Whenever I go to a restaurant and they have Calamari on the menu, I am the first one to order it up for an appetizer. In the last few years I have started to catch my own squid in Puget Sound, and have gathered up a nice stockpile in the freezer. This year we had great success squidding on Puget Sound and I decided it was time to make good use of our catch and make good use of it in the kitchen. One recipe that is always a crowd pleaser is Asian-style Salt and Pepper Calimari. I scoured the web for recipes and used a ideas from a few of them. My main goals were to make a great dish, as simple as possible, with as few ingredients and steps as possible. Hope you try it and enjoy!
Salt and Pepper Calimari Ingredients
My goal was to buy a few fresh ingredients to compliment the Salt and Pepper Calamari, and at the same time use as many items already in my kitchen. I want to give credit to those of you that make this super-authentic. However, I wanted to both honor the traditional recipes and yet keep it as simple as possible.
Fried Squid Ingredients
- 1 Pound of Market Squid we caught in Puget Sound near Seattle this winter, cleaned and portioned and marinated in 2 tablespoons of cooking rice wine, a dash of salt and a dash of white pepper
- The Oil: About 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in my cast iron skillet, heated to about 340 – 350 F degrees
- The Dredge: 1/2 cup cornstarch and 1/2 cup flour
- The Batter: 2 eggs and 4 tablespoons half and half
Skillet Seared Ingredients
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tablespoons grated ginger
- 1/2 shallot, minced
- 1 jalapeno, sliced thin
- 1/4 red bell pepper, sliced thin
- 1/4 green bell pepper, sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 satsuma tangerine, sliced thin
- 1 baby lemon, quartered
- Green parsley, chopped
Squid Cleaning and Prepping
I’ve taken the Puget Sound Squid and cleaned them and prepped for frying. I prefer to fry the bodies as rings but you can do it however you see fit.
Dredging and Frying Calamari
First, I set my 12″ cast iron skillet on the stove with about a half inch of oil and set it on medium. Cast iron is great because it evenly cooks but takes a while to heat up. The trick is patience, give the oil time to heat up but don’t overdo it! I wait until the oil is hot enough to create a healthy sizzle when I add a drop of the batter. In cast iron, it takes time for the oil to heat up and just as long to cool down if you need to turn the temperature down.
I took the squid segments and dredged them in the cornstarch/flour, then into the egg wash, then back into the flour dredge, then onto a plate while I get the batch ready for frying. It took a couple batches to get everything fried, but I added a full skillets’ worth of squid at once so they cook evenly. One minute on each side. Once they were done, they were removed from the oil and placed on a wire cooling rack over a cookie sheet. I have learned that placing them onto a paper towel makes them soggy, so I avoid that. We don’t want soggy… we want crispy!
Searing Veggies in the Skillet
A second cast iron skillet was on the stove heated to medium high, and ready for the extras. I added a tablespoon of sesame oil. Garlic and shallots were added first to get them started, then the jalapeno, bell pepper and ginger. Stirring constantly as everything sizzled nicely. Once everything was well seared, I added the fried calamari into the skillet and tossed a couple times to get all the flavors mixed. Then it was time to plate!
Plate it, Garnish, and enjoy!
I picked up a great looking satsuma tangerine at the grocery store and sliced it super thin as a garnish. I plated it, added a light sprinkle of white pepper and kosher salt. Lemon wedges are always a safe choice to add a little citrus flavor to the dish. Some chopped parsley was sprinkled on top just for looks. I must say, that it looked really pleasing when it was ready and tasted even better! I need to give credit to the short fry time for the squid, it was cooked through with a crispy outer layer and tender inner!