BARBECUED SQUID-ON-A-STICK (Ikayaki) SERVES 8 (1 SQUID PER PERSON)
Grilled squid is as much a favorite in Asia as hot dogs are in America— served outside movie theaters, at temples, and of course at night markets. I grew up loving this chewy, briny, everyday treat that’s popular from Kyoto, Japan, to Beijing, China. I like to serve this along with other grilled things like Beef Satay (page 15) or Dango (page 146)—a perfect spread for a summer barbecue.
8 whole fresh squid (bodies and tentacles)
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup mirin
¼ cup sake
3 tablespoons sugar
Vegetable oil, for greasing the grill pan
Remove and discard the head of each squid, leaving the tentacles and body intact. Remove and discard the transparent bone and thin membrane from inside each squid body, and then make small centimeter-long cuts across the body, taking care to keep the body intact. Chop the tentacles in half. Place the squid pieces in a medium bowl.
To make the marinade, combine the soy sauce, mirin, and sake in a small saucepan. Place the pan over low heat, add the sugar, and stir until the sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Let the mixture cool briefly, and then pour it over the squid. Cover and let sit for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, soak 8 wooden skewers in a bowl of warm water for about 10 minutes.
Remove the squid from the marinade and thread each body onto a skewer. At the end of each skewer, add the halved tentacles, piercing through its thickest part.
Heat a grill pan or an outdoor grill and grease the pan or grate with oil. Cook the skewers on the grill pan for about 2 minutes on each side, or until the squid is starting to char. Serve immediately.
Note: Making cuts along the body of the squid helps to cook it more quickly and evenly but also makes it easier to eat off a stick.