Fresh calamari is healthy, tasty and easy to buy. This simple grilled calamari recipe is possibly the easiest and quickest meal you can put on the table.
There are so many ways to cook fresh calamari. I love to eat deep fried calamari or pan fried calamari when I go out and I often do. But who wants to cook that at home and clean up all the mess after frying? For easy cooking at home, this simple grilled calamari recipe leaves no smell and has an easy clean-up.
A healthy calamari recipe like this is just perfect as a standalone appetizer, a light main meal or as the basis for a grilled calamari salad. Or, why not follow the Spanish culture and serve grilled calamari as part of a tapas menu?
Key to cooking calamari is sourcing a good fishmonger you have confidence in. For us, that means going to our local market. And if overseas, in a place we don’t know, we still visit the market to check out the vendors. More on shopping for seafood below.
You can also use squid for this recipe. Are calamari and squid the same thing? No, they are not.
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Are Calamari and Squid the same?
Fresh calamari and squid are not the same thing. Squid is the cheaper ingredient. Calamari costs more and in my opinion, is more tender and a better-quality ingredient. If you are looking to impress someone, fresh calamari is the way to go. Otherwise, squid is a more than acceptable alternative.
Squid is generally Nototodarus gouldi, Calamari come from the genus Sepioteuthis. Calamari has ink, or “sepia”, often used to color dishes, think squid ink pasta or risotto. Squid has smaller, arrow shaped fins. The fins of calamari are longer.
When buying fresh calamari, you often see it sold separately as calamari tubes, calamari rings, calamari tentacles or, indeed, you can buy the whole calamari.
I prefer not to buy fresh calamari as pre-sliced calamari rings, calamari tubes or calamari tentacles. The bottom line is pre-cut calamari does dry out. If I’m paying good money for seafood I want to know I am getting the freshest possible product.
Therefore my preference, when possible, is to go to a fishmonger where they prepare the calamari to your exact requirements from the whole calamari.
Finding a Good Fishmonger is Key
A fishmonger will prepare any whole, seafood in front of you, including fresh calamari.
Fresh calamari tubes scored with a diamond shape pattern? No problem. Unscored calamari tubes for stuffing? Check. Calamari tubes sliced into rings? You get the drift.
For our recipe today, we use fresh calamari tubes sliced into rings, as well as the calamari tentacles. I think the tentacles are the best part!
With sharp knives and expertise this only takes a minute to prepare. And, you go home with the freshest product to use on your healthy calamari recipe.
Another important reason to use a fishmonger is you get to know them. It’s a great way to educate yourself! You can find out what seafood is in season, best methods to prepare and cook your seafood, or even what is farmed and what is wild seafood. There is no downside and you can guarantee your fishmonger will look out for you.
These photographs are from the Valencia Merdaco Centrale. The old market building is spectacular and is the most impressive food market I have visited both for ambience and quality of product. The vendors at the market talk to their customers and vice-versa. It was obvious some customers had shopped there for years. And with seafood that looks this good, it sings out to you to purchase it.
Being in a foreign country, Our AirBnB host recommended the fishmonger, the butcher, the delicatessen and some fruit and vegetable vendors. If you are traveling but still want to eat well this is a good approach to help find great vendors.
Simple Grilled Calamari
Simple grilled calamari is best made with fresh calamari rather than frozen. It’s an easy calamari recipe and, also, forms the basis for a great, grilled seafood salad.
Cooking calamari is easy and learning how to grill calamari will pay you back in spades. The key to cooking fresh calamari is not to cook it for too long and to cook it at a high temperature. You can cook grilled calamari under your grill (or broiler) in your kitchen or on the plate of your outdoor barbecue. In summer, this is a great option. But, just make sure your broiler/grill/BBQ is hot.
Three minutes for this simple grilled calamari should be plenty of time. But, if your calamari rings are thick you might need to cook them for 4 to 5 minutes. If you are not sure under-cook them, then do a taste test. A quick test will confirm whether they need a little longer.
I like to marinate the prepared calamari rings and tentacles in a simple marinade of olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and lemon juice. Serve immediately with a further squeeze of lemon juice and chopped parsley.
Simple but delicious.