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The Seafood Collection: Calamari Antipasto
June 27th, 2011 @ 10:02 PM EST by admin

In the fourth part of the series, we’ll prepare Calamari Antipasto.

This is so easy… anyone who can boil water can make this seemingly exotic dish.

It is equally appealing as individual appetizers served on baby bib lettuce or in a serving bowl to pass among dinner guests or as a feature dish on a buffet table. This should not be confused with cerviche, a raw fish dish marinated in citrus juices and spiced with chilli peppers. Don’t be scared, in this recipe, the squid is cooked.

What you will need:

1 lb. cleaned squid
1 lemon
1-5 oz. jar chopped pimiento
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1-12 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts
1-5 oz. jar sliced olives
Salt and pepper

Easy steps for preparation:

Slice squid crosswise in ½ inch rings (you can get your vendor to do this for you if you are squeamish). Grate the outside peel of the lemon, making about 1 tsp. full. Juice the remainder of the lemon.

Bring 1 quart of water to a boil. Add lemon juice, a healthy pinch of salt, sliced squid pieces and cook for 2 minutes. Do Not Over Cook or you’ll be chewing on rubber bands! Squid will turn opaque. Drain immediately and rinse well with cold water to stop the cooking process.

In a large bowl combine squid, artichoke hearts – along with marinade, drained olives, chopped pimiento, chopped parsley, lemon peel and freshly ground black pepper. Chill 4 to 24 hours stirring occasionally. Served chilled with wedges of fresh lime.

About the main ingredient:

Squids belong to the group of mollusks called cephalopods, which include octopi and cuttlefish. They are quite diverse when it comes to where they reside but the specific habitat depends on the species of squid. Some of them thrive in the warm tropic waters while others do better in water that is at a lower temperature. You will find squid in just about all the major bodies of water around the world. They tend to prefer salt water but there are freshwater locations where squid survive too. The North Atlantic is home to many more species than other habitat locations. The common squid of the east North Atlantic coast belongs to the family Loliginidae. They are also found in large numbers around the Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii, and California. Squid have been identified starting at the Bering Sea all the way to the Sea of Japan.

When cooked properly, the ivory-colored flesh becomes very light and tender. The French call it poor man’s lobster. The most important thing to remember about squid is that it must be cooked either for a very short time, or for a very long time. Frying should take a minute. If you are steaming squid, 5 minutes is ample. When squid is simmered, cook it for at least 40-45 minutes and test with a toothpick to make sure the flesh is tender.

Pairing

Trius Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($13.95) is the very first vintage of this fun, lively and yummy summer wine. Clear and bright with a fresh clean aroma of citrus, green apple, and tropical notes. This wine wakes the palate with refreshing flavours of lemon, lime, grapefruit, and green apple. A lively, medium-bodied white wine with lots of citrus fruit flavours on the finish. It’s wonderful with fresh summer salads, lemon parsley chicken, or just sipping on the patio. Drink while young and fresh.

Hints and tips

Herbs that are supposed to be green should be purchased fresh, not dry. With the possible exception of dried oregano (great in Mexican, Greek and Italian foods), herbs are always better fresh. They’re also cheap and available almost anywhere. In particular, always buy fresh parsley, basil, cilantro, thyme, tarragon, or chives if you can help it (a few should be in your fridge at all times). The dried versions are too delicate and the jar will be bad before you use it twice.

In general, you can substitute one teaspoon of dried herbs for one tablespoon of fresh herbs and vice-versa (which is a one-to-three ratio, by the way). Most importantly, let taste be your guide. Packaged dried herbs start out with a stronger taste than fresh herbs but lose their pungency as they age. If you’ve recently purchased a container of dried herbs, use a light hand, or add a bit more if the herb is older. When possible, use fresh ingredients to gain the most flavour.

Try grinding your our own spices instead of using pre-ground. You use a bit less than the recipe calls for because fresh-ground spices are more flavorful. A small electric coffee bean grinder is the perfect little gadget for this purpose. It is also invaluable when making a dry rub mix for BBQ or a sweat inducing fresh curry powder mix. Be sure to keep one for spices only… I couldn’t imagine curried coffee!

Damon G. Beggs
sparrow_nyc@sympatico.ca

Damon is owner of CATERWAITER Event Catering & Service Staff located in downtown Toronto.