I decided to cook the baby calamari with a nutty, sesame crust and serve it with a very simple salad of rocket and kiwifruit. Kiwifruit is lovely at the moment and it works really well with the peppery flavour of the rocket. Choose kiwifruit that is ripe, but still on the firmish side. To finish the salad, I made a simple vinigarette style dressing with macadamia oil and white balsamic, but if you don't have either of these, you can use olive oil and a touch of vinegar to make a straight vinigarette. Also, if you cannot buy baby calamari, just use the smallest calamari you can find. Regardless of what you choose, make sure it is super fresh and avoid those large pre-cleaned frozen squid "tubes", unless you want to feel like you are eating fried rubber bands! Ugh! It is always better to change your menu if the produce isn't up to scratch than to buy something second rate. This dish is very easy to make but it tastes and looks lovely. Enjoy!
Baby calamari in a sesame crust
with rocket and kiwifruit salad and macadamia/white balsamic dressing
You will need:
About 500g cleaned baby calamari (including tentacles) - you can cut the calamari into rings if you want to, but I prefer cutting them into pieces. I score them in a criss cross pattern with a sharp knife on the soft side of the flesh. I find that it holds the coating much more effectively and also curls nicely when cooked for presentation.
(for the coating) 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, 2 tablespoons plain flour, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon sea salt,1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 2 tespoons paprika, oil for frying.
(for the salad) A couple of handfuls of rocket leaves, 1 kiwifruit skin removed and diced, 1 small lebanese cucumber seeds removed and sliced, 1/2 small red onion sliced finely.
(for the dressing) 2 tablespoons macadamia oil, 2 tablesppons white balsamic vinegar, 2 tesapoons caster sugar, salt and pepper to taste
Method: First, thoroughly whisk together the dressing ingredients and abjust the seasoning to taste - you may want to add more white balsamic if you like the dressing to be more tangy. I like to be generous with the salt and pepper - heavier seasoning seems to work with the buttery nature of the macadamia oil. Set aside the dressing.
Next, in a plastic bag mix together the sesame seeds, flour, cayenne, salt, pepper and paprika. Set it aside.
Heat the oil for frying in a pan ( I fry the calamari in about 4cm of oil) While the oil is heating up, assemble your salad ingredients on your serving plate/s.
When the oil is hot enough to fry, put your prepared calamari in the bag of seasoning and coat all of the pieces well. Fry the calamari in small batches until golden. Drain on paper towels to remove any excess oil.
Pile your cooked calamari onto the plate, drizzle some dressing over the salad and you are done.