Monday, 22 January 2018 14:42

Calamari Cure

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In my new Christmas slippers, I padded around the house, unknowingly leaving behind a trail of tiny circles.

The circles were from silicon traction stickies adhered to the soles. When I looked back in just the right light, the floor looked as though it’d been trampled by a herd of calamari: squid that just happened to be slucking through my living room on their way to saltier seas.
It gave me an idea.
Or, rather, it reminded me to steal an idea from Chefhusband, who had a sandwich in mind for next year’s menu.
Meanwhile, I continued to put away the holidays, along with it all the sparkly bits I’ll never, now, be able to get out of my carpet.
I returned to storage all the wrapping paper and gift labels, the leftover cards and Christmas music. Away, too, with the green-and-red tinted sugars, the food colouring and piping bags, the cookie cutters and presses and the holiday wishes written out in frosting.
For, as of that day, I'd reached my threshold for merriment, and back into containment it had to go!
In its place: squid. A dish that, because it strikes me as turkey’s very opposite, may even prove to be a remedy against Seasonal Turkey Trauma, or STT, a widely misunderstood malady of which I, and affected others, are currently in the grips.
It’s a lot like Seasonal Affective Disorder, except there are no handy lamps to help improve one’s disposition. Just, it turns out, a handful of cephalopods, beheaded and dusted in cornmeal, deep fried with hot peppers, and stuffed into buns that have been slathered with tzatziki.
At least for a day, it was the cure for what ailed.
Calamari Sandwiches
For the calamari:
1 package (340 grams) frozen calamari rings
3 fresh jalapeno peppers, sliced into rings
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
flaked kosher salt/freshly ground pepper
canola oil for frying
lemon or lime wedges for garnish and squeezing
Thaw calamari under cold water or in the fridge overnight. Pat dry with paper towel.
Combine flour and cornmeal. Gently toss calamari rings and jalapeno rings in mixture. Place into a sieve and shake gently to remove excess flour. Discard flour mixture.
Fill a medium pot half way with canola oil. Place over medium-high heat until temperature reaches 375F. Carefully drop in calamari, frying only about a handful at a time, making sure to separate the rings. Cook for less than a minute, until crispy and golden (not brown). Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper while still hot. Squeeze with desired amount of lemon or lime.
For the sandwiches:
crusty rolls
tzatziki (recipe follows)
butter lettuce
Slice rolls and spread cut sides generously with tzatziki. Heap with calamari and leaves of butter lettuce.
1 cup plain yogurt (not low-fat or nonfat)
1/2 medium English cucumber, peeled, halved and seeded
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
1 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
flaked kosher salt
Line a large strainer with 3 layers of cheesecloth and place over a large bowl. Spoon yogurt into lined strainer and set aside at room temperature for 3 hours to drain (there should be room at the bottom for the liquid to collect). Discard liquid and transfer yogurt to a medium bowl.
Meanwhile, coarsely grate cucumber. Place in a second strainer and let stand at room temperature to drain, about 3 hours. Discard liquid. Squeeze any excess moisture from cucumber.
Combine cucumber, dill, garlic, lemon juice and yogurt. Season to taste.
Note: If you haven’t any cheesecloth, line the strainer with a triple layer of good quality paper towel. It will wick away the moisture and allow it to drain away without absorbing the yogurt itself.

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