from one generation to the next
I’ve been following “From The Bartolini Kitchen” blog for more than four years. John’s blog and now book of the same name is a record of recipes that pay homage to his Italian heritage, the food he ate as a child when his large extended family all lived together, the food his mother and aunt cooked, the food that evoked the nostalgia of childhood.
In March John posted the last recipes of that project. His timing was impeccable as his elderly aunt, the source of many of the recipes and the arbitrator of flavour passed away soon after.
I filed this recipe away immediately after the post hit my WP Reader and went looking for small fresh squid. Every visit to my fishmonger since, I’ve hoped to come home with squid, but found that all that was available was frozen tubes, no thanks, or tiny fresh arrow squid no bigger than my thumb. The week the arrow squid has finally grown just a little.
It may seem a tad esoteric, but I love the process of cleaning fresh seafood. I feel it keeps me in touch with the reality of my food source and enhances my gratitude for the beautiful fresh food I have available to me. Farmer’s Markets affect me in the same way.
Calamari is simple to clean. A gentle tug of the head will detach the innards from the body. They all come out cleanly attached to the head, then you simply cut across in front of the eyes to separate the edible tentacles ensuring there is no hard beak at the join. Discard the head and digestive tract.
The next step is to remove the backbone from the tube. The internal long thin transparent acetate-like piece runs the length of the tube, it should pull out easily. You then need to remove the skin. It’s important to remove it all as this is what turns calamari into rubber bands. I find the best way is to peel off the wings first. That will give you a broad edge to grasp so you can easily peel the skin from the remainder of the tube. Now peel the wings off the skin that came with them when you removed them from the body. All that’s left to do is rinse the tube inside and out, and rinse the wings and tentacles. The calamari is then good to go.
The delicately flavoured super fresh squid really shines in this dish. I’ve changed the original recipe just a little. Thanks John for the information, inspiration and the delicious calamari recipe.
I bought 1/2 kg for 2 people, uncleaned weight, nine small squid
Stuffed Calamari – serves 2
500g calamari, cleaned with tentacles and wings reserved
1 1/2 cups fresh sourdough breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons oil
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C
Generously oil a shallow baking dish or 2 dishes for individual serves.
Combine the breadcrumbs, parsley lemon zest pepper and chopped squid wings and tentacles.
Dampen the mix with a little olive oil.
Stuff the breadcrumb mixture into the squid tubes, not too tight though as they will shrink when they cook.
Put the stuffed squid into the baking dish(es) with little space around so the heat can circulate drizzle over the remaining oil, then place on the centre rack of the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
Serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon.