Calamari rings / Happy New Year!

calamariPlanning a New Year party celebration? Thinking of making calamari rings as a funky starter? Well… think again…

Calamari rings / Happy New Year!


In the cartoon kitchen we’re open to sharing both the successes and the… anyway, this dish proved to be a bit of a challenge.

For the calamari you will need: 350–400g of squid (we used a mix of baby squid and bigger ones), 250ml groundnut or sunflower oil, 2tbsp cornflour, 4tbsp semolina, 1tsp salt and 1tsp paprika.

We used two types of dip, which you can prepare beforehand: mayonnaise (a clove of garlic finely chopped then mushed with a pestle, mixed with 70g mayonnaise and sprinkled with chopped coriander); and chilli dipping sauce (2 red Thai chillies deseeded and finely chopped, a garlic clove finely chopped, 60ml rice vinegar, 50g caster sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10min until reduced to a thin syrup, then add 1tsp fish sauce and let it cool. Just when you are ready to serve add ¼ red onion finely chopped and 40g cucumber finely chopped).

Now the squid: in a bowl mix the cornflour, semolina, salt and paprika. At the same time warm the oil in a small pan for deep frying: the oil is ready when it sizzles and a small cube of bread fries very quickly. Cut the squid to your liking: in 1cm rings or – if your squid are really big – criss-cross the outside then cut in 3cm squares. Deep-fry in batches (they will need just a couple of minutes each), drain on kitchen paper, season and be ready to serve with the dips.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, we seriously underestimated the logistics of deep-frying and keeping the food warm while cooking in batches. The result was acceptable but not a finger-licking phenomenon. Trota started a blamestorm and Salmon – not known for his patience at the best of times – reached for the can opener. As the mound of washing-up grew, Fidget became nervous…

The moral of the story: for the Rowes, deep frying is best left to the professionals. But we’ll keep dreaming of those perfectly crisp calamari  – sampled while sipping a chilled glass by the sea…and hopefully it’ll be a dream come true in 2015.

Wishing you a very happy New Year from the cartoon kitchen!