Calamari is a favorite in our family. Most often, when I mention having calamari, the girls get excited because they think of deep fried breaded calamari, which is their most favored. I grew up eating wok fried calamari and probably never had the deep fried version until I became an adult. Truth be told, I love the deep fried version just as much. I have cleaned more than my fair share of squid over the years, but these days you can buy them frozen, cleaned and even sliced. When given the choice, I prefer to buy fresh squid and clean it myself. As unpleasant as it may be, I think the fresh, caught in the wild squid is best.
This is a simple recipe meant to serve as one dish of an entire meal containing several small dishes. I came across it as part of an Izakaya menu.
1 pound small squid (calamari)
Several tender celery stalks, including the leaves equalling 2 cups sliced (use the heart of the celery bunch)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic butter
salt and pepper
If you are using uncleaned squid, pull out the tentacles and separate them from the body. This will pull out the innards of the squid. Rinse out the body and peel off the outer skin. The skin is like a soft film. Once you tear it, it's pretty easy to peel it off. For the tentacles, it's easies to use a pair of kitchen shears and cut everything off from the eyes down. This will take off the beak and all of the innards that were pulled out. Discard all of this.
Rinse the bodies and tentacles under cold water. Pat dry.
Slice the bodies into bit sized rings, about 1/2" to 1" wide. If needed, cut the tentacles in half into bite sized pieces.
Slice on the bias the celery stalks and leaves into 1/4" to 1/2" thick pieces. Separate the stalks from the leaves.
In a large wok or frying pan, heat the oil over high heat for about 1 minute. Add the squid and salt and pepper and saute for 1 minute.
Add the celery stalks and when they are just barely softened, add the leaves.
Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Serve the calamari with lemon wedges and top with the garlic butter.
Melt the butter with a kitchen torch.
For the Garlic Butter:
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp
Finely chop the garlic. Sprinkle the salt over top and smear the garlic into a paste with the side of a knife on the cutting board.
Mix the garlic into the softened butter.
Cover and refrigerate until firm.
Maybe not one of the girls' favorite, but I loved the charred taste the torching of the butter imparted and the celery paired well with the calamari.