Posts Tagged squid

Jun 22 2018

China stops buying US squid in advance of tariffs

A California market squid. Photograph courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The 25% retaliatory tariffs that China has promised to slap on about a billion dollars worth of US seafood imports don’t go into effect for another three weeks, but US squid producers already are feeling the pain.

Chinese buyers have started cancelling their orders out of concern that shipments won’t arrive in time, Undercurrent News has learned.

“People are not buying anything right now,” said Jeff Reichle, president of Lund’s Fisheries, a squid harvester, processor and exporter based in Cape May, New Jersey. “China is completely dead.”

China issued its retaliatory tariffs late on Friday, including nearly 200 seafood items along with numerous agricultural goods in a list of some 545 total items worth a combined $50bn, as part of a tit-for-tat trade battle with US president Donald Trump. Trump earlier in the day had updated the list of Chinese products for which he had levied a 25% import tariff, increasing the number to 1,102 worth $50bn.

Calamari. Photo courtesy of Del Mar Seafoods.

Following China’s response, the White House on Monday night further upped the ante by ordering the US Trade Representative to draw up a new list of $200bn-worth of Chinese goods to hit with an additional 10% tariff.

Beijing’s tariffs threaten to hit a number of seafood sectors particularly hard when they go into effect in a few weeks, including the US lobster industry, which counted on China to buy 7,894 metric tons of lobster in 2017 worth $136.9 million.

Not too far behind the US lobster industry in its reliance on China is the US squid industry.

The US sent China 34,713t of squid worth $92.8m in 2017, nearly half of its overall 71,165t squid export volume and more than half of its $181.9m overall export value, based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data (NOAA).

By comparison, the second and third largest markets for US squid are Vietnam, which imported 8,855t worth $25.4m last year, and Japan, which imported 8,055t worth $21.5m.

‘We’re all dazed and confused here’

In particular, it’s the California market squid (Doryteuthis loligo opalescens) that the Chinese love. China imports roughly 70% of the 107,048 metric tons of the species caught off the California coast, estimates Joe Cappuccio, founder and president of Del Mar Seafoods, the US’ largest harvester and processor of the species.

Smaller and less expensive than most other squid, the California market squid can reach a total “tube length” of 28 cm, though a more typical size is 10 to 15 cm. They live just six to nine months, dying shortly after they reproduce, but are known for being able to handle a high amount of fishing pressure.

The California squid fishery was started in 1863 by Chinese immigrants, who used torches at night to attract them and skiffs to encircle a net around them. Today they’re caught by purse seiners and light boats who still use lights to draw them in.

When it comes to consuming the creature, “there is no substitute for California squid”, Reichle said. “The person that goes to a restaurant in China and orders a lobster is not the same person that orders squid. The squid, in China, is eaten by everyone, regardless of income level.”

Americans see squid and think calamari. But in China, squid is often served in a hotpot, dropping it into boiling water at a table. As a result, it’s popular during winter months.

China’s move was a punch to the gut for Del Mar, Cappuccio said. His company maintains eight of its own squid harvesting vessels and contracts with three other independent boats to harvest 20% to 25% of the California quota.

Lund’s, which also maintains a West Coast operation, catches and processes about 10% of California’s squid, said Reichle.

“We’re all dazed and confused here,” Cappuccio said on Tuesday.

China recently has paid top dollar for the California squid – roughly $2,700 per metric ton – plus a roughly 27% tariff based on a “minimum price” set by the Chinese government of $3,500 ($945). However, once the new 25% tariff ($911.25) is added on, the cost of squid in China will go from a total of $3,645 per metric ton to $4,556.25, an amount he and Reichle are both convinced the Chinese importers will not being willing to bare.

There are few remaining options for the US companies, except for reducing costs in order to keep the pain as low as possible for the Chinese buyers, the two men said.

“We’re all going to have to cut our margins back, the harvesters and the processors,” Cappuccio said.

