Thursday, May 3, 2012

Grilled Calamari Salad

When I looking for frog legs to make Grenouille à la Provençale, I saw something that I had never seen before in a grocery store ... large, whole squid.  I am not talking about the little white cones and small tentacles that one usually sees  in the seafood section of most grocery stores.  Those are baby squid.  This particular grocery store had much larger squid, measuring nearly a foot long.  And, while I recognize that squid can grow to as large as forty-three feet long, these foot-long specimens were the largest that I had ever seen in a grocery store.  So, of course, I had to cook with them.

The first question that came to mind is how to prepare the squid.  Fry, saute, or grill.  I settled on the last option, primarily because of the size of the squid.  The only issues with respect to grilling the squid are (1) to ensure that the squid does not become to tough to eat; and (2) to ensure that the squid remains flat during grilling to guarantee even cooking.  The first issue is resolved by the technique recommended for cooking large squid generally ... scoring the inside of the bodies.  Small squid are popular because they are tender.  As a squid grows in side, the meat becomes tougher and more chewy.  By scoring the inside of the bodies, it makes the large squid a little more tender.  As for the second issue, the use of skewers would keep the squid flat as they were grilled. 

The next question was how to serve the squid.  I answered that question with a salad.  It is a healthy option so long as you are mindful of what you add to the salad.  In this instance, I added some diced, roasted bell pepper, some red onions marinated in balsamic vinegar and some tomatoes.  The effort was definitely a success, both with respect to the squid and the salad. 

A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 2-4

3 whole squid bodies
Juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
Juice from 1 lime
1 teaspoon of lime zest
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Pinch of dried thyme
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 bell pepper
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar
2-4 cups of baby arugula

1.  Prepare the squid. Clean the squid.  Using a small sharp knife carefully cut to separate the innards from the back of the body.  Pull out the head and the innards carefully, making sure not to break any of the insides.  Wash the inside and outside of the squid thoroughly.  Using a sharp, thin knife, fine the seam of the squid body (where the backbone/cartilage was) and slice through to open the squid body until it lays flat.  Score the inside of the squid body carefully, making sure that you do not pierce the meat.  

2.  Marinate the squid.  Combine the juice of the lemon and lime, along with the zest, sea salt, sugar, crushed red pepper, thyme, black pepper and olive oil.  Stir well.  Add the bodies and tentacles to the marinade.  Marinate the squid for no more than thirty minutes.  

3.  Roast the bell pepper and marinate the onions.  If you have a gas range, place the bell pepper over one element on high heat.  Blacken the skin, use tongs to rotate the pepper and continue to roast until the pepper is blackened on all sides.  Let the pepper cool down.  Once you can handle the pepper, peel off all of the black skin under a little running water.  Dice the bell pepper.  Also, place the sliced red onions in the balsamic vinegar.  Toss and let sit for about twenty minutes. 

4.  Grill the squid. Soak some skewers in water.  Thread the squid bodies with the skewers so that they will lie flat when grilled.  Also wrap the tentacles around skewers.   Heat the grill on high heat. 


Generally speaking, squid is the type of seafood that pairs best with a white wine.  The grilling of the squid opens up options both for light, fruity whites -- such as a Pinot Grigio -- as well as more rounded whites like a Chardonnay.  Both Clare and I paired this recipe with the following Chardonnay:

Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard -- Chardonnay (2010)
100% Chardonnay grapes
Comus, Maryland, USA
Flavors of pears and apples

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