If you’ve ever wondered what is calamari, well, here’s your answer. Calamari is the Italian word for squid. A delicacy in more than the Mediterranean, calamari is widely popular throughout the world. Yes, it is the Italian word for squid but it’s not to be confused with its similar, but different relative – the octopus.
A mollusk: some experts distinguish slight variations between calamari and squid. However, on most restaurant menus and in most fresh fish markets the two words are virtually interchangeable. When it comes to cooking with calamari, it all comes down to individual preference – calamari can be sliced cleanly into rings before cooking, or prepared with tentacles visibly remaining.
In Italy, calamari is commonly served as an appetizer, or in soups and various kinds of pasta. In America and in England, it is generally served battered and fried, with a dipping sauce, as an hors-d’oeuvre.
How does it Taste Like?
Calamari is firm, white meat, with a slightly sweet taste, and a moderately chewy texture. For some, the chewiness takes a bit getting used to but once the texture is understood and appreciated, most people go back for more. Yes, it’s an acquired delicacy, but worth the try.
Note: If you shy away from calamari because when you tried it in the past the texture was similar to rubber bands, it was simply overcooked. Give it a try again, but be sure to limit the cooking time.
Generally breaded, then quickly fried to a golden brown, it can be served with lemon, malt vinegar, a lemon wedge, or with tartar or marinara sauce. Here’s a simple fried version that’s easy to prepare
Dip calamari in flour that is seasoned with salt, pepper, and oregano. Then deep fry the calamari pieces in hot oil for about 2 minutes, or just until golden brown. Be careful not to overcook the squid, which would only increase its already slightly chewy texture. Serve the appetizer with your favorite dipping sauce, such as vinegar, lemon juice, or marinara. Or you can place the cooked calamari on a paper towel and after cooling simply add it to your favorite salad.
Want to be Creative with Calamari? Let Us Count the Ways:
Instead of batter, you can also sauté calamari in a bit of extra virgin olive oil. When the squid is almost cooked, quickly add chopped garlic, parsley, coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, a pat of butter, and finish it off with a splash of quality white wine. Serve the calamari hot with lemon wedges.
Take fresh purchased calamari pieces from the grocery store and put them immediately into the refrigerator. Keeping them cold before prepping is important. Whisk extra virgin olive oil with freshly squeezed lemon juice, coarse salt, ground pepper, garlic, and chopped parsley.
Take the calamari tubes and place them on a hot grill. Cook quickly for about 1 minute per side. Remember: fast cooking will prevent much of the chewiness. Then, with a sharp knife, slice the calamari into thin rings. Quickly, toss it into the marinade, and it’s ready to serve.
Simmer your favorite marinara in a pot on the stove. Prepare your stuffing in a bowl, blending breadcrumbs, coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, egg, and parmesan. Take the chilled calamari from the fridge and stuff the tubes with the mixture. Then, gently place them in the sauce, cover with a lid, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the stuffing is fully cooked. This is great served over pasta, or delicious as a stand-alone meal.
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