On the bright side, as the price of squid is reduced, doors might open in other countries that were outbid by China. Cappuccio mentioned the Philippines, which he suggested could buy eager to buy more than the 1,732t of squid it spent $4.2m on in 2017.

Chinese importers similarly will struggle to replace California squid, Reichle said. There aren’t other kinds of squid that can easily take its place. In recent years when El Ninos, bands of warm ocean water that develop in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific, have hurt production, China simply went without importing as much squid, he said.

Solution needed before October

Undercurrent confirmed at least one report of squid containers on the water that may not get into China. Cappuccio said his company is keeping its fingers crossed for a few that were en route to China on Friday when the news broke about the tariffs.

But it could be worse, he said.

The Monterey Bay area of the California coast where squid are being harvested now accounts for only 20% to 30% of the total annual quota. The much larger portion, roughly 80%, will get harvested in the more southernly California coast between early October and late December.

However, should the Trump administration not be able to work out its differences with China before early October, the US squid industry could be in trouble.

“Come October, our company alone will be packing and shipping 30 containers a day, and we’ve done as many as 40,” Cappuccio said, noting that a single container typically contains 50,000 lbs.

Multiple trade experts have been quoted in the press as expressing skepticism that a deal can be reached between China and the US before July 6, and one trade expert said it could take the rest of the year. But Cappuccio is trying to remain optimistic.

“I think it’s too early right now to know what to think,” he said Tuesday. “We’re all guessing at this point.”


Originally posted: https://www.undercurrentnews.com/2018/06/20/china-stops-buying-us-squid-in-advance-of-tariffs/

Contact the author jason.huffman@undercurrentnews.com

Apr 26 2018

Monterey Bay fishermen working round the clock to pull in plentiful catch

Monterey >> Below the surface of Monterey Bay, opalescent market squid are busily creating a new generation, laying eggs in clusters on the seafloor. And at the water’s surface, a fleet of fishing boats are ready to scoop those squid up, continuing a fishing tradition that’s well over a hundred years old.

In Monterey Harbor, a collection of at least eleven boats have been fishing for squid not far from shore since April 1, their lights visible off the coast at night. When the fishing is good, said Joe Russo, second captain and deckhand on the fishing vessel King Philip, it’s not uncommon for them to spend 24 hours a day netting tens of thousands of pounds of slippery squid with each return to shore. They continue through the spring, summer, and into early fall, if they don’t exceed the quota set by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Tons of squid being unloaded from commercial fishing boats at Monterey’s Wharf No. 2 on Wednesday. (Vern Fisher – Monterey Herald)

“From noon on Sunday until noon Friday, as long as there’s fishing you might not sleep for two days,” he said, looking remarkably awake. The crew on his boat, including his father Anthony Russo (captain of the King Philip), rushed to pump the squid out of their hold on Wednesday and into big yellow tubs, each of which holds around 1,500 pounds of catch. As soon as their boat was completely unloaded, they planned to head right back out to the squid. In the meantime the elder Russo ducked inside to catch an hour-long nap.

Market squid (Doryteuthis opalescens) is in many years the most productive and valuable fishery in California. This year, with cold water and plenty of food available, plentiful squid are coming into Monterey Bay. But in some years the squid catch plummets — researchers believe that changes in water temperature and food availability associated with El Niño years keep squid populations down. The animals live for less than a year and die after one reproductive effort, which means their population can be wildly variable with yearly conditions.

Fishermen look for aggregations of squid that arrive in the bay to spawn and lay their eggs. Using bright lights, specialized independent “light boats” can attract the animals to the surface at night, trading their services for 20 percent of whatever the fishermen catch. During the day, fishermen look for the squid to collect on their own. Boats like the King Philip, said Russo, capture their squid using purse-seine nets, surrounding the squid with a net that can be closed at the bottom. They pump squid from the net into the boat’s hold, bring it back to shore, and unload at the dock closest to the wherever the fishing is good.

For now, that’s Monterey Harbor. According to John Haynes, harbormaster for the city of Monterey, the amount of squid coming through Monterey can be wildly variable. In 2016, a squid season associated with an El Niño climate event, saw landings valued at about $3.6 million. In 2014, a good squid year brought almost $18 million worth of squid through Monterey Harbor.

