Calamari – What is it? It is the body of a large Squid with no head; a great protein food source low in fat often referred to as Humboldt Squid. It is tough and rubbery and always should be tenderized before cooking unless you use a slow cook method. Sometimes available fresh in fish markets, but most often purchased frozen. It can also be purchased online. The frozen product usually comes tenderized, but I always hit it again with a meat mallet to be sure my finished dish will be tender. This tenderizing step is similar to my Abalone preparation. The steaks I use are five to six ounce portions, about a quarter inch thick. Price per pound fluctuates with market but fairly consistent at $5.00 per pound. Grab your apron and head to the kitchen – let’s get cookin’.
Thaw steak overnight in refrigerator or to thaw quickly, place in a container of cold water for about 15 minutes until pliable.
Place steak between two sheets of cling film and lightly pound with meat mallet. It is best to pound from the edges and work toward the center. Don’t pound too firmly as the steak will tear and be difficult to work with. It normally doubles in size after pounding.
Use the standard breading procedure. Dredge in seasoned flour, dip in egg wash, and then place in breading media to coat. I use Panko, but crushed Saltine Crackers also work well. During the breading, the thin steak may be a little difficult to work with. Don’t worry if it breaks in two, just bread both parts. After breading, you can go right to sautéing then service. The tenderized steak can be refrigerated an hour or so before cooking or wrapped and frozen for future use. The quality is best if cooked soon after breading. In many restaurants, it is breaded to order then sautéed.
Use Canola or Vegetable Oil. Choose a frying pan large enough to accommodate the size of the steak. The oil should be approximately a quarter inch deep and brought up to temperature before placing steak in pan. Do not deep fry. Oil should lightly sizzle when steak is sautéed and not crackle like a house afire. If that happens, the oil is too hot. The best way to check oil temp is to lower the edge of the steak into the oil and it should gently sizzle then place the whole steak in. If there is no sizzle, the oil is not hot enough so wait for the temperature to come up. Sautee on both sides until golden brown, this should not take more than four minutes. If the steak starts to curl during cooking or if it gets an air pocket underneath it, cut the edge or pierce the pocket with a paring knife until the steak lays flat.
When cooking is finished and steak is plated up, drizzle one or two tablespoons of melted butter and a squeeze of fresh lemon over the top. Garnish with fresh chopped Parsley; best served immediately.
If you’re serving several people and don’t have room on the stove, it’s okay to hold the cooked steaks in a 200 degree oven until served (best no more than 10 minutes). On the yacht, we accompany this dish with fresh tartar sauce or a homemade Arrabbiata Sauce with Angel Hair Pasta. Dish pairs well with Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Chardonnay or a nice Pinot Noir.
Butta Bing, Butta Boom!