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.
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