From the harbor, squid caught in California is split into several streams. Some becomes bait for other fisheries like rockfish, and some is boxed up and sold to local restaurants, but the majority is frozen and sent to Asia for processing. Some of that squid, processed overseas, comes right back and is resold in California again.

“Squid has become big in the last 15 years,” said Gaspar Catanzaro, a sales associate and chef at Monterey Fish Company, Inc. When Catanzaro was a child in New York, his parents owned a market. “We couldn’t give squid away,” he recalls. Now, he recommends calamari fried or lightly sauteed in a pan with onions, garlic, tomatoes, clam juice, basil, and red chili flakes over pasta.

“Fishing literally put Monterey on the map,” said Catanzaro. Fishermen from China, Italy, and many other countries competed over access to Monterey’s rich marine life; the first local squid fishermen netted their catches from rowboats in the early 1860s. “It’s what Monterey was built for,” said Haynes.

Russo and his crew still use some of the same techniques as the fishermen of old to catch their squid, assembling and repairing their nets by hand. But they have the advantage of engines, winches, and thick steel hulls on their side; at maximum capacity, Russo’s boat can hold 138 tons of squid.

On Wednesday afternoon, one squid boat waited at anchor for its turn to unload at the wharf. In the distance, another boat was circling a school of squid accompanied by a flock of hungry gulls.

“It’s pretty much nonstop,” said Russo.


Read the original post: http://www.montereyherald.com/

Nov 9 2017

Several hundred tons of squid offloaded in Ventura

Ventura Harbor saw a haul of around 300 to 400 tons of squid Tuesday morning, which harbor officials say is a good sign. TYLER HERSKO/THE STAR

 

The smell of squid filled the air Tuesday morning at Ventura Harbor, where workers were bustling to offload hundreds of tons of it.

The morning’s activities represented one of the largest squid hauls the harbor has seen in recent history. Approximately 300 to 400 tons of squid were brought into the harbor, representing a positive turn of events, said Frank Locklear, manager of commercial fisheries and technology at the Ventura Harbor Village Marina.

Locklear noted that squid season typically begins in April and the harbor saw squid through June. That said, Locklear added that squid numbers were practically nonexistent from July through September, which forced the harbor’s fishing companies to carefully save their resources until squid returned. Beyond that, the past three years have been particularly difficult for squid fishing due to poor weather conditions.

While the harbor prefers to receive around 500 to 600 tons on an average day, Locklear was confident that Tuesday’s haul represented a change of fortune. Squid fishing is one of the leading factors in the harbor’s success, according to Locklear.

“The harbor is a huge economic ball that is supported by the fishing industry,” Locklear said. “Fishing is the lifeblood of this harbor, and squid is the key.”

The squid fishing businesses that use the harbor export a significant majority of their yields to China, Locklear said.

Most of the squid sold in restaurants is imported from Asia, where squid cleaning and processing is cheaper.

Regardless, Locklear stressed that squid fishing is crucial to the economic well-being of both local fishing companies and the harbor as a whole. The harbor uses part of the revenue it receives from squid fishing companies to send representation to Washington, D.C., to get the funding it needs for dredging, which removes sand and sediment from the bottom of the harbor’s entrance.

Regular dredging is of paramount importance, and squid fishing is the primary thing that makes dredging possible, according to Locklear.

“Ventura Harbor is home to three large recreational marinas that have dive boats, island excursion boats and sport fishermen that need to get out of the harbor to survive,” Locklear said. “Without the funds that we get for our squid, we can’t go to Washington to get the funding we need for dredging. If we don’t dredge yearly, our boats can’t come in and out.”


Read original post: http://www.vcstar.com/

Mar 8 2017

Figuring Out When and Why Squids Lost Their Shells

A 166-million-year-old fossil of an extinct relative of the squid. Credit Jonathan Jackson and ZoË Hughes/National History Museum of London

 

Shaped like a torpedo and about as swift, squids are jet-propelled underwater predators. Together with their nimble brethren, the octopus and cuttlefish, they make for an agile invertebrate armada.

