Jul 26, 2007

Sweet Basil Squid

Mike and I, we love seafood. As you (would) probably notice, most of the recipes (and food reviews) here (will) feature prawns, squid and fish.

We also love spice. And herbs. Me, I am crazy about basil. Given a choice I will always have pesto (proof: here). I sprinkle dried basil on my pasta each time we eat at Sbarro, and I will always find an excuse to put it in stir-fries whenever possible.

I love that its smell and flavor are interestingly indescribable. There's no way to say in a few words how it specifically smells or tastes. This is because the aroma and flavor of basil is an interplay of the essential oils present in its leaves: cinnamate (same as in cinnamon), citronellol (geraniums, roses, and citronella), geraniol (as in geranium), linalool (a flowery scent also in coriander), methyl chavicol (which gives tarragon its scent), myrcene (bay, myrcia), pinene (which is, as the name implies, the chemical which gives pine oil its scent) and ocimene terpineol. (Wikipedia) There's simply no way a dish will be bland with basil in it!

There's also quite a number of basil varieties, but the most commonly known and available is sweet basil. (This is also the kind commonly used in Thai, Indonesian and Vietnamese cooking.) I usually find Sweet Basil in the fresh produce section of Shopwise and SaveMore, with 100grams costing less than P20.00. (When they're in season, of course.) What an inexpensive way to put a little kick in your cuisine!


What's In It?

  • 1 kg. squid, cleaned, ink sacs and backbones removed, body cut into rings
  • 1 large scallion/onion, peeled and sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 pieces red pepper (siling labuyo), sliced - optional
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 5 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • a bunch of sweet basil, leaves removed from stalks and washed well
  • some leeks, sliced diagonally into rings, for garnish

Kitchen Conjugations:

In a wok over high heat, saute onions and garlic in oil for one minute. Add in squid heads and rings, siling labuyo (if using) and oyster sauce. Stir fry for a minute then add in sweet basil leaves. Stir fry a few seconds more, just to cook the leaves a little*. Adjust and correct seasonings by adding a pinch of salt or sugar.

Garnish with leeks. Serve while hot.


  1. If you overcook the basil the leaves will turn black and leak all the essential oils into your food. The flavor will be very strong.
  2. Squid becomes hard and rubbery when overcooked, so cook it over high heat quickly.

Substitutions: You can use Thai Basil for the sweet basil, other meats like pork, beef, shrimps and chicken (see at left) for the squid. Prolong stir-frying to about 3 minutes if using pork, beef or chicken, but only 1 minute for shrimps.


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