FYI: There will be minor spoilers for the Avatar: The Last Airbender series in this post!
One of the most endearing creatures in the captivating world of Avatar is the pentapus, a charming five-tentacled sibling of the real-life octopus.
In an ingenious scheme, Sokka cleverly employs pentapusi (I suppose that would be the plural form of pentads?) to liberate the captured city of Omashu. By feigning “peta-pox” and using the suction cup marks left by the pentapus on the ‘sick’ inhabitants’ skin, he tricks the Fire Nation guards into releasing all the trapped citizens. The entire population walks out the front gate, much to the Governor’s dismay, especially since his child happened to accidentally be ‘kidnapped’ by those leaving the city.
Now, while the pentapus might be adorably mischievous, I’d like to believe that their tentacles were not used in the famous tentacle soup of the Northern Water Tribe. Luckily, pentapusi (????) don’t exist in real life, and I don’t feel guilty about consuming squid—they have just the right level of ‘ugly’ to satisfy my appetite. That’s why I’ve chosen squid as the star ingredient in my version of this Water Tribe classic.
As an avid fan immersed in the Avatar universe, you probably know that it draws heavy inspiration from real cultures, particularly Chinese, South Asian, and Indigenous societies. The Water Tribes, nestled in the North and South poles, find their influence in Inuit and Eskimo cultures, with delightful hints of aboriginal heritage sprinkled throughout (remember Sokka’s trusty boomerang?).
Being a culture that thrives on the bounties of the sea, it’s only fitting that a seafood soup would hold a special place in their culinary repertoire. This version carries a subtle Asian flair, paying homage to their diverse influences.
Here’s What You’ll Need
- Calamari squid: Adds a tender and flavorful seafood element to the soup.
- Jumbo tiger shrimp: Provides a succulent and meaty texture to complement the squid.
- Chicken broth: Forms the flavorful base of the soup, enhancing the overall taste.
- Red curry paste: Infuses the soup with a spicy and aromatic flavor profile.
- Lemon: Offers a tangy and citrusy note to brighten the flavors of the soup.
- Ginger: Adds a warm and earthy undertone, enhancing the overall depth of the dish.
- Chile peppers: Provides a spicy kick and adds heat to the soup.
- Fish sauce: Contributes a savory and umami flavor to enhance the seafood taste.
- Green bell pepper: Adds a fresh and crisp texture, along with a hint of sweetness.
- Mushrooms: Enhances the umami taste and adds a meaty texture to the soup.
- Ghee or butter: Provides richness and depth of flavor when sautéing the ingredients.
- Basil and/or cilantro: Optional garnish that adds freshness and aromatic notes to the finished soup.
Let’s Get Started
I was fortunate to find pre-cleaned squid at my local grocery store, so I simply sliced the body into rings while leaving the head (and tentacles) intact.
Sauté the squid along with shrimp, and any other seafood of your choice, until they become tender, and the shrimp takes on a lovely reddish hue.
Next, in the same pan, sauté the peppers and mushrooms together with garlic and ginger, adding a touch of butter or ghee, until they soften and start to develop a gentle golden brown color. Don’t forget to sprinkle in the chile peppers for that extra kick!
Add a dash of fish sauce to the pan, followed by a few teaspoons of red curry paste. Stir the ingredients until well combined and let the mixture simmer until it reduces by half, allowing the flavors to meld together beautifully.
Meanwhile, in a separate soup pan, pour in the chicken broth, and then add the sautéed pepper and mushroom mixture. Let the soup simmer for several minutes, allowing the flavors to mingle and harmonize. Finally, introduce the seafood into the simmering broth and let it all bubble away for an additional 3-5 minutes, ensuring the flavors infuse perfectly.
When you’re ready to serve, ladle the steaming hot soup into bowls, and garnish each with a sprinkle of fresh basil and cilantro, adding an aromatic touch that will delight your taste buds.
Helpful Tips to Making Homemade Tentacle Soup
- Proper cleaning of squid: Ensure to clean the squid thoroughly, removing any innards and rinsing them under cold water before slicing.
- Sautéing seafood: When cooking the squid, shrimp, and tentacles, make sure not to overcook them to maintain their tenderness and avoid rubbery texture.
- Adjusting spiciness: Control the spiciness of the soup by adjusting the amount of red curry paste and chile peppers according to your taste preferences.
- Consistency of the soup: If you prefer a thicker soup, you can let it simmer for a longer duration to reduce the liquid further. Alternatively, you can add more chicken broth to achieve a lighter consistency.
- Garnishing options: Experiment with other herbs like mint or parsley for additional flavors and visual appeal.
- Adding vegetables: Feel free to incorporate other vegetables like bok choy or bean sprouts for added freshness and nutrients.
- Serving suggestions: Consider pairing the soup with steamed rice or crusty bread to complete the meal.
- Storing leftovers: Refrigerate any leftover soup in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days. Reheat gently on the stovetop, adding a splash of water or broth to maintain the soup’s consistency.
Now, it’s time to go on your own adventure! Perhaps you’ll release the boy trapped in the iceberg, restore your honor with Fire Nation Turkey-Duck, or just remember to protect your beloved cabbages! And if you’re feeling creative, you can even pay tribute to the Air Nation by baking some simple yet scrumptious fruit pies.
Stay hungry, my fellow Hungry People, and may your culinary journey be as exciting as Aang’s quest to bring balance to the world!
Tentacle Soup | Avatar: The Last Airbender Recipes
- 5 calamari squid cleaned & tentacles included
- 6 jumbo tiger shrimp deshelled & tails removed
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons red curry paste
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1 tablespoon ginger minced
- 2 chile peppers chopped
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- ½ cup green bell pepper chopped
- ½ cup mushrooms chopped
- 2 tablespoons ghee or butter
- basil and/or cilantro for topping, optional
- Clean and slice the tops of the squid into rings, reserving the bodies and tentacles. Remove the shells and devein the shrimp.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in a skillet. Add the squid rings, tentacles, shrimp, and minced garlic to the pan. Cook until the squid is turning brown and the shrimp is red, approximately 2-3 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.
- In the same skillet, add the sliced peppers, mushrooms, chopped garlic, and ginger. Saute for a few minutes until the peppers have softened and the mushrooms are releasing their moisture.
- Add the fish sauce, red curry paste, and lemon juice to the skillet. Stir well to combine and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.
- In a saucepan, heat the chicken broth and add the pepper and mushroom mixture. Let the soup simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the cooked seafood to the soup and simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Garnish with basil and cilantro, if desired. Serve hot on a cold day and enjoy!