Here is the first in a series of “which one?” posts I will probably write in the months ahead, as I try to narrow down my list of recipes for that mythical Marketman cookbook… Both recipes yield delicious dishes but they taste so different from each other. So I am curious which recipe regular readers would rather have in a cookbook of Marketman’s favorite Filipino dishes (I already have my opinion, but want to hear yours)… On the one hand is the Adobong pusit without squid ink in the top photo that is a also cooked in vinegar, but finished with a tomato and onion sofrito of sorts. It is a bit more complicated to make, but yields a tender squid stew with a hearty sauce with a lot of tomatoes and onions. On the other hand is the more rustic squid cooked in its own ink. Simple, quick, hearty and an absolute hit for many. It packs walloping flavor and pairs beautifully with rice. Stained teeth are just part of the territory.
The “inkless” adobo entails parboiling the tiny squid in vinegar, soy, aromatics, etc. until tender. Then draining the squid and retaining the liquid. A saute of tomatoes and onions in olive oil, the squid added back in and the liquid added to the desired level of soupiness and simmered until the flavors meld well. I added siling labuyo or bird’s eye chilies for some spiciness. It was excellent. Struck me as being closer to a spanish dish of sorts, but squid cooked in its own ink is pretty Iberian as well. For those of you who are curious, a version of this dish was published in Enriqueta David-Perez’s cookbook first published some 50 years ago and so there is a generation of folks who made adobong pusit in a similar manner. I also note that the recent publication, Kulinarya, also opted to feature this version rather than the version with ink. This is certainly the more “refined” version of the dish, but it has its fans.
The black adobong pusit is a one pot wonder. Don’t bother to peel the skin of the squid, no need to carefully remove ink sacks. Saute onions, tomatoes and ginger in vegetable oil and add the squid. Add some vinegar and some soy to taste and let it simmer until done. Add a couple of siling labuyo if you want it spicy. Only add a little water if it appears too dry. Minimal prep time, quick cooking. Beautifully complex and tasty dish. It has an astonishing depth of flavor for something that takes less than 15 minutes to make. It might be more “common” but it is delicious. I suspect this would win hands down in a democratic vote, but that is my guess. Which one would YOU rather have in a recipe book? The first, because the second is so simple? Or the second, because perfectly simple isn’t so easy? :)