Patriotic Watermelon and Coriander Salad with Fennel Risotto Stuffed Squid

patriotic coriander and watermelon salad with fennel risotto stuffed baby squid

Australia Day. Why they chose a day that says a big fuck you to the people who’d just happened to be here at the time and had been for quite a while before that is a bit beyond me.

As is flag waving. I mean I think my wife is just the best but I don’t insist she wear a name tag to remind me what a great wife she is. Anyway that’s all neither here nor there because it’s also the day all the swearing in of new citizens happens and since my Quebecois brother in law was to become a citizen. We thought we’d do the right thing just in case he’d thought he’d signed up for some other country.

A big and tasty lunch was had and I brought the above along. I started with squid and worked my way back. Stuffing would be risotto and then I thought that just squid is a bit squiddy and then I saw the watermelon in the fridge and remembered Neal Jackson does a very nice fried squid with a watermelon salad. It uses coriander instead of the more traditional mint. The value of being exposed to ideas is that you can nick them later at an opportune moment of inspiration. Here’s a quick run through.

Baby squid tubes:
15. Already cleaned, too easy. Otherwise you’ll just have to clean them

One finely chopped white onion and a similar amount of similarly finely chopped white of the fennel bulb and four finely chopped garlic cloves. Saute in olive oil, colour the aborio rice (a cup and a half) and then continue with the slow process of stirring and adding liquid until al dente (won’t be explaining that today). I used a mix of about 80% white wine to 20% chicken stock. Can’t say I was overly impressed with the resulting flavour, as it ended up a bit vinegary like sushi rice. The effect was much more harmonious once inside the squid. About two thirds of the way through I started adding a small handful of parsley and fennel leaves as well as half a cup of sliced fennel stalks. Finished by adding pepper and stirring in a nice big dob of butter to keep it moist whilst cooking in the squid.

Another thought is I wasn’t exactly sure when to add the parsley and fennel leaves. I didn’t want to put them in at the beginning and have them end up as much but I also wanted to them to blend in a bit, hence the two thirds result. Curious to know how it might have worked out otherwise.

Watermelon and Coriander Salad:
A nice exercise in size and flavour. If the watermelon is cut into cubes a little smaller than a coriander leaf, the flavours balance out nicely. For the same reason the spanish onion shouldn’t be bigger than one of the smaller buttons on your remote control (no I’m not writing this on the sofa no). Mix together.

Stuff the squid tubes with the risotto and close each one up with a toothpick to prevent rice jizzing everywhere. Place them in an oven tray with a glass of white wine (I used cask Moselle), cover with foil, and cook in an oven at 200C for 40 minutes.

I gave the squid a bit of a sear on a griddle before putting them on the salad. The rice was nice and compact so I could have in fact sliced it up rounds which would have been nice. The fennel taste wasn’t strong at all and matched nicely with the squid. The watermelon salad is great and should be compulsory at summer barbecues.

And there we go, a suitably traditional and diverse dish that didn’t send acrumble our cultural mainsteam of the decent us with the culinary introduction of the them. As for my brother in law Jean [below], he is now an official Aussie: don’t think I’m happy about it, he is no doubt rooting my sister, watches ice hockey, and objectively has a much better motorbike than me. Anyway here’s to 218 years of hey how did you get in here.

Australia's newest citizen


and thanks to whoever voted me into second place as the 2006 Best West Australian Blog . I didn’t mention it as well I’m a bit iffy about comps, as Buddha says “a competition brings with it losers and with losers, unhappiness”. Pleased again to be nudged out by Robert Corr and congratulations to third place on preferences Tama Leaver – for those that aren’t familiar with preferential voting, it means he’s more popular but I’m less unpopular. If you missed out, tough! ahahaha, I mean I meant to say robbed!

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  1. Gracianne’s avatar

    Lovely combination of tastes. Herbs are used more and more to perfume fruit salads, lavender, thyme, rosemary, but I would never have thought of coriander. I have coriander in the fridge, but no water-melon for us until June, alas.
    Congratulations to your brother in law.

  2. Anthony’s avatar

    It was a bit of serendipity he had some watermelon on the bench and coriander and picked up a piece of each and tried it. It’ll give you something to look forward in june. Know what you mean about the fruit salads, nectarine seems to be popping up a bit these days.

