Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Calamari Marinara – Would You Like That In 45 Seconds or 45 Minutes?

Calamari is affordable, delicious, and sustainable, yet many cooks shy away from it, since it has a reputation for being tricky to work with. I should’ve said “unfair reputation,” because while it’s true calamari can end up with a rubbery texture if overcooked, there’s a very simple way to avoid this… by really overcooking it.

When it comes to calamari, it needs to be cooked in either 45 seconds, or 45 minutes, and nothing in between. If you sear it in a pan, or poach it in a sauce for a very brief time, you should get something nice and tender. However, after just a few extra minutes, the squid gets chewy.

Unfortunately, this is how most calamari is served, since it is easy to overcook, even for a professional. But, if we gently simmer for about 45-minutes total, something amazing happens. The calamari loses that rubbery texture, and becomes tender once again.

I also think it takes on more a meaty flavor, which I love, especially when using this to sauce pasta. So, if you’ve wanted to try cooking calamari, but were afraid of over-cooking it, I really hope you give this easy sauce a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1  yellow onion, sliced thin
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 anchovy fillet
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 Serrano chili pepper sliced thin
1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more if needed
1/2 cup drinkable white wine
1 cup clam juice
6 cups crushed or puréed Italian plum tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 pounds frozen calamari tubes and tentacles, thawed, sliced into half-inch pieces
1/4 cup freshly chopped Italian parsley
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, optional
1 pound dry pasta


Unknown said...

We don't have clam juice where i live. Is there an alternative?

Kritz said...

Hey Chef John,

I cooked something similar recently: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2016/03/braised-squid-tomato-harissa-olives-recipe.html

(I guess I shoukd ask the owner of the recipe itself but ...)

The only complaint we had with the dish was that it was 'tomatoey' enough. Could it be the quality of our canned tomatoes? Under seasoned? Lack of umami?

Appreciate any input before I try your recipe!

Unknown said...

I'm definitely going to try this! One thing, though - you forgot to add the Italian MSG to the ingredient list!

Unknown said...

What kind of white wine would be appropriate? I'm super picky about wine, and prefer very sweet whites, like moscato d'asti, which...I don't really think would work here.

Bohdan Tymo said...

Greetings chef John! I'm looking forward to try this recipe, but have no chance to find a clam juice where I live in, so what would You recommend as possible substitute for it (if it's possible at all). Thanks!

Mia said...

Would the same recipe work with squid, octopus or cuttlefish, or should I stick to calamari?

Unknown said...

I'm wondering if cooking the calamari longer at first helps to keep it tender when reheating it.

Pebbles Micawber said...

FYI, you forgot to list the "Italian MSG" in your recipe. Can't wait to make this on Friday!

mattjeast said...

Have you considered serving this cold like a gazpacho before? Or would that be horrendous? I could see adding some cucumber and avocado, but I don't know if that'd transfer well.

Unknown said...

Hate to be "that" guy, but is there anything I could use instead of Clam juice? Great recipe, nevertheless!

timidseduction said...

Hey chef could we use red wine? I happen to have some leftover.

Unknown said...

Superb. I would suggest small bunch of leaf celery or cilantro

lumporr said...

Hi Chef John, long time fan!

I really wanna make this recipe, especially to try and make a stew - but I'm worried that my friends (who all either dislike or are allergic to most seafood) won't have any, and that I'll have to throw away some or most of it. Is this a problem that can be avoided without simply getting better friends? How long will something like this keep, and how should I keep it? I suppose this could also be a more general question, since I can't always get friends over to eat my food. I'm a very, very amateur chef and something that prevents me from trying out new recipes is not knowing how/for how long they stay good and being afraid to throw things away. Could you help me out at all?



Ed the house chef said...

As someone that's lived in Europe for 6 years (and getting ready to head back stateside) I must throw the flag on your decision to mix Parmesan-Reggiano with seafood...the shame :) Yes, we lived in Italy and after having been educated on when is okay and when is not, and by educated I essentially mean taken to the town square and flogged repeatedly, I can't and won't mix them again.

Chanio said...

Thank you! Always good recipes.
Btw, you missed the anchovi at the ingredients.

The sauce looks like a putanesca.

You are right about the odd timing.
I used to eat calamari at an unknowned bar in a quarter of Barcelona, Spain that only served excellent grilled sea food.
And saw that their secret was just to let the calamari less than a minute on the hot grill. Until it got slightly brown on each side.
The people there, used to enjoy sitting at that bar, every Sunday morning to have some grilled sea food sandwiches with a pint of beer.

Unknown said...

Thank you Chef John for the secret of calamari !

Unknown said...

Hei Chef,
I am a BIG fan of yours !! Love the way you make it look simple, and your videos helps boosts confidence into making amateurs like me go to the kitchen and make something cool and Amazing without breaking a sweat! I have tried so many of your recipes and most of them come out great! For the few ones that do not... well I think I sometime mess up when I convert Cups to Grams. There are so many websites with different measurements and its kinda hard to rely on them. Is it possible to ask of you to put the equivalent Cups into Grams on your Blogg? It would be a Big help for us living in Europe.
(p.s. This Calamari looks awesome! Gonna try it next weekend)

Unknown said...

Looks great Chef Johm.

However, I was not sure how to contact you except through comments that you might want to check out this video, https://youtu.be/fcgRy7ct48Y. They just took your sausage pasta fazool recipe and sped it up. It looks like they did that on another video too and mentioned it was with foodwishes. They say to go to their blog for more detail. I just thought I'd let you know since YouTube only let's copyright owners report copyright infringement and I want you to get the money you deserve.

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Larry D said...

Question: Shrimp is also easily over cooked. If it was added to the sauce and simmered will it become tender?

PhillyBear said...

Oh, man this looks great! My grandmom used to make a similar dish, but she'd stuff the calamari bodies. We had that every Christmas Eve. I'm definitely going to make your recipe. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Will the Calamari marinara recipe be on Allrecipe.com web site ???

Unknown said...

I'm still curious if cooking the calamari longer changes the quality when reheated. Thanks, love your site!

Unknown said...

I didnt have any anchovies so i used worcestershire sauce (2 table spoons added to the tomatoes) and it was really delicious :) Thanks chef

Whiteleather said...

Lots of unanswered questions above. I hope these answers from my experience help:

Can't find clam juice? Use the liquid from your thawed squid or chicken broth.

Can you use other fish? Yes, you can use cuttle fish, octopus, or other fish. Heck, do a shrimp/scallops/mussels/clam medley and call it cioppino.

Italian MSG? Folks, that is what he is calling the anchovy in the sauce. Italian MSG is not a separate ingredient.

Will shrimp become tender when used like this? No. Its get hard if over cooked...and just gets harder as time goes on. Best bet is to puree the finished sauce if you used shrimp.

Unknown said...

Loved it. Thank you.

RedHotChiliMan said...

Hi John, long time fan with two quick questions.

- We don't have clam juice where I'm from, is it okay to use regular water instead? I have no idea what kind of flavor it adds.

- I have bought a mix of mussels and calamari, would it be okay to throw in the mussels at the same point in time? or should I wait to another time?

Thanks in advance,