Squid Dumplings


My husband insisted that we go canoeing one afternoon last month. It was the rare summer day with sun shining beautifully warm with a gentle breeze, perfect to enjoy the world outdoors.

When he turned 50, I bought him a canoe. We’ve used it over the years, but this year this was our only outing. The local river is slow, gentle, and surprisingly scenic despite its urban setting. People fish, kayak, canoe, and run or cycle along the shoreline trails.

We floated downstream around a bend, and we were surprised by this blue heron who didn’t notice our approach. I had my camera out, the settings adjusted, and zap: captured one nice shot of him before he flew off.

click any thumbnail to see a larger image

So many nice views, while floating down
not all captured digitally with my little point and shoot camera, nor I’m sure not in my memory.

There were great flocks of Cedar Waxwings swooping around us. Unusual. But my camera was not up to the task of capturing but one or two, not very well. It’s so amazing to see such creatures, as though they are from another dimension.

Evidence of the difficulty of capturing such ephemeral mystical creatures, but done better than I could manage.

At home, waiting, was a half package of thawing frozen small squid. No, I did not look forward to making this recipe: squid are rather frightening. I like to eat these dumplings/burgers, but get queasy working with the squid. I’ve never seen what they look like, alive.

Turns out they are beautiful, contrary creatures, swimming backward tail first as they do. And not whitish and slimy as I think of the thawed dissected bits and pieces of them… Is it better or worse to see what a creature you will eat looks like in its native state?

Pan-Fried Squid Dumplings

adapted from: The Japanese Kitchen
•250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit•
by Hiroko Shimbo
page 381
make 8 to 10 patties

  • 1 pound cleaned squid (frozen/cleaned) (in this case, I had only ½ pound squid and used ½ pound shrimp)
  • 6 ounces pork shoulder (in this case, I used ground chicken—don’t do it: ground chicken is too mushy. You could use ground pork for an acceptable texture.)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons potato starch
  • ½ cup minced green onions, especially the green part
  • 1 Tablespoon ginger juice
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

Thaw the squid, and dry very well with a cotton kitchen towel.
Cut the squid into smaller pieces and process in a food processor by pulsing on and off. Do not over-process! You don’t want mush. Transfer to a bowl.
Cut the pork into smaller pieces and process in a food processor with the garlic. Again, don’t chop it too fine. Add the pork to the bowl and combine with the squid.
Sprinkle the mixture with the salt and some of the potato starch. Combine. Sprinkle on more potato starch, combine, and continue until all the starch is incorporated. Don’t dump it in all at once or it will make lumps.
Add the ginger juice and stir. Add the sesame oil. Stir.

  • 2½ teaspoons tamari
  • 2 Tablespoons mirin
  • ½ teaspoon shichimi togarashi (seven-spice powder)

Combine the above in a cup. Pour a little sauce over the meatballs, or dip them into the cup (depending on whether you are on kissing terms with your dinner partners or not.

  • Vegetable oil

Heat a skillet and add a Tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, drop several spoonsful of the squid into the pan. Each patty should be about 3″ in diameter. Fry on medium low until one side is golden. Turn and fry the other side. Total cooking time per batch should be about 5 to 6 minutes. Add oil as needed.
Drain on paper towels. Arrange in a heat-proof dish to keep warm in the oven until all the patties are cooked. Brush them with the sauce.

I served the dumplings on crinkly green lettuce leaves with slices of garden tomatoes: pour some sauce on the dumplings, and wrap them in the leaves to eat.

Click on the thumbnails for previously published posts with variations of this recipe. Note that these dumplings are more usually dropped into a hot-pot meal and simmered to cook.

another YouTube about Waxwings:
Very nice on page 2…

4 thoughts on “Squid Dumplings

  1. Looks bucolic. Canoeing seems such a rustic and wonderful pastime – there is no other boat shape so beautiful as a canoe. Begs for a picnic, some hand trailing, book reading and general messing about.
    Lovely (~:

    • Yes, we usually bring a bottle of beer to enjoy. Sad that this was the only canoe adventure this summer—too many things to do…

      It is peaceful, calming, just floating and looking around. I like taking pictures though I’m not a photographer who plans what an image will be. It’s a matter of synchronicity: what I see, what the camera captures sometimes reveals what I was not aware of at the time.

  2. Tessie, You’re too honest. A good yarn spinner would have had your subscribers believing that we scooped those squiddies out of the river into the canoe, or maybe that we had that trained heron catch them and drop them in your basket.

    • Dunno, but maybe there would be some culinary use for the slimy weeds that grow in the shallow slow part of the river at the Gallup Park dock? Want to experiment?

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