    Thanks and I’ll extend the congratulations (you know we were almost a French colony in Western Australia)

  3. keiko’s avatar

    You look sweet in the hat :)

    The salad looks absolutely delicious, congratulations on your win too!

  4. Sue’s avatar

    “rice jizzing everywhere”


    that’s all I wanted to say. Thank you and goodnight.

  5. CW’s avatar

    Congrats on your win!

    And 恭喜发财,万事如意to you too :)

    (That’s gong xi fa cai, wan shi ru yi – Have a happy and prosperous new year, and may all your wishes come true!)

    I wonder if I’ll ever be game to try a watermelon salad some day. Watermelon + onion just doesn’t work in my head… The squid looked and sounded great, though!

  6. deborah’s avatar

    Yah i’ve seen this invasion watermelon in salads in a few recipe mags and cafe meals recently. The other day I was a served a greek salad with watermelon – and what a nice suprise it was as the watermelon was extra sweet alongside the salty feta. Just as suprised when I had an avocado in a fruit salad a few years ago … it turn the whoel salad into a creamy sweet dressing.


    At first I thought the squid was chicken sangers – but then I realised this was a spiceblog creation – so its gotta be a little more fancy pants than chicken in sausage skin.

  7. Anthony’s avatar

    I think you were dazzled by the sparkly hat, that’s my Jean in the picture, we both have a thing for short sleeved shirts.

    I was wondering if anyone would pick that up. Here’s to a new cooking verb!

    Ooh I like the wishes come true bit. Give the salad a try, what’s the worst that can happen? Try it soon while it’s still (kinda) summer here.

    Yeah the use of watermelon in a salad goes back a while, used to be my bbq fave as a kid. Had never seen it with coriander though and I think Neal’s recipe made it into Stephanie Alexander’s book.

    Watermelon is great because it’s sweet, crunchy, and juicy soo that’s a lot of taste/texture covered so you can add other things. Is avacado a fruit?

    I did have chicken sangers on Sunday, so it’s not all fancy pants.

  8. deborah’s avatar

    Just short fancy pants then? :D

    Yah, watermelons are so good for so many things. And you say you didnt have a big foodie childhood – You were eating watermelons before Neale!

    I’d like to see bananas in salads more often. Like how the Indians make a tasty side dish with greenish bananas, coconut, pepper and some other mystery ingredient which pairs with a hot curry really nicely

    Always thought the avo was a fruit – but have hardly seen it in fruit salads…

  9. Ivonne’s avatar

    What an interesting and unique combinations!

    I wish I could say that I’d make that salad right now but it’s not exactly watermelon season here in Canada … but I shall keep the recipe for the summer when watermelon is more readily available.

    Happy Australia Day!

  10. Anthony’s avatar

    They were white rock veal and chicken sausages so fancy shorts which I just happened to buy on saturday. All flash and houndstooth.

    Good point, I was but he came over from England and messed around with it

    More bananas! Maybe guacamole is an unrecognised fruit salad.

    Hi Ivonne
    Cheers. Think of it as something to look forward to, I’m looking forward to nice hot stewy things in winter.

    Happy Australia day to you too!

  11. MM’s avatar

    Love watermelons and even more after watching Joy Luck Club! Nice looking dish which I might actually try for a barbie soon.

    And another … Hou Xi Fatt Choy! Means may everything be prosperous.

  12. Anthony’s avatar

    Hou Xi Fatt Choy to you too MM, I hope so, I’ve a burning desire for consumer goods that doesn’t seem to be met by my current level of prosperity.

    Watermelons -objectively good, made a smoothy woth one this morning.

  13. Sue’s avatar

    I forgot to add, my aunt makes a stuffed squid curryesque stew too. Small squids stuffed with glutinous rice pinned together with toothpicks and stewed in coconut milk and onions and something else…Delicious

  14. Anthony’s avatar

    Wow that sounds like delicious madness. What kind of curry paste?

  15. Sue’s avatar

    I’ll have to find out for you dude. I seem to remember that it was quite sweet as opposed to hot. The color of the stew was stained purple by the ink. It was my favourite thing for a long time.

  16. MM’s avatar

    Oh I know which one you mean. The squid is stuffed with a picture of glutinous rice & pork, garlic and coriander and cooked in a curry which has a rempah of shallots, galangal, lemongrass and sometimes I add sweet potato. Not sure if it is the same as what you mean but I luuuurrve this dish.

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