How to Cook the Best Rellenong Pusit (Stuffed Squid)

The waters surrounding the Philippine archipelago are naturally teeming with rich and diverse aquatic life. Different species of fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other marine life abounds in these waters. 

For that reason, the livelihood and food source of many Filipinos revolves around these waters: coastal areas are dotted with communities of people who live and breathe by the rivers and seas. And because of that, Filipino cuisine has many dishes to offer when it comes to the seafood category. 

And that is what we will share with you in this article: a very savory and hearty seafood recipe that won the hearts and the palates of Filipinos. It is a festive dish that is being offered not just in food stalls but also in many restaurants. 

And we hope that you are ready as we are; if so, then let’s go straight ahead in sharing with you the things that you need to learn in cooking the Best Rellenong Pusit there is. 

What is Rellenong Pusit (stuffed squid recipe)

Relleno, or relyeno in Tagalog, is a Spanish cooking term that means stuffed. It encompasses any dishes that utilize stuffing a mixture into any meats or even vegetables. The term is initially used to refer to a Spanish recipe called chile relleno, which means stuffed green peppers. 

And the Relenong Pusit is the Filipino adaptation of stuffed squid, hence the name. Among the selections available for stuffed recipes, the one we share with you in this article probably makes it on the top five list. This recipe signifies festivity and abundance, as squid is highly coveted in the wet market; thus, their price is a bit on the expensive side. 

The bigger the squid you buy, the easier it is to stuff them with your choice of filling, as you will need to stuff the cavity of it. The ingredients that you can use for the stuffing can be modified according to your liking: it can be as simple as chopped onions, tomatoes, and celery. Or you can be more generous by stuffing it with meats like ground pork for a genuinely festive dish. 

The Southern provinces in the Philippines are the go-to places for the biggest and freshest catch of squids. Most of the seafood that is being sold in the market in the cities comes from these parts of the country. 


Ways to Cook 

The good thing about Rellenong Pusit is that it is very versatile. You just have to make sure that you can follow the steps for the stuffing, and it will all be up to you on how you want to have it cooked. And for that reason, there are a few options that you can try at home. 

And to give you a headstart, we came up with a list of practical ways that you can cook this flavorful and festive dish in the comforts of your kitchen. 

Oven-Baked Stuffed Squid

Oven-baked dishes are always a hit, no matter what food they might be. They can be cakes, roast poultries, or baked meats, and it doesn’t really matter: they are sure to be a hit to every dining event. Aside from retaining the foods’ moisture, baking also captures and infuses the natural flavors of the ingredients you’re using for the recipe. 

Multiple types of ovens are available for baking different kinds of dishes: there’s the traditional convection oven, the microwave oven, and the oven toaster. Each is designed to function and cook food for specific purposes, but they all follow the same principle in cooking food: dry heat and revolving that heat inside the oven to cook food. 

The good thing about baking foods, mostly savory dishes, is that you will always get the same quality of food, tender and flavorful since the heat and flavors are trapped inside the oven. And that is the same result that you will be getting for your Rellenong Pusit, provided that you follow the recipe. 

Pre-heat your oven beforehand. This is to ensure that the oven’s temperature is already at the optimal level before sliding in your stuffed squid. Pre-heating the oven lessens the cooking time.

So when your ingredients are mixed beautifully, that’s the time to stuff your squid. Once you’re all set, slide those squid in and set the oven’s timer to the prescribed period. 

Grilled

Another cooking method that brings out the natural flavors of ingredients is by grilling them. The charred and smoky flavor that it provides adds an extra layer of goodness to the dishes you’re cooking. The direct heat coming from the griller also makes the cooking time shorter. 

And with the technological advancements available, even the kitchen equipment has become modernized. This makes cooking even more convenient than ever. And with that, grills are no longer just about using wood or charcoal; there are numerous grills available that rely on electricity. There are also portable grills that you can bring with you anywhere you go. 

Use whatever grill you have at home because the results will be the same, though the cooking time might differ. Follow the stuffing recipe and the steps for stuffing the filling into the squid’s cavity. To avoid burning the squid while grilling them, wrap them in aluminum foil, or you can use banana leaves for added aroma. This also traps the heat, which helps in cooking the Rellenong Pusit faster. 

Stovetop

If you don’t happen to have the most modern kinds of kitchen equipment, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to cook Rellenong Pusit at home. You can definitely use your reliable stovetop cooker at home. They can either be the electric stovetop or the traditional LPG-fueled cooker. 

You can use any type of pan you have, but if you have a cast-iron pan, that’s much better. But so long as you have a durable non-stick pan, then you’re good to go. You can use any kinds of oils that you like for pan-grilling the Rellenong Pusit or a non-stick spray if you want. 

Simply follow the recipe and the steps for stuffing the main ingredient properly. While pan-grilling, make sure to turn the squid over from time to time to have evenly grilled sides. This also ensures that the squid is cooked all the way through. 


