A fisherman friend of mine recently caught 35 calamari while he was out for an afternoon paddle, so I figured that he must know a thing or two about cooking these little creatures. His suggestion was to shallow fry the calamari, adding semolina to the flour mix for a crunchier texture. So that’s what I did. I also added ground toasted fennel for extra flavour.
You could easily add a pinch of chilli powder or cayenne pepper for some extra bite.
So here you have my salt, pepper and toasted fennel calamari.
Salt, pepper and toasted fennel calamari
3 calamari, cleaned
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup corn flour
1/4 cup semolina
2 teaspoons of fennel seeds
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying
Watercress to serve
You can ask your fish monger to clean your calamari for you, or you can do it yourself. Karen Martini has a good video that shows you how to do this. Once your calamari is clean, slice off the wings and cut the hood in two, horizontally, so you have 4 flat pieces of calamari plus the tentacles.
Next you need to score the calamari. Run a sharp knife diagonally along each piece of calamari at approx. 0.5 cm intervals and then change directions. You should have a nice criss cross pattern. Be careful not to cut too deep. Once all 4 pieces are scored, cut them (along the diagonal cuts), as well as the tentacles into bite size pieces.
Place plain flour, corn flour and semolina in a bowl. Toast the fennel seeds until fragrant and then grind with a pestle and mortar. Add fennel to the flours along with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Mix together. Add calamari to the flour mixture and toss well to coat. Shake off any excess flour.
To shallow fry the calamari, heat the oil in a wok over high heat. When hot, add the calamari in batches and cook until golden. This will only take a couple of minutes. Remove from the wok and put on paper towel to drain. Continue with the remaining calamari.
To serve, squeeze over the lemon juice and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with watercress. Serve with crusty bread and a nice cold beer. A lovely easy Sunday lunch to enjoy in the backyard when the sun is shining!
Serves 4 as a light lunch/snack