Andrew McConnell makes his own oyster sauce using freshly shucked oysters and squid ink to create a perfect balance of salty, sweet, sour and umami. Paired with simply grilled calamari and greens foraged from the coastline, this is a dish to celebrate the sea. Food Safari Water
- 2 medium calamari, about 300 g, cleaned and tentacles reserved
- 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
- Sea salt and lemon juice, to taste
- 1 large pinch sea spray, picked and washed
- 1 large pinch sea parsley, picked and washed
- 1 large pinch of bronze fennel, picked and washed
- 6 sprigs rock samphire, picked and washed
- 4 society garlic flowers
- 6 freshly shucked oysters, all their brine reserved
- 3 thin slices ginger
- ½ garlic clove, finely sliced
- ½ red Asian shallot, finely sliced
- 1 spring onion, green part only, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
- 3 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp squid ink
- 1 tsp lemon juice
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Standing time: 30 min
For the oyster sauce, place all the ingredients except the squid ink and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Add 125 ml (½ cup) water and bring to a simmer over low heat. Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes.
Strain the stock and return to the pan. Add the squid ink and bring back to a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with the lemon juice.
Preheat a charcoal barbecue.
To prepare the calamari, cut down the seam of the tube on one side so that you have one flat piece. Using paper towel, remove all stringy sinew from the inside surface of the tube. Cut the tubes into four even pieces and score the inside surface in a cross hatch with a sharp knife, making sure not to cut all the way through. (This will allow it to curl when cooked)
Lightly oil the calamari on the scored side. Place on the grill scored-side down and grill for 2-3 minutes or until golden, then turn and cook the other side for 15 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt and a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
To serve, spoon a little oyster sauce onto each a plate. Top with the calamari, then scatter with the coastal greens and garlic flowers.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Rachel Lane. Creative concept by Belinda So.