For those that have been fortunate enough to visit Greece and enjoy some of the world’s freshest seafood, you would have been offered calamari either fried or in this case, grilled.
I didn’t always eat calamari (squid) but the deep-fried variety is what converted me. However, grilled squid (or calamari) is what cemented my love for this cheap, easy and delicious seafood dish.
Squid can be found at practically every fish & seafood store and most of what’s available has been frozen at some point. Buying frozen is perfectly fine. Just buy from a fish monger that has a good trade and of course, a high turnover to ensure the freshest supply.
Grilled calamari makes for a wonderful first course, it’s great as a shared appetizer, I’ve made calamari souvlaki or it can be served on a bed of seasonal greens as a salad and made into a light dinner.
Wine pairings are pretty straight-forward…a crisp white with some acidity plays best against the seafood and the “ladolemono” or oil and lemon sauce. This past week at the all-day tasting of Greek wines, I had the pleasure of enjoying some wines from all over Greece. One of the whites that I sampled comes from the Glinavos Winery, located in Zitsa, Epirus (north-western Greece).
I tasted the Primus Zitsa 2008 white which is made from another indigenous Greek varietal, called the Debina grape. This light, fruity wine would go very well with grilled calamari and there’s just enough acidity to hold up to the lemon juice.
Let’s get on with the squid. Before one can eat it – one must clean it. I took the time to take snaps of each of the steps to follow when cleaning squid.
- Pull apart the tentacles from the main body.
- Cut off the part of the tentacles section from the eyes and part that was attached to the main body. Discard and reserve the tentacles.
- From the tubular body, pull out the thin, transparent spine of the squid and discard. Stick your finger in to fish out any remaining guts and any broken spine pieces.
- Snip the small end of the squid tube, peel and rub the purple skin of the body and now run under cold water to remove any remaining residue inside the tube. The water should pass through the tube freely once you’ve removed everything.
- Now, if you want your squid to have that accordion-like look with the rings still all miraculously attached to the same squid body, take the handle end of a wooden spoon or spatula and slide it inside the tube.
- Now using a sharp knife, slice your squid horizontally and when done, take the wooden spoon/spatula out. The wooden handle inside the squid tube prevented that part of the squid from being sliced – this keeping your calamari in tact.
- Give your squid tubes and tentacles one more rinse under cold water and pat dry. Now you’re ready to grill your squid.
(makes 1 appetizer serving)
2 medium-sized squid (tubes and tentacles), cleaned
ground black pepper
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/4 lemon
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
- Pre-heat your gas or charcoal grill to high heat. Drizzle your squid with some olive oil, add the minced garlic and sprinkle some sea salt and black pepper. Toss to coat all the squid.
- Place the tentacles on wooden skewers (little chance of losing this part of the squid through the grill). Ensure your grill surface has been brushed to remove any residue and wipe the grill with some kitchen towel that’s been dipped in vegetable oil.
- Place your calamari tubes and skewered tentacles on the hot grill and cook for a couple of minutes a side.
- Remove from the grill and blend your olive oil with the lemon juice and Greek oregano. Adjust seasoning and drizzle over your warm calamari. Sprinkle the calamari with sea salt and some more Greek oregano and garnish with a lemon wedge. Serve with some good, crusty bread.
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