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Simple squid success

Calamari: The Finished Product
Photo by Anna Waigand

We’d seen the whole squid, live and on ice, at every fish monger and there are always plenty of good specimens at our local market, but we’d never ventured to buy a whole one. But after our moderate success with cooking sea bream we figured if our favorite fish guys could clean it for us we could cook it up into some tasty calamari.

I’m a big calamari fan in all its forms – grilled, deep fried, blackened etc. It’s been a long-standing tradition that if I’m out to eat with my mom and my step-dad and calamari is on the menu, we will order it. One of the best versions of calamari I’ve ever had was the salt-and-pepper calamari at Chino Latino in Minneapolis, Minn. So we decided to use that and this recipe for Grilled Salt and Pepper Squid as our inspiration.

Cutting the Squid
Photo by Andre Francisco

We bought two whole fresh squid for a whopping 2,500 won, about $2.10, and had them cleaned on the spot. We took away the bodies and the tentacles. If you can’t find cleaned squid or don’t have a fresh fish market to get them cleaned at, check out this great video from wendyow on YouTube. Our squid were cut down the middle to remove the guts so we couldn’t make them into the classic calamari rings and because of the size of our squid they would have been some seriously big rings.

We decided to lightly pan fry the squid instead of deep frying them to make a lighter meal. The squid is rubbed with a spicy mix of salt and chili powder, lightly fried and then served over sauteed onions and red bell peppers with a tangy Korean dipping sauce on the side.

Serves 2 as appetizer, double for meal.
Calamari
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp flour
Health dash of mild Korean chili powder
2 Korean chives, diced
oil
1 squid, cleaned and with tentacles
lime juice (garnish)
2 Korean chives, coarsely chopped (garnish)

Sauce
1/2 tbsp mayo
1/4 tbsp mustard
Healthy squirt lemon juice
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp mild Korean chili powder (replace with Tabasco if you don’t have it or want a less Korean tasting sauce)

Veggies
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 medium white onion
1/2 red chili pepper, seeded, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
vegetable oil
Korean chili powder, mild

Veggies
1. Chop the red pepper and onion into 2-inch slices.
2. Get this started before the squid. If you’re behind on your timing, microwave the onions and peppers for a minute before cooking them. It will speed the cooking process without losing flavor.
3. In a medium wok or frying pan heat the oil then add the bell pepper, onion, garlic, and chili pepper. Stir fry on high heat. Sprinkle chili powder over the vegetables, enough to give them a nice red color but not too much that it’s too spicy. A couple shakes.
4. Saute for 5 minutes or until the edges of the peppers are browned.

Squid
1. Mix the salt, pepper, flour, chili powder and chives in a bowl.
2. Using a knife, take the shiny skin off the squid if it is still on. (We forgot to do this, but we survived, it’s just hard to bite through the skin.)
3. Slice your squid into strips about two inches long. If the squid are small and the bodies are intact you can make them into rings. Make sure to use the tentacles too.
4. Toss the squid strips in the dry mix, making sure they are coated.
5. Heat a small amount of oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. You want to cook the squid in small batches because otherwise you’ll end up over cooking them.
6. Put 6-8 pieces of squid in the pan and fry on medium heat. It is CRUCIAL to not over-cook them as they will become very chewy. They cook almost instantly. Do not talk to someone while doing this. Do not stir whatever you have going on the other burner or take a sip of your drink. Focus on not over cooking them. As soon as they start to curl up and move as if they are alive again, flip them and then take them off 10 seconds later. If you think they’re done, they’re surely overcooked. Taste them between batches and work on your timing. And don’t worry about under cooking them, raw squid is totally fine for you.
7. Mix all the sauce ingredients in a sauce dish and whisk together with a fork.

Calamari: The pedestrian plate

Make a bed out of the vegetables, and place the squid on top. Put a squirt of lime juice over the squid and sprinkle with chives. Enjoy it while it’s hot.

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