I end up letting him choose a cookbook. So it was that we ended up coming up with the AWW Barbecues & Grills when the weather at the time was far from suggestive of barbecues.

Obviously, a grill or a griddle pan does a perfect approximation of a bbq for indoor purposes but I think it’s also true that you feel a bit less like summery grilled foods with salads in the middle of winter.  This made choosing a dish from this out of season book somewhat tricky … but I settled finally on an easy grilled squid dish.  In the book it is served with an apple and celery coleslaw but we choose noodles with stir fried Asian greens.

Like many of the dishes in the book (and, perhaps, like many of the best BBQ dishes) this is extremely simple.  I bought whole squid which we then had to clean and chop but it would work perfectly with squid rings.  And if cephalopods aren’t your thing then the marinade would work well with barbecued or grilled chicken, pork or even some meatier fish.

Ginger Squid

This cook book is actually one I would seek out to add to my collection.  From a design point of view, the recipes are laid out with plenty of space, there are beautiful pictures and the recipes themselves are easy to follow with step by step instructions.  Yes, some things are a little basic if you spend any time in the kitchen – Cajun chicken burgers, for example, is basically a case of take chicken breast and rub with Cajun seasoning – but the recipes are a good spread from the very basic and quick through to more novel and labour intensive ideas.  And quite a few of the accompaniments or side dishes do put a new twist on things.  While this book won’t turn you into a Michelin starred chef, it will enable everyone to put something tasty and quick on the barbecue and give you few new ideas as a bonus.

Ginger Squid


  • squid hoods (or rings, or perhaps sliced chicken or pork) enough for two
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 generous tsp grated ginger
  • sambal oelek to taste (anywhere up to and beyond 2 tsp!)


  1. Create the marinade by mixing the sesame oil, grated ginger and sambal oelek.
  2. Prep your meat - if using the squid hoods, score them and chop into generous bite size pieces. Slice finely pork or chicken.
  3. Combine the meat with the marinade and set aside for a little. This is not a dish which needs a long marinade.
  4. Heat your cooking surface to a good high temperature. Cook the squid until just opaque - you will most likely need to do this in small batches and use tongs to turn the pieces. Don't overcook the squid!
  5. Serve immediately as a starter with an apple and celery coleslaw (that's the book's suggestion) or with stir fried Asian greens and noodles.

Beef Rendang

It’s true – curry is hard to photograph!

I’m sitting here sweltering: the thermometer has slid past 36°C yet again, and I’m hanging out for the cool change late this afternoon or early evening. Tomorrow’s forecast 29°C sounds almost chilly.

As I’m very much a winter person, I would like to swap with my mates in Leeds, who are currently enjoying temperatures just above 0°C. At least in that weather you can rug up, head to the pub for a cheeky pint and then tuck into a big curry. OK – you do have to dodge the icy footpaths (something I very definitely do NOT miss), but at least you feel like eating, which is the last thing on my mind right now!

Before temperatures took off, I made this beef rendang. The original recipe came from a 2003 Sainsbury magazine. As I no longer own the original I have no idea what tweaks may have taken place in 10 years. If you are familiar with rendang then you’ll notice that mine looks nowhere near authentic: I didn’t have the time to leave it cooking for long enough for the coconut milk to evaporate properly. It doesn’t matter: this still tastes fantastic!

Take 1kg of cubed beef and brown it in a large pan, in batches if necessary. Remove the beef and set aside.

In the same pan, add a little extra oil (use a flavourless oil, such as peanut) and brown a generous 2 tsp of grated ginger, 1 stalk of lemongrass, finely sliced, 1 onion, finely sliced and 6 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped. Add 10 curry leaves (as I have these growing at home I always add even more because I love the flavour!), chilli to taste (either fresh birds eye chillis or chilli flakes), ½ stick cinnamon, 4 cloves, 5 green cardamom pods, 1 star anise, chilli powder (again, to taste – the original recipe states 1 tbsp but you really have to hold your nerve to use that much!), 1 tbsp turmeric, ½ tbsp ground coriander and ½ tbsp ground cumin.

