Calamari or squid has been the bane of my existence! As much as I tried, I just couldn’t get the cooking method right, ending up with chewy, rubbery, boiled calamari pieces every time! Finally, I sought out the advice of a friend of mine who is known for his culinary skills when it comes to serving up the bounty of the ocean. With his advice scribbled on a piece of treasured napkin, I finally managed to pull this together, and it was mouth-wateringly delicious, even if I do say so myself… and I do!
Honey-Soy Calamari with Oven-Grilled Green Veg and Honey-Charred Lemon Wedges
Ingredients 500g frozen Calamari Strips A handful of Green Beans (15 – 20, depending on how big your hand is) 4 Marrows 6 large leaves of Spinach, washed… thoroughly. 10 Button Mushrooms, halved. 1 Lemon, cut into 8 wedges 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce 2 Tbsp Honey 1 tsp Fish Sauce 2 tsp Crushed Garlic 1 tsp Lemon Juice Fresh Basil, chopped. Olive Oil Salt and Pepper to taste
First thing in the morning, take the calamari out of the freezer and place the frozen strips in a bowl filled with milk. This will help tenderise them. Leave to defrost.
Place the vegetables (except the spinach) in a glass bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss in a teaspoon of garlic and season lightly with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Place the veggies evenly on a baking tray. Put your oven on the grill function with the oven rack low in the oven and grill the veggies for 10 – 15 minutes, keeping an eye on them so that they don’t burn.
Steam the spinach in a pot (or a steamer if you have one) gently until the leaves become softer. This shouldn’t take too long, roughly 5 – 10 minutes. But while your one eye is on the veggies in the oven, try to keep the other on the spinach to ensure that the leaves don’t become too limp.
Once the veggies are done grilling, remove them from the oven and, with the grill still on, lift the oven rack higher in your oven so that it is closer to the element. Place the lemon wedges on baking tray and drizzle with honey. Place the tray in the oven and allow to grill for 1 -2 minutes, depending on the heat of your oven. You want to keep a close eye on this because the honey and lemon should become only slightly charred but the lemon needs to retain its juice so you want a high heat but very little time in the oven.
And now for the tricky stuff! Remove your calamari from the milk and drain off any excess moisture by allowing them to rest on paper towels. You want the strips to be dry when you fry them. While you are waiting, mix the garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, honey and olive oil together to form a marinade. Place a pan on the stove and turn the heat up to its highest setting. Add some olive oil to the pan and once the oil is really hot but before it starts smoking, toss the calamari strips into the pan. Season with salt and pepper while in the pan. You want to fry it for roughly a minute on each side depending on the thickness of your strips. If you have a small pan, don’t fill it with calamari as this will reduce the heat. Fry it in two batches to ensure that the heat remains high. Finally, about 30 seconds before you are planning to remove the calamari from the pan, pour in some of the marinade and toss the strip in the marinade. This should get you a sticky golden coating.
Place the spinach on your plate with the roasted vegetables on top. Then scoop strips of calamari onto the vegetables. Once all your calamari is out of the pan, place the remainder of the marinade in the pan to allow the garlic to cook slightly and the marinade to thicken (roughly 1 minute) and then drizzle over the calamari strips.
Garnish with chopped fresh basil leaves and the charred honey lemon wedges, which you can squeeze over your calamari. *drool*
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