Pan Fried Calamari with Thai Chiles

17 Feb

Our refrigerator was on the fritz a couple of days back.  I went to pour myself a glass of milk on Valentine’s morning and it was curdled.  Ew.  And our landlord was out of town.  So, basically anything in the fridge was of little or no use.  Luckily, there wasn’t a whole hell of a lot in the fridge to begin with, since I’ve been way too busy to do much shopping.  And the freezer was still okay, which means I had to think about what was in the freezer and the pantry to comprise a colorable Valentine’s Day dinner.

This delectable finger food was a really delicious explosion of flavors and textures.  I had originally planned to use scallions in place of the chiles, but Zak requested I mince up a few of the hot peppers and it turned out to be a really excellent substitution.  Beware – these chiles are very hot, so be careful when handling and reduce the amount or remove all of the seeds if you aren’t a huge fan of spice.  Alternatively, you can substitute a milder chile such as a jalapeño or poblano.  We both really enjoyed this, however, and I thought the flavor worked well with the brightness of the lemon juice and earthiness of the garlic.  The calmari had a really nice crunchy bite to it, and alongside some rice, this made for a light and delicious dinner for two.

Pan Fried Calamari with Thai Chiles

1/4 cup canola oil

1 lb. squid, bodies and tentacles, defrosted if frozen, bodies cut into 1/2″ to 3/4″ rings

3 tbs. all-purpose flour

3 tbs. cornstarch

4 cloves garlic, grated

1 lemon, zested and juiced

2-3 Thai chiles, very finely minced

In a cast iron pan, heat canola oil over high heat until oil is shimmering, about 5-6 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large brown paper or ziplock bag, add all flour, corn starch, salt, and pepper.  Shake until calamari is well coated.  Shake off extra flour and add calamari to pan, working in batches if necessary, and cook 2-3 minutes, tossing frequently.  Add the chiles the last thirty seconds or so, and cook  until calamari is cooked through but tender.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.

While the calamari is draining, toss together garlic and  lemon zest.  Toss with calamari and serve with lemon juice.

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