Fried calamari goes to Vietnam, where seafood (and meats) are often paired with lots and lots of fresh herbs. Here, the intense, fresh flavor of mint, basil, dill, parsley, and cilantro make a clean-tasting counterpoint to the rich, lightly crunchy calamari. Prep and Cook Time: 1 1/2 hours. Notes: Fish sauce and rice flour can be found in the Asian food aisle of most supermarkets. Calamari most often comes frozen, cleaned, and separated into tubes (mantles) and tentacles. If you find it fresh, ask your fishmonger to clean it (it's tedious to do yourself).
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from 6 to 8 large limes)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce (also called nuoc mam or nam pla; see Notes)
1 each red and green jalapeño chiles, seeded and minced
2 cups each loosely packed fresh mint, basil, dill, flat-leaf parsley, and cilantro leaves
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup sliced celery (1/4 in. thick)
1 cup whole salted cashews
4 cups vegetable oil
1 pound calamari, cleaned (see Notes)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rice flour (see Notes)
About 1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
How to Make It
In a small bowl, combine lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, and chiles. Set dressing aside.
In a large serving bowl, combine mint, basil, dill, parsley, cilantro, onion, celery, and cashews. Set aside.
In a 4-qt. pot about 10 in. in diameter, heat vegetable oil until it registers 360° on a candy thermometer.
While oil is heating, slice calamari tubes in half lengthwise with a sharp knife. Lay each half flat, inside up, and gently score across the half 3 or 4 times with the point of a knife. Turn the half 90° and score 3 or 4 times across the first score marks to make a grid pattern (think tic-tac-toe). Halve and score the remaining tubes the same way. Put in a small bowl with tentacles. Set aside.
In another small bowl, combine all-purpose flour, rice flour, 1 tsp. salt, and the cayenne. Drop the calamari pieces into the flour mixture, turning to coat well.
Working in 3 batches, fry squid 4 to 5 minutes per batch, or until pieces are curled and light brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fried calamari to a large plate lined with several folded paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt to taste. Allow oil temperature to return to 360° between batches.
Add the warm calamari to the herb-cashew mixture and pour half of the dressing over it. Toss gently just until coated. Serve salad immediately, with remaining dressing on the side.
Note: Nutritional analysis is per 1 1/2-cup serving.
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