Eat for Eight Bucks: Squid Noodle Salad with Fragrant Garlic Topping Recipe

Eat for Eight Bucks

Dinner recipes that will keep your stomach and wallet happy from Cara and Phoebe of Big Girls, Small Kitchen

Eat for Eight Bucks: Squid Noodle Salad with Fragrant Garlic Topping Recipe

Shopping List

3/4 pound squid: $2.99 4-ounce package glass noodles: $1.69
1 red bell pepper: $1.73 1 red onion: $0.45 Bunch cilantro: $0.69 2 limes: $0.50

Pantry items: Sriracha, fish sauce, garlic, vegetable oil

Total cost: $8.05

A couple of weekends ago, I was shopping at my local "gourmet" grocery store, a self-satisfied establishment that never seems to let me get away with spending less than $30 on dinner. Determined to break this alarming pattern, I headed straight for the fish counter, looked right past the striped bass and tuna steaks, and asked for some squid.

The fishmonger looked at me as though I'd asked for a fillet of blobfish. He didn't carry it, I was told. Because nobody wanted it.

I found this incredible, because the same store stocks baby cauliflower—in four colors, no less—all year round. Is miniature romanesco really such a hot item and squid such a dud?

It shouldn't be. Not only is squid one of the more sustainable seafood choices out there, it's also one of the cheapest. Delicious raw, grilled, or braised to tenderness, it deserves better than being relegated to occasional calamari duties.

I hope I'm doing it justice with today's recipe, a light, refreshing salad inspired by the Thai noodle dish yum woon sen. Here, the sweet, delicate flesh is seared very briefly, tossed with red onion, bell peppers and slippery glass noodles, and dressed in a Sriracha-spiked mixture of fish sauce and fresh lime. A final scattering of golden-fried garlic brings crunch and fragrance to this tart, cooling dish.


Squid Noodle Salad with Fragrant Garlic Topping


  • For the garlic topping:
  • 6 large cloves garlic, minced
  • Vegetable oil
  • For the salad:
  • 2 1.5-ounce bundles of glass noodles
  • 3/4 pound squid
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • Half a medium-sized red onion, finely sliced
  • Half a red bell pepper, cored and finely sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • For the dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 5 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice (the juice of 2 limes)
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha (or more to taste)


  1. 1.

    Place minced garlic in a small saucepan and add just enough vegetable oil to cover. Cook over very low heat until garlic is a pale golden brown, about 3 minutes. Drain garlic and set aside.

  2. 2.

    Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and cook glass noodles until soft, 1-2 minutes. Drain noodles and keep covered in cold water until needed.

  3. 3.

    Slit squid tubes down one side and open out flat. Cut in 2x1-inch strips. Cut tentacles, if using, into 2-inch sections. Place squid pieces in a small, wide bowl. Add vegetable oil, salt to taste, and toss to coat.

  4. 4.

    Heat a cast-iron skillet, sauté pan or griddle over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Sauté squid until it turns opaque and curls up, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

  5. 5.

    In a small bowl, combine all the salad dressing ingredients. Stir to dissolve Sriracha.

  6. 6.

    In a large mixing bowl, place the squid, drained noodles and remaining salad ingredients. Add the dressing and toss well to coat. Serve generously sprinkled with garlic topping.