Squid with Soy Sauce Stir Fry

Does it taste as sinful as it looks? Hell yeah. Sky-rocketed cholesterol devils covered in thick sugary sauce, that is a no-no recipe for the health conscious. Indulge in them sparingly, but when you do, enjoy them to the fullest. That’s what I’d say.

This is one of my mother’s signature dishes. She doesn’t do this often, in fact, it has been years since she cooked this. After a super early trip to the market one Sunday, she came home with a bag of fresh big squids and I was cheering like a little girl. Oh my gosh, are we going to cook “Cumi Kecap”? That’s what we call in Indonesian. Squid with soy sauce stir fry.

The tentacles are stuffed inside the squid. The whole dish is slowly simmered in sweet sauce to perfection. When you take your first bite, the soft stuffing inside just burst with texture and flavors. The gooey black sauce is like the dark evil brother. And the dish shines perpetually!

Isn’t this guy one of the most interesting creatures that live in the sea? I think so.

It is so smooth and silky .. and spotty.

Peel the spotty layer of skin off. All of them. It is inedible. Yeah all of them. Get rid of the ink bag. I didn’t have time to take picture of them. Mother worked so fast! Rub them lightly with some coarse salt or some lime juice to get rid of the sea-smell out of them. Rinse well.

Pat them dry. Put the squids and tamarind pulp in a bowl.

It is now marinade time. Add some ground white pepper and salt.

A lot of sweet soy sauce.

Mix them all together.

Use your fingers to squeeze and smash the tamarind pulp. Get rid of the seeds. Use everything else.

Ad some sugar.

Mix some more.

Stuff the tentacles into the squid, leaving some shown (mother left one small strain out that couldn’t be seen in this shot and by the time I did it, my hands were too sticky to hold the camera).

Use a toothpick to pierce the opening of the squid. Do this to all of the squids.

Leave on fridge for sometime so the marinade liquid can work the magic.

Heat some oil in a big and thick wok. Or thick pan. Why? Because of the high sugar content, the sugar will burn too quickly if the pan is too thin. Use the heaviest pan-bottom you have.

Toss in the squid and marinade liquid and lower heat. Let simmer.

Add shaved palm sugar (gula melaka/gula merah)

Add water and continue simmering.

The sugar content will cause the sauce to bubble up like crazy when boiling.

Almost there. The sauce is slightly darken.

Yeah that’s what I was talking about. It already caramelized and darken. The liquid would have been cooked away by a third.

Now the final step, add in some margarine (or butter). This will shine the dish up .. and give it a delicious hint of .. err … fat.

Stir quickly to get an even melt.

Serve with steamed rice. Mop up the sauce with some crusty bread. Or your fingers. Whichever.


Squid with Soy Sauce Stir Fry

Makes 4 servings


1 kg squid, skinned and ink-bag removed
60 g tamarind pulp
1/2 tbsp pepper
6 tbsp sweet soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt, plus 1/2 tsp for rinsing the squid
4 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup cooking oil
2 tbsp palm sugar (gula merah or gula melaka), shaved
2 tbsp margarine


Wash squid with some salt. Rinse under running water and pat dry.
In a bowl, combine squid, tamarind, pepper, soy sauce, sugar and salt. Mix wel.
Stuff the tentacles into each squid and fasten the squid by toothpick.
Marinade for a couple of hours in the fridge.
Heat cooking oil in a wok. Add the squid and marinade liquid. Cook for a couple of minutes till it boils slightly.
Add shaved palm sugar and more water. Lower heat.
Keep simmering and stirring to avoid burn. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the liquid thickens.
Add margarine and mix well.
Remove from heat and serve with warm white rice.

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25 Responses to “Squid with Soy Sauce Stir Fry”

  1. 1

    mycookinghut — December 31, 2010 @ 10:15 am

    This is one of my old time favourites! Love squids cooked this way!

  2. 2

    Ruby — January 1, 2011 @ 3:20 am

    This looks amazing, especially with the tamarind – such a mouth-watering flavour! Is it important to tuck the heads/tentacles in? I’d be inclined to leave them out for visual effect. Your photos are beautiful!

