Gulai Cumi Bunting: Padang-style ‘Pregnant’ Squid

A Padang-style gulai dish (a spicy coconut curry). Each squid is stuffed with tofu and egg, and then simmered in the gulai gravy until tender.

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Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk hails from Solo, the historic royal capital and cultural centre of Java, Indonesia. She has been cooking since the age of 12, and also performs and teaches traditional Javanese dance. Her dream is to eventually write her own Indonesian cookbook.

I had a bag of squid sitting in the freezer for God knows how long. I kept planning to make Padang-style stuffed squid, but as usual, I was caught up in work. This week, I finally had a chance to do it after office hours. For me, having spare energy to cook after work is one of the greatest benefits of working from home. 

Gulai cumi bunting (literally ‘’gulai of pregnant squid’) is a gulai dish made of squid stuffed with tofu and egg (the dish is also called gulai cumi isi tahu or ‘gulai of squid stuffed with tofu’). A typical Padang dish, it’s cooked in complex spices and coconut milk. It’s creamy, slightly spicy and very flavourful. 

This gulai dish has an interesting twist, created by filling the squid with mashed tofu and egg. When cooked, the slimy tofu mixture will harden and form a delicate stuffing. Contrasted with the thoroughly simmered squid, the tofu adds a different texture, so delightful to the bite.

A Challenging Dish

If possible, use fresh/frozen squid with firm perfect flesh, because I did have some challenges while cooking the dish. I hadn’t noticed that two of my squid (I had 4) had tiny holes near the tail. I thought it would be no problem, but during the cooking process, the stuffing oozed and the gravy was filled with bits of mashed tofu. Oh well, it’s not a perfect gulai, but it tasted so delicious. As Deyana said, pregnancy proved to be too much for the squid. 

Gulai cumi is perfect for lunch or dinner. To make it a complete set, try pairing it with other dishes such as sambal terong or paru goreng, and don’t forget sambal ijo for that extra kick!

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Gulai Cumi Bunting

Gulai Cumi Bunting: Padang-style ‘Pregnant’ Squid

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Fish & Seafood
  • Method: Boiling
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Halal


Gulai cumi bunting is a Padang-style gulai dish, i.e., a spicy coconut curry. Here, each squid is stuffed with tofu and egg, and then simmered in the gulai gravy until tender.


  • 500 gr big squid
  • 300 gr tofu
  • 1 egg
  • 8 shallots, peeled, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped
  • 10 red curly chillies (or 4 big red chillies), chopped
  • 5 bird’s eyes chillies (optional)
  • 3 candlenuts, chopped
  • 2 cm ginger, peeled, chopped
  • 2 cm galangal, chopped
  • 3 cm turmeric, peeled, chopped
  • 0.5 tsp white pepper powder
  • 1 lemongrass, use only the white part, bruised, knotted
  • 1 salam leaf
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 200 ml instant coconut milk
  • 250 ml water
  • 4 tbsp cooking oil
  • Toothpicks


  1. Clean the squid thoroughly. Remove the bone, ink sack and outer skin. Set aside.
  2. Using a food processor or mortar and pestle, make into a fine paste: 2 cloves garlic and 3 shallots.
  3. Using a fork, mash the tofu into a fine crumble.

    mash the tofu

  4. To the mashed tofu, add the garlic and shallot paste, 0.5 tsp white pepper powder, salt and egg. Mix all the ingredients well.
  5. Stuff the squids with the tofu mix and then secure the tip with a toothpick. Set aside.

    Stuff the squids with the tofu mixStuff the squids with the tofu mixset aside the stuffed squid

  6. Blend into a fine paste: Chillies, the rest of the shallots and garlic, ginger, galangal, turmeric and candlenuts.
  7. Heat the cooking oil in a wok over medium high heat, then sauté the spice paste, lemongrass, salam leaf and kaffir lime leaves until fragrant, around 4 minutes. 

    sauté the spices

  8. Add the water, mix well, then add the coconut milk. Stir until the coconut milk is well dissolved.

    add the coconut milk

  9. Add salt to taste.
  10. Add the stuffed squid, cook over medium high heat until the mixture boils, then reduce the flame to medium low.

    Add the stuffed squid

  11. Cook the squid for about 45 minutes or until the sauce is reduced and the oil starts to separate.
  12. Transfer the squid to a serving plate and serve with plenty of rice.

    Transfer the squid to a serving plate


  • The stuffed squid can also be steamed prior to cooking it with spices. 
  • Use soft or firm tofu for the stuffing. Silken tofu is not suitable.

Keywords: Spicy, stuffing, turmeric, mashing, candlenut

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