This post is about moving out of your comfort zone, food wise. Calamari is uber rich and sophisticated. Order calamari in a restaurant and it will be slightly pricier than other items of the menu as with most seafood. I love most seafood, and for many of them I am not sure exactly what it looks like raw. The first day I ordered calamari, it was intriguing because it resembled onion rings. I had eaten it many times, and naively thought the raw version was also ringed shape. Boy, was I wrong and mildly grossed out when I realised it was made with squids. Barf alert. Squids, oh my gosh, I have been relishing squids. Are you kidding me? That slimy octopus looking thing. Oh my goodness. Lol. Calamari tastes great, so I mostly blank out the image of squids anytime I’m eating it
On my first trip to Billingsgate market, I decided to brave it and buy squids. Watching the stall owner pick up handfuls of squids and seeing the slime drip through his fingers, I just stood there saying to myself, Dunni you know you can decline and tell him you are no longer interested. Nevertheless, I paid for it and told him to wrap it in multiple layers of plastic. On getting home, I rinsed it with lime and packed it into the freezer. I never went back to it again for months despite bypassing it every time I opened the seafood freezer compartment to pick up my regular favourites like mussels, prawns and crab. While contemplating making Yamarita fries, I decided to get out the squids and make calamari as part 2 of my finger food posts. What happened in the days preceding making calamari last week saturday was a strange coincidence. I was flicking through channels and I stopped at a life and style channel that I hardly watch, only to see how to clean a squid. My shock at what I watched was palpable. All I did was rinse off the slime with lime juice and chuck in the freezer. Oh, dear. Cleaning squids is so very far from that, I could have given myself food poisoning. If you have never tried cooking squids at home because you have always considered it yucky, I hope I change your mind with this post. With my new-found confidence with preparing squids and enjoying it spiced to my taste and cheaper too, I am going to be exploring other ways of cooking the loads of squids in my freezer. Grilling is another option, or cooking it in a rich stew or in Paella. Today, I will be deep-frying it and serving it homemade Aioli. If you read my last post on Yamarita fries, this will be similar.
You will need
Squids – i used 8
Seasoning – knorr chicken cubes preferred
1 tsp cayenne pepper – dry pepper
1 tsp Curry powder
Aioli – recipe HERE
I will start with instructions on how to clean a squid, so you don’t make the same mistake I made
1. Layout the squids in a bowl/sink. Preferably the sink
2. Cut the tentacles from the body
3. Chop off the bulbous part of the tentacles, squeeze out the black squid ink and throw in the sink. This ink is edible, so you may want to save some to make black (squid ink) risotto or pasta. Using your index finger to feel for the bottom of the tentacles, push upwards towards you and the squid’s eye will come out. As you can see from the picture below (with two black tops). Detach this, and throw in the sink. Next thing will be for you to pull each tentacle through your fingers and scrape off any plasticky feeling bits. The Japanese keep this on, and it taste crunchy, so you can skip this step if you wish.
4. Put your fingers inside the main body of the squid and pull out all the inner bits, just as you would when cleaning fish. Pull out everything.
of importance to note is the transparent vertebrae. You will need to pull that out too
5. Rinse the conical-shaped body of the squid, in and out
cut into rings about 2 – 3cm wide
6. Repeat all the steps for the rest of the squids
the difficult part is over. Now, to turn this into delicious calamari
7. Pour a generous amount of oil in a deep frying pan or saucepan and place on high heat. Get out an empty freezer bag or plastic bag. Prepare the flour mixture using all the dry ingredients i.e. 3 – 4 tbs of flour, 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, salt and half a seasoning cube.
transfer all the rings and tentacles into the freezer bag and shake around to ensure that all areas are coated in flour
8. Break an egg into a bowl, season with the other half of the seasoning cube and whisk. Dip a couple of rings and tentacles into the bowl
9. Place the rings into the pan of hot oil and fry till the rings and tentacles turn golden brown. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: don’t leave it in the hot oil for too long. Golden brown is what you are aiming for. If you are worried about the squids not cooking through, don’t worry, it will cook through and be soft of the inside, crunchy on the outside.
…………….and that’s it. Golden, crunchy and delicious Calamari. Isn’t the yucky squid cleaning experience worth it now? Lol
You can replicate this recipe using fish, prawns, and crabs. Bon Appetite………