Grilled squid dishes are well sought after in countries blessed with fresh seafood such as Indonesia. In this Southeast Asian country, grilled squid is known as cumi bakar in the native language. The main ingredient of this dish is kicap manis or sweet soy sauce which has a consistency comparable to honey. Blending the aromatics along with the sauce enhances the wonderful aroma. The mild savoury flavour and sweetness makes the grilled squids so addictive and appetizing.
Is this dish spicy?
Not at all! However, the seeds and membranes of the chillies need to be removed before blending. You can check out Step 1 of the ‘How to Prepare’ section to see how it is done here. That will reduce the spiciness. Besides, the sweetness of the kicap manis will help to tone down the spiciness too.
What is kicap manis?
Kicap manis or kecap manis is a wonderful condiment which is sweet unlike the usual salty flavours in soy sauce. Originally from Indonesia, kicap manis makes a great addition to the spices. Get them at your nearest Asian grocer or local supermarkets if you are in Southeast Asia.
Blend spices finely
Most of the spices and aromatics such as garlic, shallots and chillies are soft and tender. They blend and cook easily. However, ginger and lemon grass especially take longer to be finely blended. Biting onto chunks of ginger or lemon grass may not be pleasant to many. If you do not have a sharp blender, pound the tip of the lemon grass as shown here in step 3 of the ‘How to Prepare’ section. You may marinate and then grill the squids along with the bruised lemon grass.
Duration to marinate squids
Squids do not need to be marinated for a long time. It is suggested to leave the squids in the marinade for 20 minutes. If you are rushing for time, immediately grill the squids after mixing them evenly with the marinade. During the grilling process, remember to continue basting the squids with the marinade to ensure the flavours are locked into the dish.
Preparing marinade in advance
Freezing the delicious marinade will help in preserving it for up to 3 months. It is best to freeze the marinade on its own without the squids, of course. Freezing them together will cause excess water to be released into the marinade.