David’s Condiments has a great variety of meat rubs.
I thought I would see if I could re-purpose the seafood rub for something a little more interesting than a simple seasoned fish filet. Enter this salt and pepper calamari with a creamy aioli dipping sauce flavoured with David’s Seafood Rub. Brilliant! The calamari was tender on the inside and crisp on the outside, and the salt and pepper lent a simple flavour profile against which the aioli could really shine. Despite involving emulsification and scalding oil, this is a fairly simple dish to pull together, and it is a recipe that will just as easily impress guests at a dinner party as it can function as a snack for your upcoming Netflix binge.
Note: this recipe requires the use of a deep fry/candy thermometer.
For the calamari
2 squid tubes
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Vegetable oil – approximately four cups, or approximately 1” deep in your deep frying pot of choice (a larger, wider pot will be easier to work with as you will be able to fit more pieces of calamari in without them sticking together, which also makes for safer and easier removal)
For the aioli
2 egg yolks
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon David’s Seafood Rub
Make the aioli in advance – at least an hour ahead of time, or as much as a day ahead. This will allow the flavours of the seafood rub to completely incorporate into the creamy dip.
Drop the egg yolks into your food processor and process until they are lemon yellow and creamy looking. Add in the garlic and mustard and process until incorporated. Now, while continuously running the food processor, VERY slowly drizzle the olive oil into the egg mixture. The first third of the olive oil or so should be added almost drop-by-drop, and you will see the aioli begin to thicken and lighten in colour. When the mixture is thick enough that it begins to make a slapping sound against the walls of the food processor and it is quite clearly the consistency of mayonnaise, add in the lemon juice. Process until this is incorporated. Remove the mixture from the food processor and place in a container. Stir in the seafood rub and refrigerate until ready for use.
Pour the oil into your deep fry pot and begin to warm over medium heat. If you have a clip-on thermometer, affix it to the edge of the pot now.
In the meantime, rinse the squid tubes and remove the hard cartilage from the centre of the tube, if present. Slice the tubes width-wise into rings approximately 1/4” wide. Use a few paper towels to pat the squid dry.
Prepare one bowl with the 2 eggs, and a second bowl with the flour, salt and pepper mixed together. Drop the squid into the egg and then transfer to the flour, tossing the rings so that they are thoroughly coated.
Place a layer of paper towel over a plate to put the calamari on once it has been fried.
Once the oil has heated to the deep fry range, or approximately 375F, place a few of the squid rings into the hot oil. It is important to fry the calamari in batches rather than all at once – they should not be touching each other as they fry. Be careful that you don’t splash the oil as you add the squid. Allow the rings to fry for approximately 30-45 seconds on one side, and then use a fork or slotted spoon to flip them and fry for the same duration on the second side. Use the fork or slotted spoon to remove the squid from the pot and place them on the paper towel-covered plate. Bring the oil back up to at least 350 and fry the next batch, repeating the process until all the calamari is cooked.
Serve immediately with aioli for dipping.
Jess hosts the blog The Purple House Cafe. It’s all about taste and good intentions, and the belief that “healthy, wholesome food” is made with love. http://www.purplehousecafe.com