This makes a big heap of yummy.
- About 1 lb of calamari per person
- Cornmeal or corn grits (or polenta) to coat
- Paprika (smoked if you can get it) to flavor
- Anaheim pepper, ground
- A touch of cinnamon and nutmeg for sweetness
- Palm oil or some other high smoke-point oil
The trouble with calamari is that it is tough meat to start with, so cooking it can easily make it
even tougher and leave you with an unchewable rubber texture. There are two ways to cook calamri: very
quickly at high (as hot as your pan can get) heat, or very slowly (hours) at boiling temperature. In this
recipe the calamri is cooked twice, once by the lemon juice, and after by the searing hot pan. The lemon
juice not only cooks, but also flavors the calamari delicously.
- Tenderize by pounding on the bag of calamari with anything handy. I use a lemon squeezer.
- Soak calamri in lemon juice for an hour. This performs half the cooking at room temperature.
- Pull off their heads, which will pull out the guts as well, and remove the cuttlebone by pulling on it. Slice the body into rings.
- Cut the tentacles off the head right in front of the eyes and remove the beak. Keep the tentacles and throw out the rest.
The beak is a tiny hard nub in the center of the tentacles. It comes out easily from the cut side if you squeeze (which makes it pop up) and pull on it.
- Mix with the rest of the ingredients and cook very fast at high heat in the palm oil. The red palm oil gives the dish a wonderful orange color.
Cook no more than 2 minutes. Further cooking will toughen the calamari again.