Calamari

Fried rings of pleasure

Whoever has visited even once a Greek island must or should have tasted calamari, a highly popular appetizer at beach restaurants often served as deep-fried rings accompanied by “skordalia” (garlic puree) and a glass of ouzo.

kalamari3Calamari is the culinary name for squid, a deep-sea animal that ranges in size from 2 inches to 60 feet in length. It has eight arms and two tentacles that forage for food.

Squid is a nutritious seafood. Its meat has no fats, the portion of saturated fat is 0.3 g, lesser than meats and most seafood, and it is a good source of proteins. Squid meat is also a source of different minerals including calcium, iron, zinc, folate, magnesium and phosphorous. In addition, squid meat provides our organism with vitamins such as riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin C.

 The word Calamari is the plural form of the Italian word for squid, Calamaro. The name derives from the Late Latin word calamarium for “ink pot”, after the inky fluid that squid secrete. Calamarium in turn derives from the Greek word “kalamos” (κάλαμος) meaning “reed,” “tube” or “pen”.

In ancient Greek mythology, “Kalamos” was the son of Maiandros, the patron deity of the Meander River in Asia Minor, who committed suicide by drowning in the river when his friend Karpos drowned also during competing in a swimming contest.

The body (mantle) of calamari can be stuffed whole, cut into flat pieces or sliced into rings. The arms, tentacles and ink are edible, in fact the only parts of the squid that are not eaten are its beak and gladius (pen).

So, the next time you’ll find yourself in a Greek restaurant, don’t hesitate to taste “kalamarakia”, squid rings and arms coated in batter and fried in oil, or other traditional recipes such as slowly simmered or stuffed calamari with vegetables like tomatoes and spinach.

MLGFB Tip:

kalamarakiaHow to make “kalamarakia tiganita” or deep fried calamari rings

Ingredients: 2 pounds of small squid, flour for dredging, olive oil for frying, lemon wedges, sea salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (optional)

Preparation:

  • Preheat a deep skillet or heavy-bottomed frying pan over low heat. (Alternatively, preheat a deep fat fryer.)
  • If working with frozen rings, defrost per package instructions. Otherwise, clean and prepare squid for frying, keeping the tentacles in one piece. Season with salt (and pepper if desired).
  • Pour 1/2 to 3/4 inch of oil into the frying pan (it should not come up to over half the depth of the pan) and turn up the heat to high. Dredge the squid in flour and let sit for a few minutes.
  • Gently shake off excess flour and, when the oil is hot, fry without crowding in the pan until crisp and golden brown on all sides.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  • Garnish with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.
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