Other Delicious Variants and Recipes of Stuffed Squid

Stuffed squid is a very versatile dish, and given that note, there are multiple ways that you can cook Rellenong Pusit. The only limit is your creativity and your confidence to execute them. The available ingredients out there in the market are endless. Just think of ways to make these ingredients blend beautifully with each other. 

We have a list here of equally flavorful variants that you can try to cook at home for starters. See which one suits your taste, and from there, you can try to create your very own variant of this lovely dish. 

With Cheese

Cheese makes everything taste better. Its richness, creaminess, and saltiness complement any dish that it’s added into. Mix it with savory dishes, and makes those dishes richer. Add it into desserts, and the sweetness of that dish is highlighted even further. 

That’s how good and versatile cheese is. And that is why adding them to our stuffing for grilled squid should not surprise you. If you’re asking if dairy and seafood go well together, then this will answer your question. 

Mix all the ingredients for the squid’s stuffing: once the flavors and components are well incorporated, that’s the time to add in the cheese. For milder and creamier flavor, you can use cream cheese. If you want a more intense flavor, you can use cheddar cheese. Quick melt cheese is also recommended for that light yet flavorful dairy tone. 

With Sarsa

Rellenong Pusit is often served with a dipping sauce, usually made with vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and aromatics like garlic and onions. This sauce highlights the sweetness of the squid and the other components of the recipe. 

But for this variation, we will add Sarsa to this already flavorful seafood recipe. Sarsa is simply sauce in English, a thick liquid use to flavor foods. Sauces are usually thick in consistency, made with the addition of thickening against like cornstarch or natural starches coming from the ingredients. 

Proceed with cooking the Rellenong Pusit as indicated in the recipe and the assembly of the stuffing. Once you’re all set, pan-fry the squid first, until they are cooked halfway through. In the same pan, saute garlic and onions, then pour in a mixture of water and ketchup, then thicken this by adding cornstarch slurry. 

Once the sauce is thick and bubbly, put in the stuffed squid until the squids are tender. 

With Ground Pork

Rellenong Pusit is already a festive dish in its own right, simply because squids, especially the larger varieties, are really expensive compared to smaller ones. And we all know that, for Rellenong Pusit, the larger the squid, the better the outcome. 

And to make this dish even more festive, we will be stuffing it with ground pork. Yes, you read that right; nothing will make this recipe grander than stuffing them with savory ground pork mixture. The meaty combination will surely complement the squid’s natural hint of sweetness while giving a fuller bite to the dish. 

For the recipe, the only significant difference is the addition of the pork mixture. So you can proceed with the sauteing of the rest of the ingredients. Once the aromatics are tender, add in the ground pork, and season the mixture well. 

Scoop the mixture out of the pan once the ground pork oil draws out, and the meat changes color. Cool the mixture a bit, and stuff them into the squid, and cook the squid until tender. 

Rellenong Pusit in Tomato Sauce

Tomatoes and all their by-products, such as tomato sauce, are rich in umami taste, which we often describe as savory. That’s because tomatoes are rich in glutamic acid, which provides the distinctly delicious flavor that makes any dish irresistible. 

And a squid is also savory, so adding tomato sauce to Rellenong Pusit will only heighten that flavor, making the dish even more delectable and flavorful. Do not be intimidated by the name, as this variant is relatively simple to make. 

Follow the recipe for Rellenong Pusit as usual. Once the squid is all stuffed and good to go, pan-fry them halfway through. After pan-frying them, saute the aromatics. Once the flavors are drawn out from the garlic and onions are translucent, add the tomato sauce and let it simmer.

Season the simple sauce with salt and pepper, and if the sauce is a tad bit acidic due to the tomatoes, you can balance that out by adding a teaspoon of sugar, preferably brown sugar. 

Crispy Rellenong Pusit

What’s another way you can serve Rellenong Pusit, you say? We got the right idea for you. Why not do this tender and flavorful dish deep-fried and crisp? That’s right, Rellenong Pusit can be cooked and served that way. 

Deep-frying tender meats such as squid does not crisp-up the insides of it. It only creates a crispy outer crust to the squid while cooking and tenderizing the inside of the stuffed goodness. 

To do this variant, proceed with the mixture for the stuffing first. After sauteing all of them, stuff the cavity of the squid and seal them tightly. Next, on a plate, mix 1 cup of cornstarch, and half a cup of flour, then season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Dip the Rellenong Pusit into eggs, then coat it the cornstarch mixture and deep fry them in oil. Make sure to have the oil’s temperature at its highest for a crispier crust. 

Sicilian style stuffed squid

We all know that Rellenong Pusit is already good on its own – no sauce, nor dipping sauce needed- well, these two highlight its flavor. But because this seafood is a very versatile ingredient, we can serve it more exquisitely. 

