Calamari

When talking about squid as a menu item, it is normally called calamari. Calamari is quite delicious and can be prepared in a variety of ways. There are some things you need to know when it comes to cooking calamari. Although squid can be anywhere from 1 inch to 80 inches in length, we usually consume the ones that are in the range of 3 to 12 inches.

The meat is firm and white with a light, slightly sweet and nutty taste. It closely resembles abalone or conch in texture. The tentacles can be eaten but, especially with the larger squid, the body is the main focus.

The most popular way to cook calamari is to fry it and accompany it with a dipping sauce, but it can also be braised, sautéed, boiled, grilled, baked or stuffed. Besides hot, it is awesome in salads either with other seafood or alone.

There is one catch. If you don’t cook it properly, it can resemble a thick rubber band — something your palate would not enjoy. With that in mind, your two choices are to cook it fast, usually no more than 2 minutes, or long in about an hour. Anywhere in between those times and you risk eating a rubber band.

There is one recipe that calls for a baking time of about 20 minutes but that is because you stuff the calamari so you need to heat the center and it also is in a sauce, which will help keep it the right texture.

Think of a portion of about 12 ounces of whole squid or 6 ounces cleaned for each portion. For fast-cooked dishes, 4 to 8 ounces is a normal serving. For longer cooking, you will want to go heavy and count on closer to 8-ounce portions because there will be almost a 50 percent shrinkage during the cooking.

If you are thinking of deep frying, look for a body length excluding the tentacles of about 5 inches or less; use the larger squid for long cooking. A 6-inch squid will probably weigh about 4 ounces.

Give calamari a try and enjoy.

Calamari

1 lb. cleaned squid
1 T olive oil
2 lemons, 1 wedged
8 metal skewers
½ T fresh parsley, chopped
½ T fresh sweet basil, chopped
Salt & pepper

Rinse the calamari, dry with paper towel and slice the body down one side lengthwise so it lays open. If the tentacles are large, cut them in half so there are four to a half. Toss in a bowl with the oil, a squirt of lemon, a quarter of each herb and a little salt and pepper.

Skewer the squid lengthwise to keep flat. Grill for 1 to 2 minutes at the most with a turn in the middle over high heat. The meat should be a little opaque. Sprinkle with the rest of the herbs and serve with the lemon wedges.