As you can probably tell, I’ve been on a huge seafood kick as of late. Maybe I should get my cholesterol checked but it all tastes so good so I’ll continue to take my chances. In one of my recent posts, I talked about how easy it is to overcook squid. It really is amazing how little heat is required to get calamari to the right consistency and how quickly they turn for the worse. But when cooked perfectly (I actually prefer the non-frying techniques) the delicate flavor and texture of this odd looking sea creature rivals pretty much anything.
The flavor really is delicate however. This is probably why most of the time you see fried calamari on menus. What doesn’t taste great fried! But just like anything, it isn’t just about the flavor of the ingredient on its own; it is about what it is paired with. Like most ingredients from the sea, the addition of salty ingredients brings out the fresh from the sea flavor. But solely salty dishes aren’t all that enjoyable. However, salty components in a balanced bite make for perfection (ever have salted caramel ice cream?).
One of my favorite ways to cook calamari along with most seafood, is in a strong flavor base. For this dish, I was able to develop a deep flavor from red wine, canned diced tomatoes, and clam juice. After simmering for a few minutes, the addition of spinach, gave the base a fresh boost of flavor. Next, the addition of little neck clams further developed that salty flavor of the sea. Finally, adding the sliced calamari and cooking for just a minute, this hearty sauce was complete and awfully delicious. The calamari was perfectly cooked and with just enough pasta to make this a meal, we were all satisfied.