A lot of people find calamari chewy and tough… well let me tell you – if you make your own you won’t think that any more!
Squid are fascinating creatures that change colour in an almost alien like way and they squirt black ink as a defense mechanism. The fact they feed mainly at night and are attracted to light make wharfs and piers the ideal fishing location to jig for squid.
In summertime, they can been found swimming close to the surface after dark attracted to the light of the wharf in some harbours of Atlantic Canada. I have been lucky enough to catch fresh squid on a few occasions (they are a lot of fun to jig). Even if you don’t have squid in your area natively many supermarkets carry it frozen. My suggestion is to speak to the staff in the seafood counter and ask if they have any. Often they have it frozen and only take out a bit at a time to put in their display case.
Cajun Deep Fried Calamari
1 lb fresh (or previously frozen) calamari cut into 1/4“rings & keeping tentacles – see note below on cleaning and preparing.
¾ Cup white all purpose flour (I use Bob Red Mills Gluten Free 1/1 flour)
¼ Cup Corn flour
1 ½ teaspoon Cajun Seasoning (I use Emeril Legasse’s Essence – the recipe can be found online)
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Cup Buttermilk
Kosher Salt & Dried Parsley for plating
Oil for frying (canola or other)
Place calamari rings and tentacles in a medium glass bowl with the buttermilk and stir to combine.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate. Ideally for a couple of hours but minimum 30 minutes.
Heat oil to 375 degrees F. This can be done by using 3-4” of oil heated over medium heat in a large deep pot but it’s preferable to use a deep fryer. If you are using the pot method make sure you have a thermometer that will monitor the oil temperature as hot oil can be very dangerous if you do not.
Place the all purpose flour, corn flour, Cajun seasoning and baking powder in a medium bowl; stir to combine.
Remove each piece of squid from the buttermilk (allowing the excess buttermilk to drip off) and dredge in the flour. Place coated squid on a plate. A fork works well for this step.
Repeat the process until all pieces are coated.
Place 8-10 pieces of squid in the hot oil.
Pay close attention as the squid will cook fast! Fry for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove the squid from the oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat the process with the remaining squid.
Sprinkle Calamari with kosher salt and a pinch of dried (or fresh chopped) parsley.
Cleaning and Preparing Squid
When it comes to cleaning and preparing squid to make calamari there are a few tricks that you need to know if you are getting whole squid. The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife have a good post on how to do it. For this recipe, I use the method illustrated in Method B in the link below.
1 Tablespoon Dehydrated Minced Onion (can substitute for minced fresh onion or shallot)
1 Tablespoon finely minced fresh Jalapeño pepper
1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients with ground turkey mixing well with a rubber spatula.
Form burger patties using 1/2 cup of the mixed burger. A burger press works best for this task. Spray the press lightly with oil to prevent sticking in the press (will also help prevent sticking when grilling). If doing by hand – moisten hands with water lightly to shape burgers.
Place shaped burgers on a platter and chill until ready to grill.*
Grill over medium heat 5-6 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches at least 165F
* Cut squares (4-5”) of parchment paper or wax paper to place burger on. This will allow you to put them on the grill more easily.
The Pampered Chef Burger & Slider Press works great with this recipe – check it out here Burger & Slider Press
Easy sauce to pull together that is great for Ribs, Beef & Chicken. I have tried a number of different recipes over the years and could never find one I liked. They were either too vinegary or too running.
What I discovered is that I liked the ones with the Molasses the best! It likely had something to do with molasses bringing me back to my childhood when my grandparents would let me cut a slice of the bread that had just came out of the oven. The butter would melt with the heat and then it was dipped in a pool of molasses I had poured on my plate! Yum!
In this sauce the molasses & brown sugar gives it a wonderful dark colour and a rich flavour while they cayenne & chilli flakes give it a touch of heat.
Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Cup Chopped White Onion
2-3 Cloves Minced Garlic
2 Cups Ketchup
½ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 14 oz Can Tomato Sauce
3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
3/4 Cup Molasses
½ Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
½ Teaspoon Dried Chilli Pepper Flakes
½ Teaspoon Black Pepper
¼ Teaspoon Cayenne
1 Teaspoon Liquid Smoke (You can skip this but it is better with it. It can be found in most major grocery stores. It comes in a bottle about the size of a typical hot sauce)
Preheat a medium sauce pan (e.g. 3L) over medium heat & add oil
Sautee the onions til translucent – 4-5 mins. Stirring to prevent browning – you want them soft and clear not caramelized. Once onions are soft – add Garlic continue cooking for 1 additional minute.
Add Ketchup, Apple Cider Vinegar, Tomato Sauce, Tomato Paste stirring until the mixture comes to a simmer. If it starts to bubble – reduce heat slightly. Simmer for 5-6 mins uncovered. Stirring often.
Add remaining ingredients – stirring well to ensure that all ingredients are dissolved. Bring mixture back to a simmer (not boiling).
At this point you want to blend the sauce to ensure a nice smooth consistency. I use a handheld immersion blender in the pan. Working carefully to remove any chunks from the hot sauce. Work carefully as hot sauce will hurt if you get it on your hand and will also make a mess on your stove if you are not careful. You could also use a regular blender – transfer the hot sauce – pulsing it in the blender until smooth – then return to the sauce pan.
Once smooth – cover and allow sauce to simmer 20 mins. This will allow the flavours to blend.
Store in mason jars in the refrigerator. Will keep for several weeks.
Soak cedar plank in water for 1-2 hours minimum (or overnight). You may have to weigh it down to stay in the water.
In a small saucepan, combine Maple Syrup, Rum, Onion, Ginger, Garlic, Soya Sauce, Chili Powder, Salt & Pepper.
Heat over medium-low heat until reduced by half, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool completely.
Once cool place Salmon in Ziplock bag – pour in cooled glaze. Working gently, remove as much air as possible and place in fridge for 1hr.
Heat grill to medium heat, about 400°F.
Once preheated – place cedar plank on grill – leave for 5 mins to remove initial moisture.
Sprinkle plank lightly with coarse sea salt – helps fillet from sticking and adds flavor.
Carefully remove fillet from ziplock (reserving glaze)
Place salmon, skin side down, on the cedar plank.
Brush reserved glaze.
Grill salmon 15 min, or until it is cooked to your desired doneness, brushing with sauce every 5 minutes or so.
Remove from grill.
Slide a thin spatula under the fillet to remove . Serve immediately.
Skinless fillets will work for this recipe as well
Dehydrated onion can be replaced with fresh minced shallot
This recipe can also be done in a cast iron skillet in the oven. Follow steps 2-4. Preheat oven to 400. Remove from ziplock place in cast iron skillet. Reserving glaze. Brush salmon with remaining glaze. Bake 15 mins or desired doneness. Slide a thin spatula under the fillet to remove . Serve immediately.