Friday, May 7, 2010

Summer Joy

When we were growing up in New York, calamari was as common and beloved a food as any. My jaw would drop in saddened amazement when Midwesterners, or for that matter anybody who didn't live on the East coast, would call them rubber bands. We knew that if their texture was like rubber bands they weren't cooked properly. One of my favorite dishes is spaghetti with fried calamari. This is a harbinger of summer even more than shoots poking out of the ground. It means a world of grilled seafood is on the horizon. Pasta is the perfect food to accompany calamari as in this recipe.

Linguine with Calamari

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
6 to 8 cups olive oil for frying
1 pound cleaned squid bodies, cut into rings
1 cup all-purpose flour for dredging
Salt to taste
1/2 cup milk
3/4 pound linguine
1. In a small skillet, heat the olive oil, garlic, half the parsley, and red chile, over low heat. Turn off the heat before it starts sizzling.
2. In a deep fryer or an eight-inch diameter saucepan fitted with a wire fry basket preheat the oil to 360 degrees F. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees F or “warm.”
3. Meanwhile, dredge the squid in the flour and salt and shake off the excess flour in a strainer. Cook the squid in batches, by the handful, dipping them first in the milk rather quickly. Make sure you don’t crowd the fryer. Cook the squid until light golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and place on a paper towel-lined platter and keep warm in the oven while you cook the pasta.
4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a vigorous boil over high heat, salt abundantly, and add the pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente and drain well without rinsing. Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl or platter. Sprinkle the fried squid on top, then sprinkle the remaining parsley on top, and serve.
Makes 4 servings