    • Jun replied: — January 14th, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

      Nah, I think it is okay to leave them out. The tentacles are very delicious!

  3. 3

    dinewithleny — January 1, 2011 @ 5:22 am

    wah this squid looks scrumptious. I had something similar but was deep fried first. yummy….

    • Jun replied: — January 14th, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

      I think you just gave me a very bad idea!

  4. 4

    Arudhi@aboxofkitchen — January 2, 2011 @ 3:02 am

    Happy New Year!! oh..can`t imagine how many plates of rice I`d gobble up with those squids of yours!

  5. 5

    Monika — January 2, 2011 @ 4:17 am

    Wow, these squids look sooo good! Happy New Year!

  6. 6

    Kimberley — January 2, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

    That sauce seems like it would be mighty tasty on any number of different sea creatures. :)

    • Jun replied: — January 14th, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

      You are absolutely right!

  7. 7

    Tuty — January 2, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

    Delicious looking squids. I miss having squids with black ink. For some reason, US squids don’t have them :(
    Nice pictures too. Gotta try your version soon.
    Happy New Year.

  8. 8

    LittleMiss — January 2, 2011 @ 6:07 pm

    This looks really awesome, I can’t wait to try it… Is there a local name for this dish?

    • Jun replied: — January 14th, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

      I think this is called “Cumi Kecap Manis” :)

  9. 9

    Marc @ NoRecipes — January 4, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

    My mom used to make something very similar with soy sauce sugar and ginger. Was awesome on some hot white rice. When you say “sweet soy sauce” are you talking about kecap manis?

    • Jun replied: — January 14th, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

      I had no idea that many foodies are very familiar with our Indonesian kecap manis! Yeah, sweet soy sauce is kecap manis.

  10. 10

    Borislava — January 5, 2011 @ 4:19 am

    Incredibly good photos, Jun! I adore sea food, and now I really, deeply envy you for having the possibility to buy squids fresh on the market! ;) Lucky you! Have a Happy New Year!

  11. 11

    Maya — January 7, 2011 @ 6:01 am

    Sotong masak kicap – as we call it in Malaysia..Beautiful step by step instructions. Now I am really missing my mom…

  12. 12

    JUSTINE — January 12, 2011 @ 12:00 am


    • Jun replied: — January 14th, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

      Done! I have told mother :D

  13. 13

    The Pleasure Monger — January 13, 2011 @ 4:53 am

    Why oh why are you making me hungry with this??!! The squid looks absolutely mouthwatering…..!!

    • Jun replied: — January 14th, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

      You are too funny! Thank you for dropping by!

  14. 14

    Radhika — January 13, 2011 @ 11:03 am


    Not that I dig squid in any way (I am a vegetarian!), but what you wrote here

    “Hell yeah. Sky-rocketed cholesterol devils covered in thick sugary sauce, that is a no-no recipe for the health conscious. Indulge in them sparingly, but when you do, enjoy them to the fullest. That’s what I’d say.”

    said a whole lot about you. Much impressed!
    Oh BTW, Beautiful pictures and good composition…

    • Jun replied: — January 14th, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

      Thank you for your kindest comment!

  15. 15

    david_cuba — June 2, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

    This is awesome!!! Im not Asian but this has good directions and the dish taste great!! I’d love to taste it again but not cooked by me but an Indonesian person. Thank you so much

  16. 16

    asianfoodophile — August 5, 2011 @ 5:54 pm

    Hope you like the picture of the BIIIIG squid I just emailed you. Dunno if your whole family can finish just one squid. Got a pot or wok big enough?

    Fried squid (cut into rings) dipped in egg white or egg yolk (forgot which) and yhen coated with flour and deep fried is sooo nice and tasty..Maybe can use the Kentucky brand flour (for fried chicken) to coat the squid with then deep fry. I think when the oil is hot enough better lower flame to low otherwise the oil will be spattering all over the kitchen.

  17. 17

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