But that was not always the case. Hundreds of millions of years ago, the ancestors of the tentacled trio were slow, heavily armored creatures, like the coil-shelled ammonites and the cone-shelled belemnites.

Alastair Tanner, a doctoral student at University of Bristol in England, wanted to better understand why those cephalopods lost their shells. But though both ammonites and the belemnites have left behind rich fossil records, their shell-less descendants have not.

So Mr. Tanner conducted a genetic analysis of 26 present day cephalopods, including the vampire squid, the golden cuttlefish and the southern blue-ringed octopus.

With the molecular clock technique, which allowed him to use DNA to map out the evolutionary history of the cephalopods, he found that today’s cuttlefish, squids and octopuses began to appear 160 to 100 million years ago, during the so-called Mesozoic Marine Revolution.

Mr. Tanner published his findings last week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

During the revolution, underwater life underwent a rapid change, including a burst in fish diversity. Some predators became better suited for crushing shellfish, while some smaller fish became faster and more agile.

“There’s a continual arms race between the prey and the predators,” said Mr. Tanner. “The shells are getting smaller, and the squids are getting faster.”

The evolutionary pressures favored being nimble over being armored, and cephalopods started to lose their shells, according to Mr. Tanner. The adaptation allowed them to outcompete their shelled relatives for fast food, and they were able to better evade predators. They were also able to keep up with competitors seeking the same prey.

Today most cephalopods are squishy and shell-less. The biggest exception is the nautilus. But though there are more than 2,500 fossilized species of nautilus, today only a handful of species exist.

Squid and octopus species number around 300 each, and there are around 120 species of cuttlefish. The differences in number, compared with the nautilus, indicates the advantages that these cephalopods may have gained over their shelled relatives, according to Mr. Tanner.

“It became a much more successful strategy to be a really high metabolism, very rapid moving animal,” Mr. Tanner said, “and they evolved into these really quite amazing things we see today.”


Read the original post: https://www.nytimes.com/

Dec 1 2016

In California, Squid Is Big Business. But Good Luck Eating Local Calamari

A squid salad in Los Angeles. In California, squid is an economic driver of the seafood industry. Bit most of this squid is frozen and exported overseas to China to be processed and distributed across the globe.

A squid salad in Los Angeles. In California, squid is an economic driver of the seafood industry. Bit most of this squid is frozen and exported overseas to China to be processed and distributed across the globe. (Rick Loomis/LA Times via Getty Images)



More than 80 percent of U.S. squid landings are exported — most of it to China. The rare percentage of that catch that stays domestically goes to Asian fresh fish markets or is used as bait.

Ironically, the lion’s share of the squid consumed in the United States is imported.

“Squid is a labor-intensive product,” says Emily Tripp, founder of Marine Science Today, a website on the latest ocean-based research. “It’s cheaper in some situations to ship it to China to be processed and ship it back.”

Tripp, who recently graduated with a masters from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, did her thesis project on California market squid, which, during non-El Niño years, is California’s most valuable fishery.

In California, squid is an economic driver of the seafood industry – it’s the fifth-largest fishery in the United States by weight. Yet most of this squid is frozen and exported overseas to China to be processed and distributed to over 42 countries across the globe. It’s an export market that, according to 2011 figures, is valued at $107 million. Only 1.4 percent of it, on average, makes it back to the U.S. In 2015, that figure was 0.46 percent.

“It has to do with the American desire for a larger squid,” explains Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association. “A lot of squid that is shipped overseas stays overseas because they prefer it. They eat it over there. Our consumers typically prefer a larger squid, and so there’s just a ton of squid imported into this country that comes in at a far lower price.”

In the U.S., the squid that ends up on our dinner table is typically Patagonian squid from the Falkland Islands or Humboldt squid — a jumbo cephalopod fished predominantly in Mexico and Peru.

