Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April showers bring Grilled Calamari

Maybe it was the wind, maybe it was the thunder storm, or maybe it was just my stomach growling like the thunder storm... I was craving for grilled calamari. Really, nothing was ever mentioned, but somehow I had this urge to chew some calamari and taste that tart and lemony dressing. So, I went and bought some calamari at Whole Foods. I assume people can usually buy them frozen at any grocery stores. And I would assume the "fresh" ones I bought at Whole Foods were probably frozen at some point. But it just looks nicer when it's all cleaned and thawed, slimy and fishy.

The last good grilled calamari I had was in Cyprus. That place would forever be engraved in my heart... But the Mediterranean seafood Meze really was something. You can't complain about the real "fresh" seafood and the variety. Just look at the squid below, so thick and fat! And even thought I already tried to buy the nicer kind from Whole Foods, it was no where close to that thickness...

I don't know if I was inspired by this Cyprus Meze or not. But looking at this picture right now, I just realized I stole their idea in pairing the dish with asparagus. Their asparagus was a lightly egg battered/ sauteed, while mine is sauteed with leeks, onions and mixed in with some pine nuts. Em, same thing.

Grilled Calamari with Sauteed Asparagus and Leeks

4 or ~1/2 lb Calamari (fresh or frozen) with tentacles 
1 tsp Thyme
1/2 tsp Oregano 
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp Olive Oil 

1/2 lb Leeks
5-6 thin Asparagus
1/2 Onion
2 cloves Garlic
1 tbsp Pine Nuts
1 tbsp Butter
Salt and Pepper

Rinse the pre-washed and cleaned calamari. Slide open the tubes and gently score over the back of the calamari. This will help marinate the calamari and also create pattern when it is getting cooked and curled. Marinate the calamari in a bowl mixed with the thyme, oregano, lemon juice and salt. Keep it refrigerated for 20 min. Use this time to prepare for the asparagus and leeks.
I used the Griddle at 350 degF, but this varies with what grills you have at home. You can definitely take this out on your Green Egg or Weber. I just don't have the luxury to do so... Oil a medium sauce pan at high heat. Sear the calamari with the olive oil first, then place them on the grill.  Grill for 5-8 minute (depending on how thick the squid is), until it turns opaque. 

Slice and chop the leeks, asparagus and onions. Butter a medium sauce pan at medium heat. Sauté the onions and garlic quickly. Add in the pine nuts and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add in the leeks and asparagus. Cook for 5 minutes till the asparagus turns soft but still crispy.

Plate the sauteed vegetables along side with the grilled calamari. Drizzle a little olive oil and parsley over the calamari. Squeeze in some lemon juice to serve. 

April showers bring me a good appetite! 


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