First time making – stuffed squid with chestnuts, mushroom and rice (Ikameshi)

I’m a fan of ikameshi (a Japanese dish from Hokkaido made from whole squids stuffed with glutinous rice), but as it’s part of a regional cuisine, it’s very difficult to find in restaurants here. There are many amazing recipes for ikameshi, and this version I’m sharing is by no means the most authentic. I wanted to make it without using my rice cooker or pressure cooker, and more importantly, wanted to make the stuffing much heavier on elements other than rice.

Traditionally, squid tentacles, carrots and bamboo shoots are also used. As autumn is upon us, I wanted to try it with chestnuts, shiitake mushrooms and edamame beans. Shiitake mushrooms are quite strong in flavours, so in order to balance that, the stock that I’m using only contains kombu seaweed/kelp (kombu dashi) and has no bonito flakes. Also, this is not entirely a first time making post – I’ve made it a couple of times with certain variations (hence there are 3 squids in some photos and 2 in others). The main important step I’ve added based on several repeats is soaking /marinading the squid. It really makes a difference to make the flavours sink in.

The prep takes roughly 10 minutes, but there are many instances where you need to leave things marinading or simmering, and the final cooking time is 45 minutes, so you need to leave plenty of time to make this dish.

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Ingredients
2-3 whole squids
3 tbsp of light soy sauce
2 tbsp of mirin
2 tbsp of sake
10 small pieces of kelp
5 shiitake mushrooms
5-6 chestnuts
Handful of edamame beans
1/3 cup of glutinous rice
1 tsp of sugar
Pinch of salt

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Step 1: place the whole squids in a food bag and pour in the soy sauce, mirin and sake. Squeeze out any air bubbles and leave this aside to marinade.

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Step 2: set aside 2-3 pieces of kelp/kombu, depending on how many squids you’re using. Wash and clean the kelp, then place the rest in a big pot of water (enough to cover the squids) and heat – it should take roughly 15 minutes to boil so keep watch.

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Step 3: chop the shiitake, chestnuts and edamame into small pieces.

Step 4: wash the rice and place it into a bowl with the chopped shiitake, chestnuts and edamame, then sprinkle the sugar and salt on to and mix well.

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Step 5: just as the water is about to come to a boil, remove the kombu from the pot and strain off any other scum from the surface.

Step 5: remove the squids from the food bags and stuff loosely with the rice mix – the rice will expand once cooked! Block off the ends with a piece of kombu.

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Step 6: drop the squids into the pot, making sure that the stock fully covers the squids, and cook on covered on low heat for 45 minutes.

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Step 7: remove the squids from the pot, remove the kombu pieces at the end and slice to serve!

What do you think? Did it give you a taste of autumn?

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