September 19, 2006
Calamari/Squid Stir fry
The first time my brother went home to Calicut on vacation, he raved about this Calamari fish to my parents. It didn’t sound like any fish we were used to eating. It sounded exotic, subtle and non fishy tasting. Since he could not find the native Malayalam name for it, he went to the fish market with my cousin in search of Calamari. When he brought home this ugly looking fish, it turned out to be a squid, an average fish lost in the endless variety of big and small fish available.
A squid is a mollusk related to the cuttlefish and octopus. It has ten tentacles, and like its cousin, the octopus, it also has a protective mechanism which releases a dark ink into the water when in danger.
There in Calicut, a coastal town, you get to buy it whole, ink and all and you have to clean it well to get rid of the inky flavor. Hence, not preferred as much as the cleaned Pomfret, Mackerel or King Fish. Here it is available fresh, cleaned and ready to cook. So I find it an easy alternative to making fish. The meat is firm and white with a mild, slightly sweet/bland taste and it takes on whatever flavors are added to it. Squid is also known as calamari, its Italian name.
The squid ranges from one inch in size up to eighty feet, but the most common size for eating is less than twelve inches. Although the tentacles are edible, the body is the prime section of meat which can be stuffed whole, cut into flat pieces, or sliced crosswise into perfect rings. Squid lends itself to just about every cooking method imaginable and is often eaten raw in sushi dishes. For those who only get to buy it whole, try this link on how to clean the squid.
Also, found our that it is called Kanava in malayalam.
The most common way to eat Calamari is the breaded and fried way, with a spicy or tangy sauce which can be tomato based or cream based. We had our fill of the freshest Calamari in breaded form in Cape Cod, MA. But at home, we mostly make the spicy curry version to go with rotis. This is the way it is mostly made at home, but I added two ingredients. Lemon grass, gives the curry an added flavor and balances the spicy taste. Secondly, a bit of milk or cream is added to blend all the pieces into a sauce.
You will need:
Calamari- 2 (about 6 inch long).
Green Chilies/Any hot chili-4-5
Ginger -1/2 inch piece
Tomato- half of a small tomato.
Red chili powder-3/4 tsp (depends on spice level)
Lemon grass- 2 inch piece
Coriander leaves-1/2 cup chopped
Curry leaves-one sprig chopped
Milk/ Cream- 1/4 cup
Salt-1/4 tsp(to taste)
1. Crush the lemon grass to release its juices. Substitute grated lemon rind or ½ tsp lemon juice. Grind the ginger, garlic and green chilies coarsely. Chop the onions and shallots finely.
2. Wash the calamari and cut it across its length into thin circles. Marinate with ½ the turmeric, chili powder and salt.
3. Heat the oil in a sauté pan and fry the shallots and onions. When it start turning a little brown, add the ginger garlic paste, lemon grass and the stir for a minute. Add the rest of the spices and one tablespoon of water to prevent it from burning. Fry for about 2-3 minutes on very low heat. Add more red chili powder if you like it spicy but make sure it is cooked before proceeding.
4. Add the calamari and stir fry for about two to four minutes. Add the chopped tomato and continue to stir. When the calamari and the spices come together as a mass, add the cream or milk (regular milk is fine) and let it simmer just once.
5. The calamari cooks really fast so do not cook for a long time after adding the calamari. If overcooked, the calamari will turn hard.
6. Take it off the flame, add more salt if needed and add the coriander and curry leaves.
Calamari,Squid, Low Cal,Stir Fry,South Indian,