Calamari is one of those things that sounds really intimidating to the home cook. Especially if they are a little seafood-scared. But that little bit of squid-squick-factor may be one of the things that makes this wild caught seafood option stay relatively affordable: where I live, a delightfully land-locked state, already cleaned calamari is often cheaper than the shell-on shrimp you can get in the freezer. Add that perk to the fact that it can be pan fried in about 5 minutes, it’s one of my favorite sea-originated proteins.
I like to keep the actual calamari really simple, especially since I like to cook it so lightly. This lemon-cilantro version is probably my favorite. If I’m going to serve it as an appetizer, I like to keep it breading-free and fresh, paired with a more zingy dipping sauce which people can load up as high as they want (or not). This roasted pepper sauce is, again, super fast because I have no problems using ready roasted red peppers. Try saying that one 3 times, fast. You can warm the sauce, but I don’t bother. The still-warm, just out of the pan, calamari almost taste better against the raw sauce because of the temperature contrast.
- 1lb of cleaned calamari tubes, sliced into inch long pieces
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 2 tbl coconut oil or avocado oil
- ¼ cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
- In a bowl, toss the calamari, lemon juice and coconut oil. Set aside to marinate.
- Make the red pepper sauce: drain the roasted red peppers of any excess liquid by placing in a sieve and pressing down on them gently with the back of a spoon. Add them to a blender along with the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. Liquefy until smooth.
- Heat a large skillet over medium until hot. Tip the calamari, oil and lemon juice into the pan; it should sizzle. Cook, stirring frequently, until opaque and until the edges are just beginning to take on a little color, about 4 - 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle the calamari with the chopped cilantro and serve while hot alongside the roasted red pepper sauce.
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