For this variant, we will be borrowing a recipe from Italy, the home of flavorful dishes such as pasta, pizzas, and many other dishes that are at the forefront of most fancy restaurants. We will be cooking Rellenong Pusit- Sicilian Style. 

The Sicilian style got its name where this particular cooking variant is made famous from Sicily’s town in Italy. The name may be fancy, but the preparation is simple and very straightforward. 

In a pan, saute garlic, the squid tentacles, olives, and breadcrumbs in olive oil. This will be used for the stuffing. You can also add parmesan cheese if you so desire. Then cool the mixture down and stuff them into the squid’s cavity. 

Heat another batch of oil, and saute garlic, then add in the stuffed squid. Then add some white wine. And once the alcohol has evaporated, add in the tomato sauce (or pureed tomatoes if you like), then season with salt. Cook them until the squids are tender but not overcooked. 


Trivia

Squids are very curious marine creatures. But did you know that these very unusual looking creatures have three hearts? Squid also have built-in contact lenses that protect their eyes. 

Aside from these fantastic facts, squids are also rich in protein and omega-three fatty acids- the latter is beneficial for your heart health. 


Tips

We do not want this precious seafood to go to waste because we’re not sure how to prepare them properly. That is why we have a list of time-tested cooking tips for Rellenong Pusit, which will help you be more confident in cooking them. 

  • Look for squid which is shiny and plump: these are indicators of freshness.
  • Squid should smell like the ocean, so avoid the squids giving off an intense or pungent scent. 
  • Cook it briefly to avoid a rubbery texture. 

Troubleshooting

Should you encounter problems cooking Rellenong Pusit, do not fret because we got you covered. We also have a list of proven troubleshooting tips for you to remedy those kitchen mishaps while cooking this wonderful dish. 

  • The rubbery texture of the squid is the result of overcooking them. To fix this problem, thaw the squid at room temperature. Once the texture is more tender, that’s the time to pan-fry them again, this time, quicker. 
  • If the squid’s flavor is not that intense, try rubbing the squid’s exterior with soy sauce and calamansi. This will provide another layer of flavor to the seafood. 

Best Serve With

The sweet, flavorful, and savory Rellenong Pusit is an exquisite treat. And to better enjoy this festive dish, we thought of other dishes that will work well with our featured recipe. After all, we Filipinos love partnering dishes together for a more enjoyable dining experience. 

Vegetables and seafood will always go well together. And this hearty vegetable dish is sure to heighten the sweetness of the Rellenong Pusit. This pairing is hearty without feeling guilty because of how nutrient-packed these dishes are. 

The texture of these two dishes makes them complementary to each other. And the slight saltiness and organic taste of the isaw balances the taste of the squid. Pair these two dishes with a cold glass of beer, and what more can you ask for. 

Nothing beats the comfort of slurping spoonfuls from a warm bowl of soup of Beef mami on a cold morning. Pair this with a dish that gives you a bit of a tender bite, and you have yourself a delightful dining experience. 


Conclusion

With all the marine life found in the country, our choices for good, quality dishes will never run out. And if you’re creative enough, you may even be able to come up with your very own seafood dish that people will love. Though that may take time, then again, that’s our goal: to help you become the best home cook that you can be. 

And once you’ve mastered the tips and techniques we have shared with you in cooking the Best Rellenong Pusit, everything else that you will try to cook in the future will just be easy for you. So until next time, happy cooking!

For more delicious recipe, visit Eat Like Pinoy!

sliced rellenong pusit on a wooden plate with vinegar sauce and cucumber
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Best Rellenong Pusit Recipe

Course Main Course
Cuisine Filipino
Keyword Seafood Recipes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 428kcal
Cost $5-20

Ingredients

  • 4 pcs Large squid cleaned and gutted
  • 1 lb Ground pork
  • 1 pc Carrot cubed
  • 2 stalks Celery minced
  • 1 pc Large onion minced
  • 4 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1 pc Large tomato minced
  • 1 pc Lemon squeezed
  • 1/2 cup Soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Ground black pepper
  • 1 pc Beaten egg
  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1 cup Cooking oil

Instructions

  • Combine squid, soy sauce, and juice from 1 piece lemon (squeezed) and marinade for 30 minutes.
  • Heat oil in a cooking pan.
  • Sauté garlic, onion, celery, and tomato.
  • Put-in the ground pork and cook until the color turns light brown (about 5 minutes).
  • Add carrots, salt and ground black pepper then stir. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn-off heat and let cool.
  • Stuff the marinated squid with the cooked ground pork. Insert toothpicks at the opening of the squid to secure the filling.
  • Dip the stuffed squid in beaten egg then dredge in flour. Set aside.
  • In another pan, heat cooking oil.
  • Pan-fry the squid. Cook each side for 3 to 5 minutes.
    Note: Do not overcook the squid so that it will remain tender.
  • Transfer the cooked squid in a serving plate and serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 428kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 1849mg | Potassium: 468mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 132IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 2mg
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