California market squid isn’t usually desired because of its smaller size.

“Our squid is a learning curve,” Pleschner-Steele says. “If you overcook it, it can taste like a rubber band. But in my opinion, if you do it right, it tastes more like abalone than any other squid. It’s nutty, sweet and delicate.”

The cost of labor is another, perhaps more significant, factor. Squid cleaning and processing is an extremely time-consuming practice. The eyes, cartilage, skin and guts need to be removed ahead of time, and it’s cheaper to have this done overseas than domestically.

A round-trip freight cost to China is $0.10 per pound and labor is just $7 a day there. By contrast, California wages — with tax and health insurance — amount to $12 an hour, according to Pleschner-Steele.

Also, supply chains and markets are incredibly opaque. Pleschner-Steele suspects that as the Chinese middle-class economy has blossomed, a lot of the squid processing facilities are now based in Thailand.

Tripp says during her research, it was nearly impossible to track down where exactly the squid was being processed abroad.

“The biggest challenge was trying to find out where the squid goes when it leaves to the United States,” she says. “No one wants to say where they partner. It’s a bit of a challenge. In the United States we keep such good records of all of our fish and seafood. There’s no comparable system in China. I couldn’t follow the chain backwards.”

Regardless, the narrative is the same: Californians aren’t eating Californian squid. And if they are, it likely wasn’t processed in California.

At Mitch’s Seafood, a restaurant in San Diego committed to local fish, the owners spent three years looking for a California-based squid processor for their calamari. They eventually found a company in San Pedro called Tri-Marine.

“We have to pay twice as much for it, but it’s worth it so that we can say we offer California-caught and processed squid,” owner Mitch Conniff says. “Squid that’s caught two to three miles away takes a 10,000-mile round-trip journey before I can get it back into my restaurant.”

All Californian fish processors are capable of dealing with squid, Pleschner-Steele says. However, it’s not a money-making operation because people aren’t willing to pay for it.

“It has to be on request,” she says. “We simply can’t compete with the cost of other imported squid. ”

Supporting the local squid industry is much more than just helping the local economy – it’s helpful from a sustainability angle as well.

Even with squid being sent on a round-trip journey across the world, the California market squid fishery has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the industry.

“California squid fishing fleets are one of the most energy efficient in the world because [they’re] so close to port,” Pleschner-Steele says. “Our boats can produce a ton of proteins for about six gallons of diesel fuel. … Efficiency is key.”

Further efficiency, she says, could be achieved if consumers would be keen to fork over $1.50 a pound more for California-caught and processed squid.

But the “truth is that Americans aren’t willing to pay for it,” she says. “If people were willing to pay the price, we can definitely feed the demand.”


Clarissa Wei is a freelance journalist based in Los Angeles and Taipei. She writes about sustainability and food.

Copyright 2016 NPR.

May 27 2016

Spiny lobster and squid lead California’s fishing economy, says new report

fishing

While California’s seafood sales overwhelmingly relied on imported animals, commercial fisheries landed nearly 360 million pounds of fin- and shellfish in 2014, according to a federal report released Thursday with the most recent figures on the nation’s fishing economy.

The state’s seafood industry, including imports, generated a whopping $23 billion — more than 10 percent of the nation’s $214 billion total sales in 2014 from commercial harvest, seafood processors and dealers, wholesalers and distributors, and importers and retailers.

As such, most of California’s nearly 144,000 industry jobs came from the import and retail sectors, according to NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service Fisheries Economics of the U.S. 2014 report. Nationally, 1.83 million jobs are supported by the fishing industry.

California shellfish were the most lucrative product in the state’s home-grown seafood market, with crabs and spiny lobsters native to Southern California getting the most money per pound of all the species fished, at $3.37 and $19.16 per pound, respectively.

But market squid were overwhelmingly the most commonly landed species, with 227 million pounds caught. Squid only returned an average of 32 cents a pound, however. Commercially fished in San Pedro, among other landings, squid are in high demand in foreign markets.

