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Take your taste buds on a trip to Basque country by way of Gerald Hirigoyen’s Calamari "a la plancha." The chef-owner of Piperade has played with squid since the restaurant’s opening 11 years ago, but his latest umami-rich incarnation, with briny olives and capers, is the most tempting and easy to replicate at home. Dusted with the spicy, sweet, fragrant powder of red Espelette peppers (available at Village Market in the Ferry Building or Market Hall Foods in Oakland), the calamari is rendered in no time. Call it a tasty flash in the pan.
Calamari "a la Plancha"
3 tablespoons fresh fennel, minced
3 tablespoons pitted kalamata olives, minced
1 tablespoon capers, minced
1/2 lemon, zested
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound calamari, whole tubes and tentacles, with skin intact, patted dry
1/2 tablespoon cooking oil
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon vegetable stock
4 mint leaves, chopped
1. In a bowl, combine the fennel, olives, capers, lemon zest, and olive oil. Let marinate for 30 minutes. Set aside.
2. Season the calamari with salt.
3. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat until very hot. Add the cooking oil, and let heat until the oil ripples. Remove from the flame.
4. Be careful adding the calamari as it may cause the oil to splash. Return the pan to the flame, and cook on high until the calamari begins to brown and the moisture has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Add butter, garlic, olive mixture, lemon juice, and stock to the pan. Continue to cook until liquid reduces to sauce-like texture.
6. Present the calamari on a plate or in a bowl, garnishing with chopped mint and Piment d’Espelette.
This artcile was published in 7x7's May issue. Click here to subscribe.