Salad of Southern Calamari

Calamari are often more tender than other squid, and shaving them finely makes them even more so. This dish, which was often on the menu when Jonathan Barthelmess was at Coast Restaurant at Darling Harbour, is a delicious way to eat calamari or squid.  As the calamari is only very briefly warmed in the oil, it’s essential that you buy sashimi-grade, the freshest possible.

Ingredients (serves six)

  • 1 kg vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 cm dice, juices reserved
  • juice of 1 lemon, strained
  • 2 small green chillies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 large handful mint leaves, very finely sliced salt flakes and freshly ground
  • white pepper, to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups (500 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 eggplants (aubergines), peeled and diced
  • 1.5 kg sashimi-grade southern calamari, cleaned (see page 154), tentacles and flaps discarded

Method
Place the tomatoes with their juices, lemon juice, chilli, half the mint, salt, pepper, half the garlic and two tablespoons of the oil in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for one hour at room temperature.

Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over medium heat and add one cup (250 ml) of the oil. When hot, add the eggplant, salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes, until soft but not coloured. Stir the remaining garlic through the eggplant, then remove the eggplant from the oil and place on paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and leave to cool.

Cut the calamari tube in half lengthways and, using a sharp knife, shave it as finely as possible. Heat half the remaining oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Add half the calamari and cook for about 15 seconds, until it just turns white; it should be just warmed through, not coloured. Remove it from the pan, place on paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining oil and calamari.

Divide the eggplant among plates and top with the calamari. Drizzle with the tomato mixture, sprinkle with pepper and remaining mint and serve at room temperature.

ALTERNATIVE SPECIES:

cuttlefish; loligo squid

Recipe from the book Sydney Seafood School Cookbook by Roberta Muir & photography by Alan Benson, published by Lantern rrp$49.99. Purchase the Sydney Seafood School Cookbook from Booktopia for $39.95

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