California commercial anglers sold 20.8 million pounds of crab, 17 million pounds of Pacific sardine for 12 cents a pound, and 11.8 million pounds of sea urchin at 77 cents per pound, the report states.

“In California, shellfish have always been more important, at least in terms of value,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association. “This includes squid and Dungeness crab — usually the top two fisheries in value, and spiny lobster, which was an $18 million fishery in 2015.”

California fishers relied heavily on healthy market squid stocks in 2014 but, as El Niño weather conditions entered the following year, squid landings dropped significantly, Pleschner-Steele said.

“We’re now just starting to see squid landings, but at low volumes,” she said.

The lack of squid availability and fishing restrictions on Pacific sardine, which were the third-most commonly caught species in 2014, have been a challenge for fishers who argue there are plenty of sardines in the waters but they aren’t allowed to catch them because of state-imposed restrictions.

Mike Conroy, president of West Coast Fisheries Consultants, said anglers have had an increasingly hard time since 2014 trying to keep their fishing fleets afloat.

“I am sure the number of jobs have been dropping, but that is attributable to the closure of the sardine fishery, a slow squid year, increased regulation and automatic processing,” Conroy said. “Hopefully, with the departure of El Niño and arrival of La Niña, if it materializes, we should see more squid this season.”

The most controversial Southern California fishing operation, however, is the drift gill net fishery for swordfish and thresher sharks. Environmentalists have been fighting to close it for decades because the nets historically have captured large amounts of bycatch, harming and killing unintended species — including turtles and marine mammals. Technological innovations such as acoustic pingers have reduced the problem, but there is state legislation and an active campaign seeking to ban drift gill nets altogether.

“The (drift gill net) fishery is still hanging on,” Pleschner-Steele said. “But it’s much smaller now. Only a dozen or so fishermen have persevered.”

Nearly 2 million pounds of California swordfish were landed in 2014, earning a high return of $2.45 a pound, the National Marine Fisheries report found.

The least lucrative fish in California in 2014 was the Pacific whiting, or hake, which can be found all along the coast. It earned just 9 cents a pound, according to the NOAA report. Among common fin-fish species, salmon was the state’s most lucrative, garnering $4.74 a pound, followed by sablefish and rockfish, at $2.26 and $1.57 a pound, respectively, in 2014.


Read the original post: http://www.dailybreeze.com/

Mar 7 2016

S. California Fisheries Hit Hard By Warming Water

Squid have pretty much disappeared from Southern California in the last several months.

“Squid’s kind of our bread and butter. That’s what a lot of us make our payments and survive on,” said Corbin Hanson who fishes off the coast of Southern California.

”It’s extremely frustrating. It’s demoralizing to go out and not be able to catch anything,” Hanson said.

Hanson has not caught any squid for more than four months. Squid is one of California’s largest commercial fisheries, and much of it is exported to countries in Asia and the Mediterranean.

Oceanographer Andrew Leising with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries said unusually warm water is causing squid and other fish to move farther north. At a meeting at the Aquarium of the Pacific, scientists explained one cause of the warming waters is what they call “the blob.”

“During the, say, 30-year record, this event “the blob” stands out far beyond anything we’ve seen in that 30 years. And in terms of that total warmth of the water, it’s pretty much the warmest we’ve ever measured and over an extremely large volume of water,” Leising said.

At its warmest, “the blob” is 4 degrees Celsius above normal temperatures. While “the blob” warms the water’s surface layers, another weather phenomenon called “El Niño” is warming the deeper waters.

“We’re looking at a situation where we have two years of the blob warming the water. Now we’re going into El Niño warming the water, so we really have about three years solid of kind of these warm conditions that have been affecting the fisheries,” Leising said.

Oceanographers said while “the blob” is mostly gone, they don’t know if it will return. The National Weather Service’s Mark Jackson said there is a promising forecast for warm waters caused by El Niño.

“Those waters will cool through the summer, and it looks right now a very distinct possibility that we could be in a La Niña situation next winter,” Jackson added. “That’s where the waters in the eastern and central Pacific will actually cool below normal.”

