dimanche 12 juillet 2009

Spicy Calamari Salad

Calamari or kalamari (squid) was one of my favourite dishes from the Greek restaurants on the Danforth in Toronto. Calamari is cut into rings, lightly battered and quickly deep fried then served with tzatziki and lemon wedges. Done properly these are crispy and light - not greasy or rubbery. I rarely deep fry anything so it is a treat to find good fried calamari to eat when I go out.

When I get fresh calamari, I like to make this Spicy Calamari Salad instead. Cleaning the squid is not for the squeamish. It is not difficult to do but it is messy. First the head is separated from the body, the skin layer removed, the insides cleaned out and the spine removed. For this recipe, the squid tubes are cut open which makes the cleaning process a little easier. The tricks to avoid tough calamari are to score the inside of the tubes to break up the membranes and to stir fry quickly in small batches over high heat. I don't mind eating the tentacle part. To prepare it remove the tentacles from the beak just above the eyes and cut off the extra long tentacle.

The star anise adds a nice hint of licorice flavour that works well with the chilli sauce. If you are in México, ask for star anise as "anis estrella" at the pharmacy.

Spicy Calamari Salad
Makes 4-6 servings

500 g (1 lb) medium calamari, cleaned
10 mL (2 tsp) freshly grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2.5 mL (½ tsp) cayenne pepper
15 mL (1 Tbsp) chopped coriander leaves
2.5 mL (½ tsp) five spice powder
2 star anise, crushed
60 mL (¼ cup) mild sweet chilli sauce
30 mL (2 Tbsp) olive oil
500 mL (2 cups) mesclun mix (mixed baby salad leaves)

60 mL (1/4 cup) olive oil
15 mL (1 Tbsp) red wine vinegar
10 mL (2 tsp) sugar
10 mL (2 tsp) lime juice

Cut calamari tubes open, score shallow diagonal slashes in criss-cross pattern on the inside surface; cut into 2 cm x 6 cm (3/4” x 2-1/2”) pieces. Combine ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, coriander, five spice powder, anise and sauce in bowl; add calamari and mix well. Cover and refrigerate 3 hours or overnight.

Heat oil in wok or pan, add calamari in batches and stir-fry over high heat about 1 minute or until calamari is opaque and tender.

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well to mix.
Serve warm calamari over salad leaves drizzled with dressing.

dimanche 5 juillet 2009


The past few days have been so hot here that it makes thinking about cooking and eating difficult. It got me thinking about Vichyssoise. I love the sound of the name. Somehow the name Leek and Potato Soup does not have the same cachet. It is a lovely thick creamy cold soup that seemed perfect for cooling off.

One of my old favourite restaurants near my apartment in Paris (sadly is has been taken over by new management and no longer serves the same food) had it on the menu but for a twist added mussels. I quite liked that idea and tried it with the Vichyssoise I made this weekend.

Vichyssoise can also be served hot.

With mussels

... and without

Serves 4

30 g (2 Tbsp) butter
3 large leeks, white parts only, finely chopped
150 g (5 oz) potatoes, diced
1 L (4 cups) chicken stock
Salt & pepper to taste
125 mL (1/2 cup) crème fraîche or sour cream
60 mL (1/4 cup) 35% cream, whipped
15 mL (1 Tbsp) chives, chopped

Melt butter in a large pot; add the leeks, cover with baking paper and cook without colouring, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or just until tender. Add potatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and continue cooking for 15 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the soup into a blender or food processor and purée. Pour into a large bowl and mix in the crème fraîche or sour cream. Let cool and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Pour into chilled bowls and serve cold. Garnish the soup with a dollop of whipped cream and the chopped chives.