Monday, August 10, 2009

Calamari Night

I am happy to report that I survived my third semester of nursing school. There are a couple of things that are less desirable about the end of the semester including way too many hours at the library, too many meals at Subway (because they are the only thing open at MUSC after 8pm), and no time with Rick. When the weekend after another week from you-know-where rolled around, I was excited to spend time with him and cook dinner for us. I have been wanting to do this recipe when I came upon it while searching for stuffed pepper ideas. Rick and I had been talking about doing it since we took a journey across the Ravenel Bridge and visited a little seafood place on the Crosstown by MUSC, Crosby's. In my rush to get the heck out of Dodge on Friday after our poster presentations, I forgot to go by there so I hit Mt. Pleasant Seafood on Shem Creek instead for a little over a pound of squid.

I've never cooked calamari, but I have been a fan of it since I first tried it in Italy back in 1991. When I back came from Italy, very few people that I knew had tried it. My favorite version of it is in frutti di mare, and hopefully one day, I get brave enough to try the frutti di mare recipe that I have in the Italian cookbook that I own. It was the first one that I ever bought for myself, and the main reason I did was for that recipe. Maybe someday soon, I'll get brave enough to make it for Rick and me.

For a side, I decided to go with something easy that we've done before. I marinated a green pepper and half a red onion in balasmic vinegar, soy sauce, garlic powder (feeling too lazy to mince garlic) , and a couple grinds of Italian seasoning. That's my stand-by marinade, and it works really well with the veggies.

Much to my surprise, stuffing the squid was quite easy actually...thanks to a hint from a previous cook on I rolled the sausage mixture into small tubes and then stuffed those in the squid bodies. So easy!

As I stuffed them squid, I wasn't sure what to do with the leftover tentacle and one of the squid bodies that was split in half. Rick came up with the perfect idea to fry them in peanut oil. I put him in charge of those as he has more experience frying things than I do, and I really think that he's better at it than I am. As I've said before, I like to "play" with what I'm cooking which doesn't lend itself to good frying. Rick breaded the tentacles and the lone cut-up, body pieces with the panko-Italian breadcrumb mixture that I keep on hand and then fried them. Yum!! We dipped them in the little bit of leftover marinara sauce that I had in the refrigerator.

The stuffed squid didn't go over as well as I thought that they would. They were good, but they didn't make Rick's Favorites List. In the future, I think that I would serve them with marinara sauce drizzled on top or to dip in if I do make them again. Unfortunately, I didn't have that much on hand Friday night.

The Recipes:

Fried Calamari
1 egg
1/2 cup panko
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
Calamari (don't really have a measurement here since we just used the tentacles and the cut up the one body that was split and unable to be stuffed)
Peanut Oil

Beat one egg in a small bowl. Fill another small bowl with 1/2 cup panko and 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs Dip calamari into egg and then into mixture and place on a separate plate. Pour enough cooking oil into a heavy skillet to cover about 3 inches. Heat peanut oil over medium heat until around 350F. Slowly add calamari to skillet and fry until they are a golden brown (about 1-2 minutes total). Place on another plate that is cover with a paper towel to drain. Serve with marinara sauce of your choice!

Balsamic-Soy Marinade

1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 glove garlic minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Mix ingredients together and use to marinade the vegetables of your choice.

Grilled Sausage Stuffed Calamari

  • 3/4 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (preferably pimentón dulce)
  • 12 cleaned small (3-to 4-inch) squid bodies plus tentacles (about 1 pound total)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • Accompaniment: lemon wedges


Soak bread crumbs in milk in a large bowl.
Toast fennel seeds in a dry small skillet (not nonstick) over medium-low heat, shaking skillet occasionally, until fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Chop fennel seeds and add to bread-crumb mixture along with pork, garlic, paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Gently mix with your hands until well blended. Using a small spoon, loosely stuff squid with fennel sausage, leaving a 1/2-inch space at top (you may have some stuffing left over). Seal tops using wooden picks.
Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium heat for gas); see Grilling Procedure .
Coat stuffed squid and tentacles with oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Oil grill rack, then grill stuffed squid, turning frequently, until golden in spots and an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of filling registers 150 to 155°F, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a platter. Grill tentacles until opaque and curled, about 1 minute, then add to platter. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with parsley.
My helpful hints:

  • To make stuffing the squid easier, roll the sausage mixture into tubes before stuffing.
  • Serve with marinara sauce

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