Cooler waters next winter also mean good news for Corbin Hanson and his crew, but until then, they have to be frugal.

“There’s hardly anything spent on new equipment, new gear. We’re trying to get by and stop the bleeding this year,” he said.

Scientists said if there is a La Niña next winter, squid and other fish should return to Southern California.


Read the original post: http://www.voanews.com/

Jun 15 2015

Kin Khao’s Recipe for Charred Squid in a Chili-Garlic Sauce

Pan-sear tender squid, douse it in a seriously spicy sauce and scatter it with peanuts and cilantro for a simple, striking summer meal. This recipe from Kin Khao in San Francisco offers an accessible intro to authentic Thai cooking

squidHERBAL REMEDY | A scattering of cilantro provides a refreshing counterpoint to the bold spice and pungency of the sauce. Photo: Stephen Kent Johnson for The Wall Street Journal, Food Styling by Heather Meldrom, Prop Styling by Nidia Cueva

AT 31 YEARS OLD, Mike Gaines had mastered classical French and Japanese as well as New California cooking. But when he signed on to help open Kin Khao, a casual Thai eatery in downtown San Francisco, in a sense he was starting all over again. The restaurant’s owner, Pim Techamuanvivit, wasn’t worried: “I knew Mike was an excellent chef,” she said of her plan to introduce him to dishes she’d eaten all her life. “For me,” Mr. Gaines added, “the most difficult part was finding the balance Pim was looking for. When you are dealing with such bold flavors, you have to retrain your palate.”

This recipe for pan-seared squid doused in a bracing vinaigrette and topped with toasted peanuts and fresh cilantro—the pair’s second Slow Food Fast contribution—provides a crash course in authentic Thai cooking. “I insisted that it be kick-you-in-the-face spicy,” Ms. Techamuanvivit said.

The sauce, made with fresh chilies, fish sauce, garlic, lime juice and palm sugar, is known as nam jim talay. “It should be sour, spicy, garlicky and sweet,” said Ms. Techamuanvivit. “Thai cooks use sugar to round things out. If the first thing you taste is sweet, then the sauce is wrong.” She added that though the seafood used in this dish may change according to the season, the toppings never do: “The peanut and cilantro are not just garnishes. They are integral to the dish.”

Both Mr. Gaines and Ms. Techamuanvivit lament the way Thai cooking has been dumbed down in this country. From their modest yet ambitious kitchen, they are working to raise the bar with punchy, fresh and textured dishes like this one. Mr. Gaines compared their efforts to what chefs did a couple of decades ago to increase awareness about regional Italian cooking versus the Americanized pasta and pizza that had become ubiquitous. He was firm on this point: “Thai food is much more nuanced than we think.”

Charred Squid in a Chili-Garlic Sauce

Total Time: 20 minutes Serves: 4

5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1½ bird’s eye or other hot chilies, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons palm sugar or light brown sugar
Juice of 1½ limes
5 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons bran or olive oil
2 pounds whole squid, cleaned
1 cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup toasted and finely chopped peanuts
Cooked sticky or white rice, for serving

1. Use a mortar and pestle or a food processor to crush garlic, chilies and sugar to a coarse paste. Transfer to a small bowl, then stir in lime juice and fish sauce. Set aside.

2. Heat half the oil in a cast-iron or other large, heavy pan over high heat. Once oil is shimmeringhot, sear half the squid, turning frequently, until surface browns on all sides and squid just cooks through, about 3 minutes total. Repeat with remaining oil and squid.

3. Transfer squid to a serving plate and spoon sauce over top. Sprinkle with cilantro and peanuts. Serve with sticky or white rice.


Read original post: www.wsj.com

May 9 2015

Embracing Squid in Its Many Forms

13KITCHEN1-master675Evan Sung for The New York Times

It’s funny that people who are normally squeamish about eating oddball food have no problem with squid.