Give this all a good stir fry and then add a 400mL tin of coconut milk and an additional 200mL of water. If you are in a hurry reduce the amount of coconut milk you use and omit the water – this will give you a thicker gravy without the long cooking time.  Bring this mix to the boil and then add an additional stem or two of lemongrass (whole, but bruised).

Reduce the heat and return the meat to the pan. Simmer (very gently – if you let it boil now you’ll end up with super tough meat) for a couple of hours.

The longer you can let it simmer for the better: flavours will develop and the coconut milk will start to evaporate, leaving behind a dense, fudgy and quite dry curry, with beautifully tender meat.

Serve with rice, and garnish with fresh coriander.

Perfect for staving off a cold winter night in the northern hemisphere … and, if you put enough chilli in, great for working up a sweat here in the sweltering south of Australia!

Asian Beef Salad


Another foray into the magazine archives and something I was quite excited to come across.

This time, it’s the July 2001 issue of Food and Travel. The Swift Suppers section features recipes from Vatch’s Southeast Asian Salads: 6 salads from all over south east Asia.

I needed to work with what I knew to be readily available so I ended up combining two of the recipes: the Vietnamese grilled beef salad and a Burmese salad, thoke. Now, a quick google of thoke will bring up lots of recipes that are all completely different from what follows. What I liked about this salad was that it was different. Here in Adelaide we’re fast approaching BBQ season and mostly the repertoire of salads is pretty limited, so I like to keep an eye out for recipes that are quick to put together but that also represent a departure from a bit of lettuce, cucumber and tomato.

Let’s begin with the beef. Make a marinade by whisking together 5 tbsp of lime juice, 4 tbsp of fish sauce and 2 tbsp of sugar. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved. For a change, I actually followed these proportions because I do appreciate that in this type of food getting the salty/sweet/sour/hot balance correct is important! Once the sugar is dissolved stir in two young lemon grass stalks, very finely sliced and some finely sliced chilli. I used one small fataali chilli. As this marinade won’t be cooked, don’t be tempted to substitute chilli flakes – fresh will be much better.

Leave the marinade to stand until you need it.

When you’re ready to eat, take a piece of rump steak (approximately 500g) and cook it on a hot grill (or BBQ, or just in a hot pan) for only a minute or two on each side. You want plenty of colour on the meat but typically you want the meat nice and rare. (If you really can’t stand that idea, cook the meat to your liking). When the meat is cooked, remove from the pan, slice thinly and toss through the marinade, ensuring it’s well coated.

Leave the meat in its marinade for at least 30 minutes.

Traditionally, the meat would be served up on a salad of beansprouts, basil, mint and salad leaves. However, I knew I wouldn’t be able to track down the requisite quantities of basil and mint so I ended up tossing the meat (and marinade) through some vermicelli noodles. Tasty, but somewhat anaemic looking! Next time I’ll make the effort to put together the appropriate salad.

The thoke was easy to make: finely slice some white cabbage and cut some carrot and cucumber into fine matchsticks. Mix them together in a bowl and toss through some beansprouts.

Heat a little oil in a fry pan and fry a couple of thinly sliced garlic cloves until crisp (keep an eye on them – you want them golden but not burnt!). Drain the garlic and add to your vegetables. Finely slice half an onion and fry in the same oil until crisp, then add to the vegetables.

Sprinkle the salad with 1/2 tsp of turmeric, some chilli powder (to taste), a little salt and a very generous squeeze (or two) of lime juice. Toss everything together (you want that chilli powder to be evenly distributed) and serve.

This was really delicious – incredibly easy to make, and very fresh, crunchy and (dare I say it?) healthy. Next time you’re asked to bring a salad, give thoke a go!