Black-and-White Calamari Fritters
Calamares a la Romana Rebozadas con su Tinto
Of the delicious multitude of seafood fritters I tasted in Spain, these stand out as the most dramatic and memorable - the sort of dish that instantly provokes gasps of excitement. For one, the beer batter is so light that tempura seems leaden in comparison. But the real surprise here is the colors: A batter hued jet-black by squid ink, with snow-white calamares hiding inside.
This is one of many scandalously delicious creations of Quim Marquéz, a Barcelona chef who can work miracles with just one or two simple flavors at his restaurant El Suquet de l'Almirall. Quim extracts ink from the squid himself, but the plastic packets of squid ink imported from Spain are a fine, labor-saving option. Quim recommends serving the fritters with Roasted Garlic or Colorful Saffron Allioli ; they are just as good with lemon wedges or on their own. If you don't have squid ink, the fritter will still be delicious without it.
• 1/2 pound cleaned squid, patted thoroughly dry
• Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 large egg, beaten
• 3/4 cup cold lager-style beer
• 3 to 4 packets (each 4 grams/.14 ounce) squid ink (about 1 teaspoon total; see Note)
• Olive oil, for frying
• Allioli (recipe follows), or lemon wedges, for serving
1. Cut the squid bodies into 1/3-inch-wide rings. Rub all the squid with a little salt and let stand while you prepare the batter. Set a small rack over a baking sheet and line it with a double thickness of paper towels.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder together into a large bowl. Gradually whisk in the egg and beer, whisking until the batter is completely smooth. Whisk in 1/2 teaspoon salt and enough squid ink to color the batter a purplish dark gray.
3. Pour olive oil to a depth of 1 1/2 inches in a large, deep skillet and heat it over medium-high heat to 360°F; when hot, batter placed in the oil will sizzle on contact. Add a third of the squid rings to the batter and stir until completely coated. Using a fork, remove the squid rings from the batter, shaking off the excess. Place the battered squid in the hot oil and fry until the batter is puffed up and the squid is just cooked through, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side. As you cook, lower the heat as needed so that the squid has a chance to cook through without the batter burning. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried squid to the paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining squid rings. Serve immediately with allioli or lemon wedges. Serves 6 as a tapa, 4 as a light first course
Note: As the intensity of the ink can vary, use as many packets as you need to get a very dark batter. If the ink inside the packets seems a little congealed, warm the packets in a pot of hot water.
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup peanut or canola oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 large egg yolks
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
Stir together both oils in a measuring cup with a spout. Place the garlic, egg yolks and lemon juice in a blender and pulse until a coarse paste forms. With the motor running, add the oil in a slow, thin, steady stream. The mixture will be the consistency of a thick mayonnaise. Scrape the allioli into a bowl and season with salt to taste, and more lemon juice if desired. Let stand for at least 1 hour before serving, or cover and refrigerate if keeping longer. If the allioli seems too thick, thin it out with a little water before using.
Makes just over 1 cup.
Source: Recipes © 2005 from The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen. Featuring over 300 unique recipes, The New Spanish Table protrays the food and culture of Spain at its most vibrant. The perfect pairing for delicious Spanish wines! (Workman Publishing Co. Inc.)