Maybe it’s because most people encounter squid as fried calamari, which are often deep-fried rings with no discernible ocean flavor. This generic crisp and salty bar snack served with marinara sauce has mass appeal for young and old, even small children. But if they were told that calamari are actually bizarre-looking cephalopods with tentacles, and not somehow related to chicken nuggets, most kids wouldn’t touch them.

A platter of fried calamari does make a good introduction to squid, though, and can be quite wonderful when it’s well prepared. A good Italian restaurant is the best place to have them, maybe as part of a fritto misto. Many Thai restaurants offer excellent renditions sparked with hot pepper, mint and basil. In Spain, at streetside stands, you can buy a paper cone filled with freshly fried tiny squid called chipirones. They’ll make you swoon.

There are countless other ways to enjoy squid. Try them whole, seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast them uncovered in a hot oven for 10 minutes or so, or throw them on the grill. With a dab of aioli or salsa verde — divine.

13KITCHEN3-articleLargeEvan Sung for The New York Times

Braised long-cooked squid is also delectable. Simmering in tomato sauce until tender, or in a hearty red wine sauce, a common method used in many parts of Europe, is a way of treating squid a bit more like meat than fish. And squid stewed “in its own ink” shows up in arroz negro, a kind of black paella, or in pasta nero, garlicky spaghetti in a rich black sauce.

Sicilian cooks often make calamari ripieni, filling the whole squid’s cavity with a savory bread-crumb stuffing. For this recipe, I add typical Sicilian ingredients like chard, fennel, anchovy, pecorino and pine nuts for an especially herby effect. The wild fennel fronds that grow prolifically on Sicilian soil are not available where I live, so I use a combination of fronds from cultivated fennel and crushed fennel seeds. Cooks in Northern California can forage for it, though.

13KITCHEN2-articleLargeEvan Sung for The New York Times

Some use toothpicks to keep the stuffing in, but I don’t mind if some falls out while the calamari are roasting.

Be sure to purchase the tentacles as well as the tubes (some fishmongers sell them separately). They are delicious when roasted alongside the stuffed calamari and great fun to eat.


Read the original post: www.nytimes.com

Apr 15 2015

Can squid help make soldiers invisible?

squid

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Atlanta (CNN) — One of the world’s oldest organism groups, cephalopods, like squid, octopus and cuttlefish, have survived in Earth’s oceans for millions of years.

They key to their survival: mastering the art of camouflage.

Now, scientists say, these ancient invertebrates may hold the key to developing a combat technology that will allow soldiers to avoid infrared detection.

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine say they have discovered a way to use proteins in the cells of pencil squid to develop “invisibility stickers” that can be worn by ground troops.

“Soldiers wear uniforms with the familiar green and brown camouflage patterns to blend into foliage during the day, but under low light and at night, they’re still vulnerable to infrared detection,” said Alon Gorodetsky, assistant professor of chemical engineering and material sciences.

“You can draw inspiration from natural systems that have been perfected over millions of years, giving us ideas we might never have been able to come up with otherwise,” he said.

Gorodetsky and his team have focused on specialized squid cells known as iridocytes, which contain a unique light-reflecting protein called reflectin. They were able to engineer E. coli bacteria to synthesize reflectin and coat the protein onto a packing tape-like surface to create the “invisibility stickers.”

Researchers say these reflectin-coated stickers can be changed into virtually any color with a chemical or mechanical stimulus.

“There is a lot of flexibility in how one can deploy this material, essentially, by taking the stickers and putting them all over yourself, you could look one way under optical visualization and another way under active infrared visualization,” Gorodetsky said.

The lab technology is not ready to be used in combat zones as researchers work to develop an adaptive camouflage system, in which multiple stickers are able to work in sync and respond to varying infrared wavelengths.

“We’ve developed stickers for use as a thin, flexible layer of camo with the potential to take on a pattern that will better match the soldiers’ infrared reflectance to their background and hide them from active infrared visualization,” Gorodetsky said.

The researchers’ work was recently presented at the 2015 American Chemical Society national meeting.


Read original story: http://www.cnn.com