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Barbecue Secrets

Recipe of the week: Grill-Seared Calamari with Tomato-Basil Salsa

Aug 20, 2010

Seared Calamari with Fresh Tomato Basil Salsa

 Makes 4 servings

 The secret to great grilled squid is to use the freshest and smallest you can find, and to cook it over high heat for no more than a minute per side. Any longer and it turns rubbery. In this recipe, the tomato salsa provides a cool, tangy, herbal complement to the hot, garlicky calamari. You also can cook this dish on a plank to give it some extra smoky flavor, but you won’t get the nice charring that happens when you grill it over direct heat.

1 lb | 500 g cleaned squid, equal parts bodies and tentacles

1 Tbsp | 15 mL kosher salt

1/2 cup | 125 mL extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp | 2 mL red pepper flakes

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 cups | 500 mL small, ripe cherry or grape tomatoes

1 Tbsp | 15 mL fresh basil

1 Tbsp | 15 mL rice vinegar or white wine vinegar

salt and freshly ground pepper

Coat the squid in the salt, then rinse it thoroughly with cold water. Pat it dry with paper towels. Slit the bodies and score the inside surfaces with diagonal cuts. Cut each squid into large, bite-sized pieces.  Place them in a bowl with 1/4 cup | 50mL of the olive oil, the red pepper flakes, and the garlic. Toss them to coat them and marinate them in the refrigerator for about an hour.

            Preheat your grill on high. While the grill is heating, coarsely chop the tomatoes (halves or quarters are fine), slice the basil leaves into fine shreds, and toss them together in a bowl with the vinegar and the remainder of the olive oil. Distribute the salsa between four plates.

When the grill is hot, open it up and gently place the calamari on the cooking grate, taking care not to let the pieces slip through the cracks (you may even want to use a grill-topper with small holes designed for this kind of task). Don’t walk away! Stand at the open grill and tend the squid with a set of good tongs, turning the pieces often so they are cooked quickly and evenly, no more than a minute per side. Remove the squid from the grill and transfer it to the plates.

Sprinkle each serving with just a pinch of kosher salt and a light grinding of pepper. Drizzle the calamari with a little more olive oil and serve it immediately with a crisp, fruity white wine.