Calamari (Kalamarakia Tiganita)

Headed south from Baltimore, it was a beautiful, but unfortunately, no-breeze kind of a day. Engine on, the waters were mostly calm except for the hold-on-to-your-beer power boat wakes that knock you everywhere. We were still loving Mediterranean food, dining the evening before in Little Italy. Fresh pasta, mussels, Pino Grigio…the works. Everything but Calamari. I knew we had plenty of squid on board Night Town and could prepare that under way. But little did I realize that I would not be making Calamari, but…Kalamaria.

Sometimes you just need a little culinary inspiration. Looking at this photo you might think we were cruising in Greece. Not so much, but almost as good… SV Aegean pulls into the slip next to us in the Fells Point harbor. They could hardly go unnoticed, three jovial guys motoring into their slip, throwing dock lines, calling out orders in Greek, pulling out the wine and Ouzo…the classic Greek “We’ve arrived!!”

Oh boy, I had to meet these guys. I just knew they’d be a good time. So I made my way over with a quickly re-learned “Yassas!” and pretty soon was talking about Retsina with George and Dolmades with Christo. And of course got a tour of their galley, as all Greeks love food. And music. Harry brought out the bouzouki and soon the H Dock was filled with the sounds of the Plaka. Before the sun set the party moved over to our cockpit and was overflowing with Greek appetizers and lots of laughs.

You know when you eat seafood that most watermen use as bait, it’s going to be cheap. And it really is. So don’t feel guilty if you buy too much or don’t get around to cooking it…it can always be put to good use on a fish hook.

Just look at these beautiful baby squid with their white mantels and 8 little purple-pink tentacles. These little arms are complete with suckers, just like their relative, the octopus. (Poor Squidward was created with only 4 arms. But at least he could play the clarinet. : )

Kalamaria

1 lb. baby squid
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons corn starch (optional)
1 tablespoon salt or seasoned salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
4 cups Canola Oil
Fresh ground sea salt
Lemon wedges
Dipping sauce (this can be Remoulade, cocktail sauce or tomato sauce)

Chop the squid into 1/4″ rings. Mix the flour and seasonings together. Here’s my take-away on adding corn starch: The traditional Calamari recipes don’t use corn starch. And I didn’t today. But I’ve noticed that some recipes do call for it and I actually think it would be a good idea to use. It will help keep the flour mixture sticking to the squid so it will fry a little crispier. Next time I’m going to try that.

So I could really use some advice from all you Calamari experts out there….what is the best way to flour those little tiny rings to make sure they get coated thoroughly inside and out? I do it by hand, one at a time. So in that sense, typical of many great recipes, it takes about 4 times as long to prepare them as it does to eat them. There’s got to be a better, faster way. Any advice is welcome!

And here’s where a lot of you sailors get a little wonky…hot oil under way. I understand that. You can only do it under the right (smooth sailing) conditions. If you do fry anything under way, be sure to use just an inch or two of oil in a very deep dished pan. A pressure cooker with a fry basket would work great, but be sure to have lots of paper towels ready…not too close to your stove…to clean up dripped oil. You know the drill. And be sure your stove is swinging free on its gimbal.

Get your Canola oil nice and hot. One way to tell if your oil is hot enough is to drop a popcorn kernel in the oil. When the kernel pops, your oil is roughly 350º or hotter. Gently submerge the breaded squid in the hot oil. Fry for about 5 minutes or until golden and crispy. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon or metal tongs. Place on paper towels to soak up the extra oil and grind a generous amount of sea salt on top. Then transfer onto a serving platter with a small dish of cocktail sauce, Galley Pirate’s Remoulade or tomato sauce.

Squeeze a little lemon on top and give the plate to the prettiest girl in the cockpit. I’ll bet the crew aboard SV Aegean wishes they were on Night Town now!! Kalí óreksi!

One thought on “Calamari (Kalamarakia Tiganita)

  1. Count on Galley Pirates to always have a lovely story of friendship (new and old) to go along with an interesting recipe, one of my favorites.

    Like

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